‘Inavasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1978) – Retro Review
The one film franchise that gets remade as more often than ‘The Punisher’, and one movie in Hollywood that actually has a valid reason for being revisited. The original version of the story emerged at a time when America was living under the threat of Communism infiltration and the movie’s alien invasion was a perfect representation of that societies fear of being forced into a threatening ideology. Returning in the late 1970’s, the alien infiltrators are a threat to the celebration of individuality of the ‘Me Generation’, and again for the ‘I Generation’ in the 90’s. Another remake appeared in the past decade (called ‘The Invasion’) in which the Body Snatchers took the place of terrorists (though it mostly demonstrated the danger of replacing your director mid-shoot and expecting good results). Plenty of other riffs exists, such as ‘The Faculty’, but none have quite managed to top the 1978’s version.
I’ll briefly assume you don’t know what the deal is: aliens have invaded Earth by creating replicas of people (known as ‘Pod People’ as they are grown in plant-like pods) who then take the place of their counterpart. The story starts with people complaining of their loved ones acting oddly, only for a small group to suddenly find themselves the last few people left.
Starring Jack Bauer’s Dad, the chaostician from ‘Jurassic Park’ and Bart Simpson, this film manages to transcend the slim metaphor that anchors it to create a tangible sense of paranoia and dread that doesn’t exist solely on the screen. As a viewer you can expect to experience the same level of uncertainty that the characters suffer through. Whenever they meet someone you never know if they’ve been replaced. This clever film-making is supplemented by cinematography which is surprisingly dark for the time and a well implemented soundtrack.
Very few horror and science-fiction movies know how to wring emotion out of their viewers these days, it’s refreshing to revisit a classic that can manage it.
NINE outta TEN