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The Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day has been waiting all its life to say this: We come in peace.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s Behind the Scenes Pic!

Today we’re going to look at Joe Dante’s Explorers, another childhood favorite of mine. The flick is a pretty great example of kid wish fulfillment. I mean, who didn’t want to build a spaceship with their friends and impress the cute neighborhood girl?

And it has Dick Miller and every kid wanted to have Dick Miller in their life, right? Or was that just me?

Click to enlargen!



If you have a behind the scenes shot you’d like to submit to this column, you can email me at

I ain’t ‘fraid of tomorrow’s Behind the Scenes pic!

-Eric Vespe
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Click here to visit the complete compilation of previous Behind the Scenes images, Page One

Click here to visit the complete compilation of previous Behind the Scenes images, Page Two

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:25 a.m. CST

    The Thunderoad! Man o man did I want to make my own spaceship.

    by JediRob

    Love this movie. A forgotten classic.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:26 a.m. CST

    Then you go ..IN PIECES..

    by paul burnett

    ..Lundgren, Benben...awesome

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:27 a.m. CST

    Ghostbusters tomorrow?

    by paul burnett

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Great film,one of my fav fantasy films when i was a kid.

    by KilliK

    ah the memories.damn,i feel old.

  • were they going to take all their classmates in space?

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Most Amazing Kids Flick No One Heard Of!

    by Darkplanet

    Thank you for this picture! New desktop! The Explorers had a profound affect on me growing up. It was such an empowering movie for a 13 year old to see and they presented it in a clever, semi-plausible way. It inspired me to build not 1 but 2 full spaceship interiors, which I filmed little movies on, in my basement! (God love my parents for letting me do that!) No, my versions of the "Thunder Road" didn't leave the planet but they did in my mind :)

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:35 a.m. CST

    A good movie, but the ending just...*ends*

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    There's no narrative wrap-up, no emotional's literally like the last reel of the movie is missing. I know Joe Dante had to meet a pre-existing release date, and basically couldn't finish the film to his satisfaction, but ther movie is a frustrating near-miss for me...the young leads are all terrific, the special effects are top-notch, Jerry Goldsmith's score is beautiful, yet I always come away from the film having enjoyed it, yet never feeling completely satisfied, like the third course of a three-course meal never getting to the table.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:35 a.m. CST

    Please state the nature of the medical emergency

    by Mickster_Island

    Robert Picardo was the alien - knew who he was as a kid (cos of Trek and Inner Space); didn't know it was him singin All Around the World til recently

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:40 a.m. CST

    @mickster_island...WOW! I had no idea that was Picardo!

    by AlienFanatic

    I was enthralled with the movie when I was younger and that song, "All around the world" was great fun. The movie itself was a joy, even though it was definitely a more positive kind of film than would fly today.

  • Rob Bottin's efforts were pretty cool too.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:45 a.m. CST


    by scrote

    I thought that was Little Richard.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:45 a.m. CST


    by Blue_Demon

    Bob Picardo is a favorite of Rob Bottin. He's worked with him a lot since their first outing on The Howling. He played Meg Mucklebones the swamp witch in LEGEND and was the model for Johnny the Cab driver in TOTAL RECALL. He was also the husky in John Carpenter's THE THING. (kidding!)

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:58 a.m. CST

    I don't remember the father from Family Ties . . .

    by Nice Marmot

    . . . working in Hollywood. They lived in Columbus, OH . . .

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 12:01 p.m. CST

    Remember seeing this

    by TheBringerOfRain

    as a double feature with E.T. My younger brother and I still reflect on what a great day at the movies was for both of us, two solid movies and 5 hours at the rinky-dink theatre in our hometown. This was a truely fun movie to experience as a kid.

  • .. a gravity shielded orb. Hell, I was even stupid enough to believe it was possible back in the day.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 12:26 p.m. CST

    I wish Dante never had his budget cut on this one

    by MattHooper

    could have been so much better, if he had been allowed to finish it the way he intended. Listening to him discuss that on YouTube just broke my heart.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST

    Man I LOVED this movie...

    by LargoJr

    Was SO very kewl for me.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 1:03 p.m. CST

    The little kid eating through the mask...comedy gold.

    by Fortunesfool

    You could see JJ Abrams aiming for that level of 'family chaos' in Super 8, but falling short, as usual. Speaking of which, how come Dante made a brilliant retro-kids movie (The Hole) and no one batted an eyelid, but Abrams does it (badly) and it's like nerd xmas? Anyone explain that?

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 1:03 p.m. CST

    Nearly a classic kids film until the dreadful 3rd act...

    by Billy_D_Williams

    Christ, talk about dropping the ball. Even as a kid I was horrified by the severe left turn this movie makes when they reach the ship. Up til then it was great. Goldsmith's score rocks.

