Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a true cult "classic". It was made in 1956 and much like Night of the Living Dead, had a great idea but no money to back it up. Also like Night of the Living Dead, it wasn't expected to be the monstrous success that it was. With no real budget for special effects leading to a rather simplified movie (at least for it's genre) actually helped both of these films. Sometimes a great idea is so good that it doesn't really need any real reinforcement like special effects in order to be very effective. Anyway, the movie begins with Dr. Miles Bennell returning to his hometown after a vacation and coming across many patients complaining that someone they know is not really that person anymore, but some kind of impostor that only looks and sounds like the person they knew. Miles starts to rekindle an old flame with former sweetheart Becky Driscoll. They are drawn together again through many strange events. Her uncle Ira has been acting strangely and Becky herself feels that something is terribly wrong. Even though he looks and sounds like her uncle, he somehow now has a lack of emotion. Even stranger, after a few days, the panicky people complaining about impostors are now completely calm and are admitting to feeling silly at the thought of such nonsense. Well, they may seem to be better, but they are still acting strange. They start toting around weird giant seed pods and are also showing a lack of emotion. Miles and Becky team up with friends Jack and wife Teddy (Carolyn Jones-Morticia Addams) when jack calls Miles and complains about a dead body in his house. They rush right over and find a body that is completely devoid of character, has no fingerprints and is not breathing. Over a small amount of time, the body starts looking more and more like Jack, starts breathing and then disappears. All are stunned and mystified. They decide that it's better to stick together rather than run, as the whole town is quickly becoming impostors. Meanwhile four pods are out in the greenhouse just waiting for these people to fall asleep, as that seems to be when the transformation occurs. Miles, Becky, Jack and Teddy discover imitations of themselves forming from some kind of huge seed pod producing plant and naturally freak out. Jack and Teddy make a break for it while Miles and Becky are desperately trapped in his office with the whole town after them. They observe the towns people distributing seed pods to different trucks to be transported to different cities. Faking emotion, Miles and Becky fool everyone for a while but when Becky shows emotion towards a dog almost getting run over, they catch on and chase them out of town. Eventually Becky takes a nap and is "changed". Miles makes it to the highway, trying desperately to convince people about what's happening, hence the infamous line... "They're coming! They're here already! You're next!! You're next!!!". Of course no one wants to take him seriously because he's acting like a raging lunatic. Finally, at the police station he explains his story. Naturally they lock him up until it's reported to the station that a truck hauling abnormally huge seed pods has been in an accident. The story ends here, leading you to use your imagination as to whether the world gets overrun with alien plants from outer space or if the problem is caught in time before it takes over the world. Originally a book by Jack Finney simply called "The Body Snatchers", it was turned into film in 1956. A remake of the original movie was made in 1978 starring Donald Sutherland and Veronica Cartwright that was actually pretty good. It was much scarier and took place on a much larger scale. The original takes place in a small town called Santa Mira and the remake takes over all of San Francisco. Yet another remake was released in 2007 starring Nicole Kidman called The Invasion, which tried to be as subtle and creepy as the original and not go over the top as in the 1978 remake, but failed miserably at the box office. In this day and age, we like "in your face" movies that both shock and intrigue. Well, we already had both, so why make a third? It's a great story, but it's becoming a little overcooked. If you can't get your hands on the book (the very best version of the story) then stick with the original 1956 version. It's a true cult classic.

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