The War of the Worlds, The Dark Crystal, Vacancy: films on TV today

The Martians are coming, Jim Henson wants to tell you a Muppet-free story, and something really bad is about to happen in a seedy motel room: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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BARRY NORMAN:  FILM OF THE DAY 

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The War of the Worlds ★★★★
11.00am-12.45pm Film Four 

This version of the HG Wells novel is not as dated as you might expect. Special effects were in their infancy when it was made in 1953 but they still look pretty spectacular here. Spidery creatures from Mars invade California and wreak havoc; cities are destroyed and people burned alive by their deadly weapons. What’s more, even atom bombs can’t hurt the Martians. It’s down to scientist Gene Barry and his squeeze Ann Robinson to save the day – with, as it turns out, a little help from God. And Cedric Hardwicke’s commentary explains why the Martians came in the first place. The special effects won an Oscar and the film was widely regarded as one of the great sci-fi movies of the 1950s.


The Dark Crystal ★★★★

5.00-6.50pm Film Four 

Jim Henson proves there’s a more sombre side to his Muppet creations with this Tolkien-esque fantasy in which two elf-like Gelflings go on a quest to restore a magic crystal and end the reign of the evil Skeksis.    


Hellboy ★★★

9.00-11.35pm Film Four 

The half-man/half-devil Hellboy goes in to bat for the forces of good in this exotic comic-book adaptation from Guillermo Del Toro. Ron Perlman stars.  


The Day After ★★★

9.00-11.00pm True Entertainment 

A nuclear attack and its aftermath are explored in this TV movie at its best detailing the personal trauma and dogged spirit of survivors (including Jason Robards and John Lithgow). 


Vacancy ★★★★
11.00pm-12.45am Movie Mix 

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The spirit of Norman Bates – updated for the digital age – looms over this creepy thriller, with Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson as a couple who need a bed for the night.    


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