  • As a kid this movie utterly fascinated me. I used to draw my own Explorer crafts all the time... but never did I make it all the way through the movie. I would regularly turn it off as soon as that alien jumped out and started singing.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 1:54 p.m. CST

    Flight of the Navigator has that problem too.

    by Randy

    Amazing build-up to a more than underwhelming final act, that really just doesn't deliver on Your expectations. Explorers is a wonderful movie for most of it, that counts for something.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 1:57 p.m. CST

    I remember when this came out but I never saw it

    by disfigurehead

    Still haven't seen it. I think it's one of those that passed me by. Now that I'm an old ass I doubt I ever will see it.

  • ya gotta give a shout out to Robert Picardo and all his work with Joe Dante. Rob Bottin's make up of the alien kids was a wonderful extension of his work for Dante's Twilight Zone segment.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 2:03 p.m. CST


    by scrote

    Nah, ya should see it.'re only old once...

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 2:09 p.m. CST

    And I gotta agree, the last act where the teens find out

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    that the aliens are just like themselves, only spazzier, who learned everything from tv....yea, a letdown.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Dick Miller rules.

    by cookylamoo

    Bucket of Blood is one of the best horror flicks ever.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Oh and where's Dolph and Brian Benben...

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    ..oh, never mind.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 2:13 p.m. CST

    Explorers, My Science Project, and Night of the Comet...

    by sonnyhooper

    ....were all in HEAVY rotation in the family VCR when i was a kid.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Oh, and much as I love Tim Burton's Ed Wood, I wonder what

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    Joe Dante would have done with the same material (the drive-in movie is like classic Wood/cheesy foriegn StarWars knock off)..

  • These are the things that people can form real attachment to, and that can evoke a meaningful response. CG can do wonderful things, but the removal of the requirement to work with physical things has altered art - all forms of art - in a permanently damaging way. It's a type of damage that will take a while to really appreciate.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 2:53 p.m. CST

    kevred - I know what you mean, but even CGI does use

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    maquettes and models for color, size, and shape reference. So there is still some handcrafting involved...even if its just illustrations. There are movies like 50/50 and The Ides Of March that still employ digital artists that do correction and touch up, and their efforts are invisible.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 3:07 p.m. CST

    @sonnyhooper - We'd have gotten along just fine.

    by Cletus Van Damme

    Maybe throw in Weird Science for good measure.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 3:41 p.m. CST

    sonny and cletus - another title that fits easily in those choices..

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    ..The Last Starfighter. A fun and cool movie.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 4:45 p.m. CST

    From Lori to smokin' hot Cindy Mancini

    by elmo

    We miss Amanda Peterson, left the industry in the 90's

  • You know, this kind of suffers from the same problems that I highlighted for "Poltergeist" in that talkback. The first two acts of this movie is simply WOW. Some stunning fucking stuff there. And yet, when they get into space, it becomes a weird screwball comedy with Aliens who've stolen thier Dad's spaceship and want to communicate with mankind cause they like earth TELEVISION?!?! WHAT. THE. FUCK ?!?! This could've been a beautiful, meaningful sci-fi movie which could've been regarded as a classic of the genre. When the kids got out into space and met the aliens, it should've actually taken a darker tone - with the aliens looking like the Greys (think X-Files) and actually be quite sinister. We should've found out that the wars, pollution and shit going on here are deeply concerning other alien races out there, who are strongly considering destroying earth simply because it's home to a barbaric, warmongering race - and are afraid of what they will be capable of once they have the technology to leave the solar system. However, they communicate with the kids cause they know that earth's children are the generation that can change things - and then these kids realise that they are Earth's second chance. They have to step up and be the generation that changes the disastrous trajectory that mankind is on. They have to remember what they've learned, grow into adults, carry the message to others and basically get humanity as a whole to sort thier fucking heads out. Otherwise it's fucking lights out. The aliens then tell them they think the experiment has been a success and will be contacting more children to do the same. Adults have thier heads too much up thier own ass. And the aliens know that. It's the kids they need to get the message across too. I ain't a screenwriter or director or anything - but no one here can fucking deny that a message like this could've turned "Explorers" into something fucking amazingly powerful and meaningful. But no. They had aliens that sang Chuck Berry songs, quoted Elmer Fudd and did fart jokes. What a fucking waste of a great opportunity. But still, having said all that, my little girl still loves this movie!

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 6:07 p.m. CST

    Paris? Paris?!! Bye-bye!

    by Dollar Bird

    This movie (as well as some others previously mentioned) were in heavy rotation on Showtime one childhood summer. Must have watched this one a dozen times. Sometimes twice in a day, since Showtime often showed a movie in the morning and then repeated it for prime time. Thems was the days... I'm a little bewildered by all those who say the movie fell apart at the end. Perhaps it's the fact that I haven't seen the movie since that Showtime summer, but it never bothered me as a kid. You guys sound like the one kid who was upset that the aliens were goofy and that his friend got to chat with the girl alien first. (I will admit that I never liked the father alien and all of his scenes were kind of stupid. Especially the bit where it implies he picks up the 3 boys, puts them in their spaceship, and throws it out the window.) But maybe I'm just remembering this flick with nostalgia-colored glasses.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 6:21 p.m. CST

    Never liked Explorers

    by murray_hamilton

    Wish I did

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 7:09 p.m. CST

    cletus van damme and openthepodbaydoorshal..

    by sonnyhooper

    now we are talking hyper-space

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 7:14 p.m. CST

    my brothers from another mother...

    by sonnyhooper

    ....of course WEIRD SCIENCE and STARFIGHTER were in the rotation. i'm just shocked im not the only person who remembers MY SCIENCE PROJECT.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 9:15 p.m. CST

    Joe Dante essentially DID his own version of Ed Wood with Matinee

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Now there's a movie worthy of a Blu-Ray ressurection.

