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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 33.33%
Average: 2.38%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.76%

2 reviews, 30 user ratings

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
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by Jay Seaver

"Maybe not the best, but impossible to forget."
4 stars

I cannot (yet) speak for the 1993 Abel Ferrara version of the story, but there's an argument to be made that this is the best film version. It's not an argument you can win 100% of the time - oddly, one of the things running through my head after I recently saw a late-night screening of this version was how much I appreciated the 1956 edition - but I think this is easily the most memorable film based on the premise.

The basic premise is the same as it was twenty years earlier - spores from an alien world arrive on earth, growing into plants that duplicate people, down to every last detail and memory. Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) is one of the first to see something amiss; her boyfriend Geoffrey (Art Hindle) is becoming emotionally distant. She confides in her friend and co-worker Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland), who discusses it with friends Jason and Nancy Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright), as well as popular psychologist and author Dr. David Kibner (Leonard Nimoy). Instead of being in isolated small-town America, though, this group of people is in San Francisco.

Though this version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was made post-Star Wars, writer W.D. Richter and director Philip Kaufman still give it something of the vibe of the "New Hollywood" seventies. The attraction between Matthew and Elizabeth is genuine and a little messy; the scenes where they confront Geoffrey would be interesting from an acting standpoint even without pod people thrown into the mix. There's a sense that the cast has been given room to act, investing their characters with more than what we've been given as exposition and what their function in the story is.

Indeed, part of what's interesting about this movie is that there's not really an expert or person of authority to be found. Sure, Bennell is a health inspector and Driscoll a lab tech, but it's not like they're the scientists, sheriffs, or military men that would traditionally populate this sort of movie; Kibner, the closest thing the film has to a voice of authority, spends most of the film suggesting that there's nothing to be concerned about. It's an unusual sci-fi movie in that it's not particularly concerned with problem-solving, but watching relatively ordinary people react to an apocalyptic situation.

It's an understated apocalypse, but still a striking one. Kaufman never really hides his alien plants, and never does a flashy display, and yet every time we see one with a partially-formed duplicate, they're more unnerving. The "creature" effects are just active enough to convince us they're a threat without making the plants particularly mobile, and the latter parts of the movie, where the pods have replaced enough people that they actually have a sort of infrastructure, is more chilling than it might seem out of context: We look at it and see that somehow, outside of our protagonists' view, the situation has gotten too big for them to handle, and seeing the scale of the threat is far scarier than creature effects, no matter how grotesque they were.

And, of course, there's the indelible last scene, although it's not nearly so effective the last time around; if you've seen the film before, you can see where Kaufman and Richter are setting you up. That's fine; re-watchability isn't everything, and there's something to be said for doing something so well that it imprints itself in the audience's memory that first time.

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originally posted: 02/25/09 10:35:21
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

5/11/18 FireWithFire WHY SF is the shit hole that it is now....and where the Leftists responsible came from 1 stars
10/30/16 morris campbell solid remake disturbing ending 4 stars
3/22/09 james obrien just seen it again holds up well 4 stars
3/08/09 Linda Diaz This remake is the best, loved the ending! 5 stars
2/26/09 BillGuitar I have never, EVER forgotten this one. Who was in the original? That screeeeech!!!! 5 stars
1/15/09 R.W. Welch Still prefer the original, tho not by much. 4 stars
10/25/08 action movie fan a good remake equal in some ways to the 1956 film 4 stars
4/16/08 art THIS 1978 VERISON IS THE BEST 4 stars
2/14/07 Double M Creepy, disturbing and paranoid with a *beep* haunting ending. great scary fun... 5 stars
1/11/07 Michael Cox Fantastic, and yes it is the definitive version 5 stars
10/19/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
7/12/06 David Cohen Compares favorably to the original 5 stars
9/03/05 ES Gotta love Paranoia, this was a great movie and holds up well under today's microscope 5 stars
6/17/05 Jeff Anderson The ONLY worthwhile remake to date! Excellent direction, acting, music & special effects. 5 stars
12/03/04 Chris Wright A must-see for conspiracy-buffs and SF-fans. 5 stars
5/10/04 John holds up so well! scary and makes the concept belivable 5 stars
4/17/04 ALBERT H. TAYLOR JR. It was better than the original. 5 stars
4/14/04 slayathon Pod People Who Knew This Could Be So Fun? 4 stars
3/30/04 Whadisay? A rare creature: A remake that measures up to the original 4 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby An unnerving near-masterpiece of horror. Superb performances and technicals. 5 stars
3/02/03 V. Salvatore Discard nostalgia...this is better than the original 5 stars
10/20/02 John McKain Would rather have an alien stick his head up my ass then watch this movie again 1 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum C'mon, Kaufman, do some more horror! 5 stars
9/02/02 y2mckay need to see it again before I can give a coherent review, but it's better than the original 4 stars
1/27/02 Andrew Carden Better Then The Original. Great Acting, Great Screenplay. 5 stars
11/06/01 Destruction Worker Picking flowers is deadly! 5 stars
9/29/01 Palaboy THEY GET YOU WHEN YOU SLEEP!!! 5 stars
2/15/01 viking A remake that improves on the original 5 stars
10/12/00 Matt Bennell Maybe not as good as the 1956 version, but they re-made it perfectly. Scary ending 5 stars
5/30/00 Rod This is a film I will always remember. This is truely a well done timeless classic sci-fi 5 stars
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  02-Nov-1978 (PG)



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