Invasion of Classic Science-Fiction Action Package from the 1950s: Mars, Venus among the Sources for Terror on Earth

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The cassette space cadets at Englewood Entertainment (816/252-4288) provide a major service for vintage sci-fi buffs by releasing 16 titles ($19.98 each) from the Wade Williams Collection under the banner Out of This World Videos: Science Fiction Gold. Leading the auspicious list are three '50s classics, previously out on the long-defunct Nostalgia Merchant label, returned to video racks after more than a decade's absence: William Cameron Menzies' 1953 Invaders From Mars perfectly captures the paranoid nightmares of a typical McCarthy-era tyke (Jimmy Hunt) as parents and local authority figures alike become homicidal pawns of the encroaching Martian menace. Menzies' German-expressionism-meets-American-comic-book style makes "Invaders" a stylistic standout among its '50s peers.

Despite its reliance on stock footage and cost-conscious FX, Kurt ("The Fly") Neumann's Kronos offers a chilling account of an energy-sucking colossus from outer space. Burt Balaban's Stranger From Venus, while basically a scaled-down Brit clone of Day the Earth Stood Still (complete with "Day" heroine Patricia Neal), compensates with atmosphere and a strong performance by Venusian visitor Helmut Dantine.

Also in the Out of This World package are The Astounding She Monster, Attack From Mars, The Brain From Planet Arous, The Crawling Eye, George Pal's Destination Moon (the "2001" of its day), Devil Girl From Mars, Flight to Mars, The Flying Saucer, The Hideous Sun Demon, Killers From Space, Phantom From Space, the Robert Heinlein-scripted Project Moonbase and Rocketship XM.


This week, Paramount puts out a mixed bag of vids trimmed to $9.98 each, leading with the recommended comedies Addams Family Values and Airplane! Also available are Eddie Murphy in the action comedy Beverly Hills Cop; Mary Beth Hurt in D.A.R.Y.L.; Jennifer Beals in Flashdance and Kevin Bacon in the similarly terpsichorean-themed Footloose; Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen in Major League; Leslie Nielsen in Naked Gun; John Hughes' Pretty in Pink, with Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer; Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger and Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment; and the juvenile dino-comedy trio Prehysteria! …