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Nightmare Fuel / The War of the Worlds

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Jeff Wayne's Musical Version:

See here.

Orson Welles' Radio Drama:

"There's a jet of flame springing from the mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they're turning into flame! ... Now the whole field's caught fire! The woods — the barns — the gas tanks of automobiles — it's spreading everywhere! It's coming this way — about twenty yards to my ri—"

  • "2X2L calling CQ, New York. 2X2L calling CQ, New York. Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there... anyone?"
  • The famous ending is this from the Martians' point of view: they'd eradicated disease so long ago they pretty much don't have an immune system...then fall victim to Earth diseases. They likely didn't know what was even happening to them. Granted, they kinda have it coming, but still a terrifying thought.


1953 film:
"Guns, tanks, bombs, they're like toys against them!"
  • The war machines, especially when first seeing the film as a young kid. The minimalist, hauntingly simple manta-ray design with the pulsating noise of the sensor-head and the booming sound of the Wave-Motion Gun. When the Marines attack, the Martians are just calmly sitting there, the sensor arms swaying back and forth as they identify and lock onto targets. Then, they open fire with all of their weapons...and they never miss.
    • Every single time they charge the heat ray, the pulsating noise gets faster and faster, right up until it fires. Anything and everything in front of them gets one Oh, Crap! before they're simply erased.
    • On top of that, one simple line from General Mann:
    "Once [the war machines] begin to move, no more news comes out of that area."
  • The entire farmhouse sequence after the meteor crashes into it. In the dark and desperate moments that follow, the "eye probe" would have been creepy enough, but then Forrester and Sylvia are surprised by one of the Martians themselves, whose inhuman look has more in common with an Eldritch Abomination than the goofy Rubber-Forehead Aliens you'd expect of 1950's sci-fi movies. More than one retrospective reviewer has confessed to childhood nightmares about the probe and/or the alien.
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  • Pretty much the majority of the last third of the movie. The air raid sirens, the frantic evacuations ahead of the war machines, looting and rioting, and a kid with a dog eating from an abandoned mell-o cream cart are just a few of the events foreshadowing the dreaded finale... the destruction of Los Angeles and the inexorable march of the war machines. The hero spends most of this time in a seemingly hopeless search for Sylvia and the other scientists, evading the war machines as they destroy everything in their path. He finally ends up in a church, with a large number of parishioners all waiting for the inevitable end as the Martians' engines of destruction draw ever nearer. In the end, even in the 1950s, this is a sci-fi horror movie, and looks the part.

The 2005 Film:

The 1988 TV series:

Dark Horse Graphic Novel:

  • Being a "mature audience" publication, the graphic novel was able to show the horrors of the Martians' violence in more grisly detail. Notably, it shows the aftermath of a Black Smoke attack, with Oxford Street and the area surrounding the Marble Arch packed with tens of thousands of bodies, all twisted in death agonies, and covered with dark soot after the gas became inert.


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