Starlog Archives: Tim Burton Explains Mars Attacks

In the late eighties, Tim Burton became one of the hottest directors in Hollywood.  The former Disney animator brought a unique visual style to his movies which included hits like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman.  Burton rode that momentum into the 90’s with his most personal movie to date, Edward Scissorhands and a dark Batman sequel.  In 1994, Ed Wood was praised by critics but flopped at the box office.  By 1996, Burton’s career path was staring to look murky.

Just in time for the holiday season, Burton directed a B-movie based on kitschy trading cards from his youth.  The cards depicted scenes of malevolent aliens conquering the earth.  There was very little narrative to adapt, just bizarre and often gruesome imagery.  To make the movie more commercial, Burton packed his cast with familiar faces including Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox and Jack Nicholson.

The gamble did not pay off.  Mars Attacks! was a box office flop.  Afterwards, Burton took a three year hiatus before directing his next movie.  In this cover story from the January 1997 issue of Starlog, Burton talks about his new B-movie.


Posted on January 16, 2017, in Movies, Starlog Archives and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Mars Attacks! may have flopped at the box office but it was a real gem of a movie, perfectly blending comedy with sci-fi. My favorite bit from the movie is where the Martians are running down the street zapping people with their laser guns, all the while the translator is announcing “Don’t run! We are your friends!” Great stuff, this movie makes me laugh every time.


    • I really intensely disliked Mars Attacks! when I saw it. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t. I haven’t watched it since. May be time to revisit it.


      • I found it funny the first time I saw it in late 1996 (during its theatrical run). Saw it a second time and still laughed albeit not as much. Saw it a couple more times and each time the laughs got sparser. It’s fun to watch once. But doesn’t really hold up very well to repeat viewings.


        • That doesn’t bode well for the whole “revisit” plan. Because I found it devoid of laughs the first time. Still, I have been wrong before. Not often, but it has happened. 😉


  2. I think this film is okay to watch during a rainy Saturday afternoon or something, but it didn’t blow me away.


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