55 Years of Body Snatching

The original version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was released 55 years ago today in 1956. It’s a B-quality movie that’s creepy and fun. Fall asleep and your body is cloned in a big slimy alien pod outside your bedroom window or down in the basement. Then you’re dead and replaced by a clone with no emotion. “Come on and join us.” No, run!

I saw “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” about 20 years ago on VHS and thought it was boring, but my childish adult sensibilities have allowed me to appreciate it now as a story about non-conformity. (Originally it was supposed to scare Americans into not becoming Communists, but The Tea Party is taking care of that these days.)

I almost fell asleep watching the 1978 version of “Body Snatchers” starring Donald Sutherland. Compared to the original, it’s boring. It doesn’t develop the story as well, and the ending is silly. It could have worked as a movie that’s so bad it’s good, but it doesn’t.

The 2007 version (“The Invasion”), however, is so bad that it’s good. It stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and it’s the same story: don’t fall asleep or you’re a goner. I had a lot of fun watching it. It’s one scene after another of Nicole Kidman and her son running all over the place trying to blend in with all the other clones while doing everything they can not to become one. And it has a much better ending than the lame ’70s version.

UPDATE (Feb. 14/11): I didn’t know about the 1993 remake. Now I do.

  The 1993 version, Body Snatchers, is hugely hit-and-miss, but overall it’s a miss because the elements that don’t work are so bad that all suspension of disbelief is killed on the spot. The main character who looks like she’s 13 years old — in a nude scene. That kills it. Other poor casting choices, along with a few pitifully written melodramatic scenes, make it seem like 90210 Presents: Body Snatchers! What works, though, is everyone else turning into Pod People. The affect is unsettling and creepy as hell. Watching that element of the story done right — are people really who they seem to be? — it’s easy to see the dramatic potential of the original story and how this version almost made it. But then blew it.

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

2 Replies to “55 Years of Body Snatching”

  1. Hey, Abel Ferrara (directed the original “Bad Lieutenant”) did a version called “Body Snatchers” sometime in the 90s I think – haven’t seen it although I’ve wanted to. Any review?

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