Scott MacQueen was always a fan of 'Invaders from Mars' before restoring it.
The film preservationist has had a career in restoring films and upgrading them to a higher definition for decades but explained that working on the 1953 American science fiction horror film - which stars Jimmy Hunt Arthur Franz, Helena Carter, Leif Erickson, Hillary Brooke, Morris Ankrum, Walter Sande, Max Wagner, and Milburn Stone as they follow an alien invasion - had always been a "guilty pleasure" to him.
He said: "Well, it was kind of fun. It's a picture I've loved all of my life, and it's one of my guilty pleasures. When I was at UCLA, I made the acquaintance of Jan Willem Jansen from Ignite Films. Ignite has a library of [niche genre] titles, and they're based in the Netherlands, but all of their library holdings are in America are vaulted at UCLA. So, Jan had taken a meeting, I was called and Invaders was one he was very hard on. He didn't know the history of it, and I explained to him pretty definitely how the film was shot, how it was made and what the problem was."
Scott went on to add that because of the nature of how the cult classic was made, there was "nowhere" to go in terms of a preserved version and a "stroke of luck" was needed to drive the project forward.
He told ScreenRant: "Because nowhere is there, in one place, a contiguous, ready-to-go element, by the nature of how it was made. It was all cut up and assembled, and then it was recut for reissue, and it was a pretty daunting thing, there were elements of everything in the archives. So, it just kind of got tabled, and then by a stroke of luck or happenstance, Jan Willem located the camera negative in a stock library in Los Angeles, where it must have been sold after Eddie Alperson went bankrupt. The camera negative lacks all the titles and all the opticals, because those were made in the printing negatives, which are not known to exist.
"If it's all straight cuts, it's there, but the minute you go through a transition or something—for many shots that they did opticals within the film, where they did enlargements or flopovers or the dream montage at the end—it's all gone. That's what I had explained to him back then. The camera negative was missing Reel 2, and it was not in the holding, so we were missing eight minutes altogether. We had about 60 minutes out of 78 of camera negative that could be used, which meant we had to come up with about 20 minutes from other sources, and those sources were vintage 1950s supersonic color prints, with all their attributes and flaws and the accretion of 70 years of handling."