Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

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8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Nicely shot, interesting story with a historical feel

Communist/McCarthyism debated, monotone narration style, safe ending

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Studio:  Allied Artists Pictures Corporation

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  February 5, 1956

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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Pod people are messy…

Something strange is going on in the town of Santa Mira, California.  Doctor Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) has been called home when people start reporting that the people they’ve known all their lives aren’t really who they say they are.  As Bennell and his former girlfriend Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter) begin to realize that people might not be crazy, it might already be too late.  They could be the next victim of strange large pods that seem to be able to clone people as they sleep.

Directed by Don Siegel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers adapts the 1954 novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney.  The sci-fi film was well received and is considered a classic.  The movie was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

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Will you still love me when I’m a pod person?

I grew up with the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers and saw the original later.  I don’t know if that tainted my view of it, but I do enjoy the 1978 version better.  Still, the movie is strong and an interesting encapsulation of the time in which it was made.

The format of the movie is a bit strange.  It is told as a flashback by Doctor Miles (so you know he makes it out ok…something I always question since it takes a bit of the suspense away).  This leads to a lot of monotone voiceover narration that is common in sci-fi films from the period.  The movie also takes a way a planned darker ending and gives hope that the aliens can be defeated…I kind of preferred the dark ending.

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Seriously guys, I’m tired, my girlfriend turned into a pod person….will someone listen to me?

McCarthy is great when he gets paranoid.  His rant at the end of “they’re coming for you…you’re next!” is a classic.  It is shot perfectly and intentionally gives the impression that he’s talking to the audience (he also gets to do it again in the 1978 version).  Dana Wynter isn’t a bad supporting actress though also pretty typical of ’50s sci-fi, but the shot of her emotionless eyes when Bennell realizes she’s been turned is chilling.

I think what is interesting about Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the Cold War themes…which McCarthy and others have denied.  Regardless, the movie can be read as both the slow overtaking of Communism and the McCarthyism witch hunt for hidden Communists.  The screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring had faced blackballing, and many argue that even if it wasn’t intended, it made it into the script.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is probably one of those “must see” films just because it was very influential.  As I mentioned, I enjoy the 1978 version the best, but also the movie was remade in 1993 as Body Snatchers and in 2007 as The Invasion.  Just remember when the invasion happens, “You’re next!”

Related Links:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Body Snatchers (1993)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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