Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Collector's Edition)
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Overall Rating 73%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,751
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The first remake of the paranoid infiltration classic moves the setting for the invasion from a small town to the city of San Fransisco and starts as Matthew Bennell notices that several of his friends are complaining that their close relatives are in some way different. When questioned later they themselves seem changed as they deny everything or make lame excuses. As the invaders increase in number they become more open and Bennell, who has by now witnessed an attempted "replacement" realizes that he and his friends must escape or suffer the same fate. But who can he trust to help him and who has already been snatched? --IMDb
Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland
Brooke Adams
Brooke Adams
Jeff Goldblum
Jeff Goldblum
Veronica Cartwright
Veronica Cartwright
Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy
Review by Ginose
Added: September 29, 2008
Ugh... the idea of remaking a film that's been remade appeals to me about as well as I'm sure it appeals to many of you. Where as a remake can be just as good if not better than it's predecessor, a remake of a film that's already been remade nearly always ends up shitting itself (a rare exception, of course, being Jackson's "King Kong"... then again, compared to the 1970s film its not like there was much more to ruin, short of turning Kong into a monster with a heart of gol-- oh, wait...). One of these films, for me, was certainly the recent "The Invasion". This film somehow managed to take all of the atmosphere and character exposition that made the original a masterpiece of psychological horror was somehow sucked from the piece almost entirely, leaving a dry, saggy husk of the films before it (a rather boring one at that). Now, the classic shattered grounds at the time with its ever twisting plot and paranoid atmosphere, add to it one of the most unnerving endings in film history and you had a sci-fi/horror masterpiece for the ages. One could think it silly to attempt to remake a film that was damned near perfect as it was, but in 1977 Phillip Kaufman and W.D. Richter certainly managed to cram that thought up the people's collective ass.

Deep in the reaches of space, we are introduced to a fungus-like cloud of dust of alien origin; slowly but surely it is caught on solar winds, drifting it into the darkness (and opening credits). We follow it all the way to our own planet's atmosphere, where it takes in with our own clouds and is released via rain. The rain spreads to Earth where it adapts to our local plant-life, becoming a new variation of flora cocooned in a small pod. These pods become particularly popular with the citizens of this Californian town, one of which falls into the hands of Elizabeth Driscoll, a lab-tech for the Department of Health, who takes it home for further examination. The next morning the pod is missing and Elizabeth's husband isn't acting quite himself... a bit stirred, Elizabeth finds herself in the aid of her friend and colleague Matthew Bennell as they discover the city changing all around them... changing into something... strange...

Awkwardly enough, I really don't like comparing this film to the first adaptation, because it seems to take a different approach as to how it wants to tell the story. Where as the classic 1956 film relies more on presenting the terror of the situation through the way it's being handled, the remake tended to give us a better feel of the ignorance that the characters are stuck with, almost thrusting us into the same blind terror as them... we get the facts as they get them and know only the limit that they know. This provides for many memorable scenes, throughout, particularly the half-hour leading to the end: these last few minutes pump so much blind information into you that it doesn't take much to see how overwhelmed the character of Bennell is... then it ends and you realize exactly why you watch horror movies in the first place.

As much as I loved the performances throughout, I can't say any character really sold themselves as too fictional... this is both a blessing and a curse. While a lot of the characters (Sutherland and Goldblum, particularly) were written to be very still-lived and human, I found them switching around in their personalities a bit too much; a bit too overzealous in one scene, too dead-pan in another, etc. Sure, if you REALLY tried you could make it seem like each different mood is appropriate for each different seen, but that certainly doesn't make it any less distracting. This is just a minor gripe, as, like I said, only a few characters suffer from this, and it doesn't really distract from the theme of the movie.

Generally, this is the part where I apologize for making the plot description feel so flat, but this is a rare situation where the plot IS that flat. So, as far as things went, the story wasn't super-involved with its own set-up. This, however, I certainly would not call a problem, as it was part of the feel of the overall product. As you watch the movie, you can really get a sense of the paranoia and uncertainty that is constant in all of our lead characters own minds. Soon, you begin to feel the same wrenching fears and uncertainties as they do... quite a thrill it is, too...

Personally, I love this movie. A bit slow-paced, but that's appropriate for something with such a creeping mood to it. A movie with a feel like that is rare within itself, but with such a star cast and excellent direction, I'd definitely put this ahead of its genre. Best adaptation of the novel? I'd certainly say so.

bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 09/29/2008, 01:38 PM
10/10. One of the best horror films ever made. A longtime favorite of mine. Absolutely flawless.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #2: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 10/24/2008, 09:04 AM
Yep. This has just become a new favorite of mine. There are so many surprisingly creepy moments to be found in it, and I love the way it ends.

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