  • Seriously? I guess you missed the part about the alien kids were just looking for some friends, with the entire point being that just because they're aliens doesn't mean they can or even want to take over/destroy the Earth. What you are saying is that it should have had the same end as THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL or THE ABYSS or AVATAR or any number of other sci-fi movies from the 1950's on? For as lame as some/most think the end is as it stands, how much of a bummer would it have been to turn a pretty simple adventure fantasy into a school lecture on why humans (you, the audience) suck so much. You know what? I think with that as an alternative I'll take the Robert Picardo routine.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 9:39 p.m. CST

    All Around the World

    by Blanket-Man

    Never saw the movie, but I definitely remember Robert Palmer's rockin' theme song! "They do the boooOOOP! The Texas hooooOOOOP!"

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 1:49 a.m. CST

    What I remember Explorers for the most

    by Keith

    We were doing a nerdy quiz at work one Friday where someone played snippets of minor tracks from genre movies to see if we could place them. Some of them were easy, especially the James Horner ones, even though most of his scores are the same. (I placed Krull simply because I knew it was Horner but I knew I didn't recognize the score particularly, and it was one of the few Horner-scored fantasy movies I'd only seen once.) Anyway, a track from Explorers was played. I didn't remember it at all and thought it sounded vaguely Goldsmith. But I got it just by thinking of the images it suggested...a sense of wonder, adventure, an evocation of West-coast forests...wait, is it 'Explorers'? It is? Woo-hoo! Five points to me. Nice work, Goldsmith. Explorers is also one of the (many) movies that came out in the 80s and seemed to have a decent budget yet had had either a limited or no theatrical release in the UK. That used to happen quite a lot...there would always be some non-trivial studio movies you'd encounter for the first time at your video store on VHS. Blockbuster et al were little palaces of wonder where you'd find gems and duffers in equal measure, and had little to go on other that the packaging. No internet, no current reviews, maybe some quotes on the box. Pay your money and hope for the best. A lucky dip.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 9:05 a.m. CST

    Misterdarcy - I know just what you mean re:Blockbuster...

    by Joaquin_Ondamoon

    There was that middle shelf in every section, that held all the direct-to-video and small releases that I used to peruse, wandering about in this gigantic Blockbuster near my house. Then you'd make your choices and take them home. It was like Christmas morning, hoping you got what you wanted as you slid the VHS into the player. I discovered 'Nemesis' (not the Trek one - the Cyborg one), and 'Blood of Heroes' that way. I miss those times.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 9:29 a.m. CST

    Dick Miller...

    by ryderdvs

    Goddamn foreign cars.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 11:16 a.m. CST

    I spent years...

    by Jon Forbing

    Trying to remember what this movie was. I just remembered being a little kid and seeing a movie where other little kids built their own spaceship and met aliens. It was one of those things I would ask other people my age about and just get shrugged at. Ah, life before the internet made everything accessible. Now, I just have to remember the name of that cartoon about the people who turned into sea -creatures...

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 5:01 p.m. CST

    monroville, totally understand your point...

    by ChickenStu

    But for me, the trajectory that "Explorers" seemed to be on in it's first two acts leads one to believe it's heading for something meaningful. Whilst my idea might not seem appetising for some... there is nothing wrong with bringing a little darkness into a kid's movie. There is nothing stopping a kid's movie having a powerful central message and having something to say. "Explorers" with it's myriad sci-fi references ("The Day The Earth Stood Still", "This Island Earth", "The War Of The Worlds") easily set itself up for an easy segue into more mature territory. There would've been absolutely nothing wrong with it. My idea would've been EMPOWERING to the child audience in much the same way "E.T The Extra Terrestrial" is. Let's take a look at E.T for just a moment. OK. That is a kid's movie. But it meets kids on thier own territory. It presents children as REAL, with REAL problems. It's not like "Home Alone" which is no more than a kid's wish fulfillment fantasy. That's why it's so good and that's why kids respond to it. A good kid's movie credits it's target audience with a bit of intelligence. IMO "Explorers" in its final act doesn't achieve that. It's a damn shame.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 5:05 p.m. CST

    and monroville another thing...

    by ChickenStu

    It's not about so much telling the audience they suck and are horrible. It's more about making kids feel empowered to do something good once they've left the theatre. That would be the message I'd be trying to get across...