The inspiration for Invaders was the early days of science fiction that involved special effects filmed with models hung from wires, and story lines of saucers from Mars coming here to destroy us for no apparent reason. We watched these films from behind steamed up windshields at drive-in theaters, where the stars shown from the grand abyss over the top of the screen – reminding us we knew little about what there was “out there.”
No matter how bad the acting (and it could be truly horrible), or how silly the effects were, we still felt uneasy and went home looking into the sky and wondering… what if?
Invaders is inspired by the imagery of saucers coming at us, from nowhere, bent on destruction. Like Vikings of the distant future, not bothering to communicate (with some notable exceptions). In this case, a flight of three doing a fly-by through the smoke rising from the destroyed landscape below.
While I enjoy the special effects generated by CG today, and the accompanying sound tracks, a part of me will always be in the model makers, physical stop frame animators and the mechanical contrivances of animatronics craftsman. They made things from clay, plaster, fiberglass, wood, metal, and their blood, sweat and tears – making space invaders real. In those days, computers were as big as semi-trucks, and oh so slow. Star Wars (1977) could arguably be pointed to as the apex of this genre of model and puppet based animation. It, along with Star Trek, presented the real shift away from anonymous invaders came from films like ‘West World’ ‘Logan’s Run’, ‘TH-1138’ and ‘Silent Running’, when it all became about first person “we” dealing with our dystopia or invasions – which ended the reign of ‘It Came from Outer Space’ and ‘War of the Worlds’ as the thriller premise of choice.
I still like the intrigue of Alien interactions by those with no known motivation, like ‘Alien’, where the intruders are big, bad, and deadly for no apparent reason, or ‘Extinction’ where the invasion is out of our capacity of understanding.
Imagine what the craftsman era special effects artists could have done in their day with 3D printer technology… We will never know. CGI emerged first. Little did the craftsman know that their art, and craft, would be relegated to the same dumpster as the drive in theaters that brought so many into the grip of sci-fi. Reminds me of what has happened to graphics illustrators, suffering a similar fate.
Seems the destructive invaders were here all along… for some of us anyway.
You can see more details and a 360 degree view of this piece at: Invaders on Lumenique.
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