Martians Go Home (1990)
The hits just keep on coming, don’t they? If Randy Quaid has a high point as a thespian, it ain’t present in Martians Go Home, a half-assed adaptation of a Frederic Brown sci-fi novel. Quaid is a songwriter who suddenly summons oodles of Martians to Earth, all of them played by comedians of the era. They proceed to piss people off. Meta!
My Favorite Martian (1999)
Not your mama’s sitcom, this Disney rendering of the ’60s series sees Christopher Lloyd step into the beloved Ray Walston role, playing the titular alien who makes friends with, and trouble for, Jeff Daniels’s newsman. Despite its colorful supporting cast, which featured Daryl Hannah, Elizabeth Hurley, and Walston himself, the film didn’t perform well with critics or audiences, crash landing with a 12 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953)
After they met Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and Captain Kidd, Abbott and Costello accidentally wound up on a ship bound for Mars, only to, in turn, accidentally wind up at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Playing on the popular adage, the pair also make a stop at Venus, which is populated entirely by women. This endearing comedy is the only film on the roster that’s ultimately Mars-free.
Total Recall (1990)
One wonders what pop auteur Paul Verhoeven thinks about his 1990 Philip K. Dick-inspired classic being remade in 2012. Because, while greater originals have sat helpless while being shamelessly regurgitated, this is one that certainly needs no overhaul. One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s better films, Total Recall, of course, stars the action hero as Doug Quaid, who struggles with uncertain realities and memory-implant procedures, and may just be a Martian warrior.
War of the Worlds (1953)
Steven Spielberg’s 2005 remake surely has its fans, but since we’re already on a kick with Byron Haskin and the 1950s, let’s keep on our purist path and end with Haskin’s version, whose imagery alone is unquestionably more indelible and iconic than Spielberg’s. The fascination with H.G. Wells’s 1898 novel seems rather limitless, capable of yielding an interpretation for every subsequent era. When one thinks of mid-20th century sci-fi, Haskin’s take on the invasion thriller rushes to mind.