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Martial Martians

Invaders From Mars
It's Payback Time: One of the big-headed, tentacled 'Invaders From Mars,' showing July 4 at the Stanford Theater.

The angry planet gets angrier as Stanford Theater flaunts invasion flicks for Fourth

By Richard von Busack

THE MARTIANS are a peaceful, home-loving race much insulted by Hollywood imagery portraying them with bubble eyes and oversized, pulsing chartreuse brains. The U.S.-engineered probe landing on the sovereign territory of Mars this July 4 is the last straw for these beings. How can the U.S., in its arrogance, even claim July 4 as the date for this effort? Are we to believe that the Martians have no calendar of their own? This deliberate provocation is hardly the first iron grasp by the earthling's jackboot.

True, in the past, the Martians have watched our green planet closely, but it has not been with covetous eyes, as has been misreported by the Earth-dominated press. It has been with the fraternal respect and warm admiration due neighbors. This love and friendliness has been repaid by such films as the stereotype-ridden 1953 motion pictures War of the Worlds and Invaders of Mars, playing July 3 at the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto. Sniveling scholars have tried to justify these two libelous films as metaphor for the "red panic" of the Cold War, but this is a smoke screen. The two films are meant to be taken literally as an effort to portray Martians as tenacled, world-dominating fiends who destroy L.A. and take over human minds.

The revival of these outrages is a rabble-rousing prelude to the Day of Infamy, July 4. With criminal pride, the Stanford is playing Rocketship X-M, an early science-fiction film that slurs Mars' postatomic mutant community, a disadvantaged group that has made great strides in the past few eons. As if this were not bad enough, the Stanford is also hooking up a satellite feed to enable earthist dupes to cackle over plundered footage of Mars. To add insult to injury, an Earth scientist, Dr. Christopher McKay, will address the masses about the state of Mars exploration. For the final insult, the Soviet silent film Aelita: Queen of Mars will be shown at the Stanford on July 11, with live musical accompaniment. We can probably expect the theremin, a Martian folk instrument brought out only for happy events such as weddings, christenings and tentacle notchings, used gratuitously to thrill the audience with its foreignness.

The Stanford's act of provocation will not be forgotten when and if the Martians decide to repay a century of cinematic slurs with an armada of death-ray equipped flying saucers, unleashed legions of Fourth Planet rat-bat-spiders and a formal protest at the World Court. The earthling octopus will soon be singing its swan song!

War of the Worlds (7:30pm) and Invaders From Mars (6 and 9:10pm) show July 3. Rocketship X-M (6 and 8:45pm) shows July 4, with Dr. McKay's talk at 7:30pm). Aelita, Queen of Mars (7:30pm) shows July 11. All at the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto.

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Web exclusive to the July 3-9, 1997 issue of Metro.

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