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2 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
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by Jay Seaver

"A solid B-plus movie"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 BOSTON SCIENCE-FICTION FILM FESTIVAL: Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a good little film that, by being among the first to tap into a certain basic idea, became regarded as a classic. Some will say that it's an allegory for the fear of communism in the fifties, and maybe there's a little something to that. When watched in a crowded theater at midnight, however, it is still an inexpensive B-movie.

That basic idea, of course, is ones friends and neighbors being replaced by alien doppelgangers, alike in every way except for a lack of emotion. I find myself wondering what these duplicates would do if they succeeded in converting the entire world, as they apparently plan to. Are they programmed for a greater purpose? Would they cycle through endless identical days in an imitation of human life? Would they take their true forms, once they had the planet to themselves? We'll never know; the movie ends well before that can happen.

The story is one we all know, even if we don't know names or specific details. A local doctor (Kevin McCarthy) has a few patients tell him that someone close to them isn't who they appear to be. He scoffs, at first, but it's an odd thing for that many people to start saying all at once, and investigating lets him spend a little time with a recently-returned girl he knew when he was younger (Dana Wynter). Soon, they find an oddly featureless body, and the plant-like pod from which it grew, but by the time they're ready to act, there's more than a few "pod people" running around.

I'm not sure if people were calling this a metaphor for 1950s paranoia when it came out, because that seems to be giving it a little too much credit. The script, after all, is filled with stilted dialog and far-fetched coincidences and plot holes - why should we assume that the writer could be so smart metaphor-wise but so stupid sounding-like-something-people-would-actually-say-wise? Well, okay, maybe "stupid" is a bit harsh, but there's something very stagy and "not what I would do" about a lot of the movie.

It's still a good deal of fun, though. Director Don Siegel knows what he's doing and makes the lack of any sort of effects budget work for him - that we don't see much that's really otherworldly makes the invasion even more insidious. The quietly synchronized motions of the converted town is good and eerie, while the escape often feels hopeless (although that's in large part because it's the fifties and, well, a girl, she just can't hope to keep up with a man!). While a certain amount of time is spent patiently explaining what's going on, at least the pod people seem like they would actually do this.

The print shown at the festival was the SuperScope version with the prologue and epilogue involving the mental hospital and FBI agent. It's one of those studio-mandated changes, and kind of goofy. I'm not sure a gigantic coincidence makes things less dark; isn't "wow, we'd be screwed if not for that mammoth stroke of luck!" just as scary as "we're screwed"? It cheapens the movie a little, but not that much.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers has all the basic ingredients for B-movie goodness: A confident hero, a pretty girl, and a dangerous but inexpensive villain. At eighty minutes, there's no fat on it, so it's over before it starts to seem really silly.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2927&reviewer=371
originally posted: 03/15/05 22:17:38
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2016 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2016 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/29/16 morris campbell creepy sci-fi classic see it 4 stars
4/15/08 art THE 1978 REMAKE WAS BETTER 1 stars
2/23/07 action movie fan one of the better '50,s sci/fi thrillers,intelligent and well made 4 stars
11/10/06 David Pollastrini scary! 5 stars
10/08/06 John Stewart A creepy old movie for a cold October night 5 stars
7/11/06 David Cohen gets my vote for the best paranoia movie ever made 5 stars
4/12/06 antony george coolio 5 stars
6/08/05 David Fowler Incredible! McCarthy is brilliant, as is the Amphitheatrof score. A work of genius. 5 stars
4/11/05 Carolyn Rathburn What can you say about these old classics, I like the less gore. 4 stars
1/24/05 randy an all-time favorite--not a boring moment in it 5 stars
5/19/04 Jack Bourbon McCarthy is super duper as a guy freaking out 5 stars
3/29/04 Whadisay? As a paranoia flick it has never been equalled 5 stars
3/28/04 true review - correct review everytime still best snatcher movie, a classic 4 stars
11/06/03 Samuel A Great Film! 5 stars
3/21/03 Jack Sommersby Not great, but it's taut and well-paced. 4 stars
2/06/03 Charles Tatum Good enough 4 stars
12/01/01 R.W. Welch Jus 'cause you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you. Weak plot, great execution. 4 stars
11/29/01 Andrew Carden Very Overrated, At Points I Found Myself Very Bored. 3 stars
10/11/00 Dr. Miles It can be interpreted many ways (not just McCarthyism), yet still a cool atmospheric tale 5 stars
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  05-Feb-1956 (NR)



Directed by
  Don Siegel

Written by
  Daniel Mainwaring

  Kevin McCarthy
  Dana Wynter
  Larry Gates
  King Donovan

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