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November 14, 2013

Midnight Movie of the Week #202 - Invasion of the Body Snatchers

"In an hour... you won't want them to. In an hour, you'll be one of us." 
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Virginia Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum.
Directed by Philip Kaufman.
Rated PG for not-quite-nudity, gooey huge fetuses, Veronica Cartwright's tears, rat turds, and lots of screaming.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers in Six Words:
Pod People seduce '70s San Francisco.
Why You'll Love It:
I doubt any film has had two better remakes (this one and Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers) than Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The original film still packs a punch despite some heavy-handed politics, but Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake stands on its own as a thoughtful and dramatic retelling of the original story. Kaufman's film is dark and serious, with only a few nods to the original's tone (like the cameo by original star Kevin McCarthy). It's a rather intense tale of lost identity that adapts well to its new setting, with a great cast led by Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy offering excellent performances.
The Highlights:
  • Any scene featuring a young Jeff Goldblum, who reacts in a perfectly cynical manner to the idea of pod people. He's only a small part of this film, but it's easy to see how he became a star through this performance.
  • Going along with that point, a mid film scene in which the female leads discuss the possible infestation and its floral roots with a skeptical Goldblum starts to bring the film together as it prepares for a high paced finish.
  • I've never been entirely fond of the film's final ten or fifteen minutes - I think I want more from the story than this rushed finish - but most will tell you the final scene is one of the most iconic moments in modern sci-fi/horror.
  • Also there's the human faced dog. Yeah, you gotta see it.
Also Worth Knowing:
  • Donald Sutherland was hit by a Volkswagen beetle while performing his own stunts for the film. Who wants to be the guy who hits Donald Sutherland with their car? Not this guy.
  • As noted earlier, this is the first remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Ferrara's Body Snatchers was released in 1993, and the forgettable The Invasion, starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and a returning Veronica Cartwright, was released in 2007. So we can probably bet on another version by 2019.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is for Fans of...
Spock, curly haired Sutherlands, paranoia, San Francisco based cinema (Has any city had more great movies set in it? I say NO.), cynical sci-fi, and human faced dogs.

If You Like This, You Might Also Like...
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955) (Obviously.)
Village of the Damned (1960)
The Mephisto Waltz (1971)
Magic (1978)


Warden Stokely said...

Hi Mike
I dig on your blog. And a young Jeff Goldblum? How could I have missed that. Seriously ordering it up from the library tomorrow. Thanks for the tip! And hell, I don't know if I'm worthy, but I saw your help wanted sign...go ahead and check out my blog, and if you find me worthy, hit me up. And by the way, Congratulations! You are the recipient of the Sunshine Award! Until next time...Keep those fires stoked!
Eternally yours

: said...

New reader chiming in (love your blog, BTW!):

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is in my Top Ten, easily, even with its flaws. I realized recently as I was making a list of my favorites on a message board or something that many of my favorite horror films are about "invasion from within". I must have some phobia I didn't know I had, re: disease/parasites/etc. Case in point: the films at the top of my list include this one, Carpenter's THE THING, Cronenberg's THE FLY, and -- maybe a bit of a stretch, but I think it could apply here -- THE EXORCIST.