A parasitic alien race is abandoning their dying planet, in search of a new place. They travel to Earth, and take form as small pink flowers which look innocent enough and won’t cause any suspicion. The laboratory scientist Elizabeth Driscoll brings one of these flowers home, unaware of their origins, and the next day she wakes up finding her boyfriend Geoffrey behaving like a totally different person. He is cold and distant towards her, and she gets the paranoid feeling that her own boyfriend might actually be an impostor. She confides in her colleague and friend, Matthew Bennell, who advises her to talk to a psychiatrist. Soon, they start encountering other people who believes their loved ones have been replaced by impostors, and everything escalates from there as the alien duplicates seem to be taking over the entire world.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1978 science fiction horror film, directed by Philip Kaufman. It is based in the 1955 novel The Body Snatchers which was written by Jack Finney, and which was previously adapted into a 1956 film by the same name as this film. Upon its release it received varied reviews from the critics, which has gotten more favorable over the tears. It grossed nearly $25 million. The director had been a fan of the 1956 film, and had the cinematographer Michael Chapman try and capture the film noir feel of the original, just in color. The sound editor, Ben Burtt, who had earlier worked on some of the sound effects on Star Wars the year before, added to the film’s ambience where natural sounds mixes with the city’s industrial noises. And of course the famous “shriek” the aliens give off then spotting a real human, which was composed of many elements, including a pig squeal. The film also has a number of cameo appearances, including Kevin McCarthy who played Dr. Bennell in the 1956 movie, and that film’s director, Don Siegel, who appears as a taxi driver.
The film holds nothing back when it comes to any mystery, as we know already from the first scene that there are aliens coming to Earth to take over the place. Exactly how this is done is probably the only kind of mystery, and we do indeed get some gorgeously nasty scenes involving this process. It’s a bit of a slow burner at times, focusing on setting an atmosphere of paranoia and underlying terror, but overall it’s a fun popcorn-flick. The horror and science fiction elements work in a perfect combination, and while there never is any mystery as to what is happening, we still feel a certain tension when wondering how the characters will fare when meeting a world soon to be completely overruled by something that isn’t human. Everyone is going through feelings of distrust, panic and anxiety as they no longer know who to trust, and the duplicates are turning into beings devoid of any feelings and completely emotionally blunted, like a bunch of Zoloft-zombies. The cast is also pretty decent, with Donald Sutherland playing the role as Dr. Benell being the most recognizable here, as many of you have probably already seen a certain iconic scene or image from the movie starring him…
Overall, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a good sci-fi horror movie, telling the story of an unlikely yet still chilling alien invasion which goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Like in many other alien invasion movies where they come in giant motherships causing total mayhem, this one on the other hand is using a subtle kind of attack. It’s an invasion that could happen right under our noses, without any sign of what is going on until the damage is done and there’s no way back. I honestly find that concept more disturbing than a bunch of greys coming to wreak havoc…
Director: Philip Kaufman
Writer: W.D. Richter
Country & year: US, 1974
Actors: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy, Art Hindle, Lelia Goldoni, Kevin McCarthy, Don Siegel, Tom Luddy, Stan Ritchie, David Fisher, Tom Dahlgren