Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

****

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Based on the novel by Jack Finney (no relation to Albert), Invasion Of The Body Snatchers was directed by a pre-Dirty Harry Don Siegel and is still considered a classic sci-fi horror movie.

After returning home from a convention, Doctor Miles Benell (Kevin McCarthy) finds that many of his patients are mysteriously claiming that their loved ones are different somehow. Though initially dismissing it as mass hysteria, Benell and his former-sweetheart Becky (Dana Wynter) soon find out that replica humans are being grown from giant alien pods so that they can replace us one by one

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Though modern viewers probably won’t be impressed by the low-budget effects and there are holes you could poke in the plot, the noir-style bleakness gives it a taut atmosphere that most contemporary movies still cannot match. Offering up a few goosebump-inducing chills, the impact is such that you’d be forgiven for feeling suspicious of anyone with a blank look on their face from now on.

Indeed, such was its influence that it spawned a slew of remakes and similarly-themed flicks. In 1979, there was the Donald Sutherland-starring remake, which most now consider the definitive version, in 1993 there was the adequately-received sequel and in 2007 we had Oliver Hirschbiegel’s re-titled The Invasion with Daniel Craig, which was reportedly messed up by studio interference. Damn money-hungry fat-cats.

Elsewhere, Robert Heinlein’s popular novel The Puppet Masters has a similar plot, consequently the 1994 screen adaptation of the same name starring Donald Sutherland also does and 1998’s The Faculty makes heavy reference to both. Hell, there was even an episode of The X-Files (Ice, in Season One, for those interested) which had a copyright-infringement-risking plot. Surprisingly, Donald Sutherland didn’t feature.

As you would expect from any movie deemed ‘a classic’, there has been great depth attached to Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Despite the fact that producer Walter Wanger, director Don Siegel, screenwriter Dan Mainwaring and original author Jack Finney all claimed it was never anything other than a thriller, various critics and enthusiasts continually label it as an allegory for anti-communist paranoia. While this reading does fit (the Soviet cold war threatening to take individuality and turn everyone into a drone), the movie works better as a celebration of individuality and the importance of emotions to humanity. Not convinced? Just approach it as a thriller, then.

Overall, this is still rightly considered as one of the best examples of science fiction out there. Just no more copycats for a while, please.

Reviewed on: 01 Mar 2009
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A doctor finds his community is being secretly taken over by an alien invasion.
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Director: Don Siegel

Writer: Jack Finney, Daniel Mainwaring, Richard Collins

Starring: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke, Virginia Christine, Tom Fadden, Kenneth Patterson

Year: 1956

Runtime: 80 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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