“People are being duplicated. And once it happens to you, you’re part of this…”
Fleeing a dying planet, a race of jelly-like aliens make their way through the universe and arrive on Earth, settling in San Francisco. Assimilating with Earth’s plant life, the aliens begin a slow and insidious takeover of the human race by duplicating them, killing the original in the process.
Starring Brooke Adams as Elizabeth, Donald Sutherland as her Health Inspector BFF, Matthew, Jeff Goldblum as Matthew’s writer friend, Jack, Veronica Cartwright as Jack’s wife, Nancy, and Leonard Nimoy as Dr. David Kibner, a psychiatrist and Jack’s friend. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the 1978 remake of 1956 film of the same name, based on the novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney. It is directed by Philip Kaufman.
“Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.”
Um, no. No, thank you! Like most horror films, falling asleep brings out the stuff most comfortable in the dark, where it can carry on, unobserved and undisturbed. It is also the major catalyst of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, wherein once you fall asleep, your pod double can basically suck you dry and take over your existence. Leaving, in your wake, a zombie-like creature who looks like you, talks like you, but isn’t … you. There is no escape from it. It’s spread, like a deadly incurable disease or virus, is rapid and devastating.
The first time I saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I had my mother remove all of the plants from my room. Regardless, I still had trouble sleeping for a week.
Kaufman does many things right with his version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and lends significant credence to the idea that sometimes, remaking a film can occasionally bring a freshness and intensity to the existing work. Kaufman is not afraid to let you get close to its main characters, a pair of friends (possibly more?), Elizabeth and Matthew, both of whom work for the San Francisco Department of Health.
It is their intimacy and easy friendship that creates the initial intensity and force behind the sinister events of the film, ultimately creating an unnerving sympathy for them as things begin to go off the rails. Without this sympathy, while there’s plenty of scares in the film, the suspense would be less insistent.
Performances by Sutherland and Nimoy are notable, if not safe. There are moments where Adams, Goldblum, and Cartwright appear to be overacting, but I lay this at Kaufman’s feet, not theirs. It’s difficult, sometimes in the extreme, for actors in the sci-fi genre to successfully imagine/visualize a scene’s given context and then react to it appropriately. And, at any rate, these performances add to the overall, lasting campy adoration many feel for the film.
1.) Yes. Curiosity is a beautiful thing, but so is respect and caution when dealing with the unknown. I mean, yeah, the plants have a pretty flower, but poison oak and poison ivy aren’t exactly ugly.
2.) Yes. The transformation begins when you fall asleep and it can happen to anyone, without their consent.
3.) Yes. There are some great moments here, like when Jeff Goldblum’s character discovers his “clone” and then again when it opens its eyes (see scene clip below).
Pod Creature Opens its Eyes:
Wiki facts: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
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