INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
MOVIE: ***** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
In 1978, Philip Kaufman remade the classic 1956 sci-fi thriller about seed pods from outer space coming to Earth and taking over people’s bodies. In this new version, he set the film in the bustling city of San Francisco, following Department of Health workers Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) and Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) who slowly discover this chilling conspiracy.
WHAT I LIKED
When I was in first grade, my father took me to the public library to see the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” I loved the movie with a passion but I didn’t sleep for a week. Shortly after that, this remake came out, and no matter how much I begged, he wouldn’t let me go see it. Many years later, I watched it on television, and again I couldn’t sleep for a week.
To this day, Kaufman’s remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is one of the best remakes ever done, right up there with John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” What makes the ’78 “Body Snatchers” work so well is how serious it takes the subject matter. We hadn’t yet gotten to the cheesy tongue-in-cheek horror of the 80s, and the 70s mentality of thrillers played into this version of the film.
The genius of the ’78 film is that we don’t see the invasion happen on the forefront. While we are there at the beginning, it grows slowly around us… like a weed. In the beginning, we half-think that the characters themselves just might be insane. By the time things are bad enough for anyone to believe the invasion is happening, it’s too late.
Watching this film more than thirty years after it was made still works, and the chilling nature holds up. Instead of being a story of “it could happen,” it becomes “what if it did happen?” Improving upon the original film as well as Jack Finney’s original book, this remake has one of the most brilliant and terrifying endings ever committed to film. Even today, I can’t start this movie without watching every single frame of it… and still have some trouble sleeping.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Nothing. It is as perfect a thriller as it can be.
The newly released Blu-ray comes with several featurettes: “Re-Visitors from Outer Space, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod,” “Practical Magic: The Special Effects Pod,” “The Man Behind the Scream: The Sound Effects Pod” and “The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod.” It also has the original 1978 theatrical trailer.
The package also comes with the original DVD which has a commentary by Philip Kaufman.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of science fiction who don’t mind a slow burn thriller and a modicum of insomnia.