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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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Posted 26th April 2009 at 09:18 AM by Sam@Cult Labs

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1958

The Nightmare That Threatens The World!

Don Siegal's classic slice of Cold War paranoia continues to send chills down the spine after over 50 years and several remakes.

Body Snatchers is set in the world of perfect 1950s small town Americana, A Norman Rockwell Idyll of conservative values and well behaved, perfectly manicured wives, where, seemingly from nowhere, mysterious vegetable pods are appearing. These pods grow perfect reproductions of the people they come into contact with, destroying their human hosts and replacing them with emotionless drones who are part of a hive mind. These pod people match their hosts exactly but are not capable of love, empathy or any of the other, sometimes fiery emotions, that make us who we are as a species.

These weird seeds drift through the universe until they come across a world in which they can germinate, replicating the life forms and slowly wiping them out...


An obvious allegory for the USA's fear of communist infiltration in the post-war period, the movie still works as a piece of tense sci-fi, With the lead character desperately fighting sleep in order to avoid being replaced. The final shock sequence at the end is a chilling and bleak as anything in cinema from the 50s and will stay in your memory for a long time.

I saw this as a child and it remains one of my favourite movies, which I revisit every couple of years. Each time I get something new from it, it's really that good. The characters are well played by all the cast, which makes their transformation into morose, personality free vege-people all the more chilling. The film relies on dramatic tension rather than special effects, pods aside, which has allowed the movie with date with a little more dignity than it's contemporaries, making it a fear drenched exercise in alien terror even by today's standards.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978

Donald Sutherland stars in this superior update of the ultimate 50s slice of sci-fi paranoia. Most remakes tend to be pretty loathsome, but this reinterpretation isn't a redundant exercise in Studio money grabbing. It updates the originals anti-communist subtext for the late 70s me generation and in certain ways it's arguably a better film than the original with stronger, more nuanced performances and a terrifying shock finale. Overall, it can't match the first films groundbreaking thrills, but it holds it's own against it's illustrious predecessor.

The film follows the same plot about alien pods, which replicate those they come into contact with. The clones then kill the original people, who are replaced with emotionless automatons. As the investigation grows we are treated to scary scenes of still human characters trying to show no emotion for fear of being discovered and the film piles up layer upon layer of delicious parnoia, until no one knows whose human and who isn't. By the time the devastating conclusion turns your heart to ice, you'll be turning to your friends too see if their eyes are registering a flicker of humanity...

Donald Sutherland is on top form and Leonard Nimoy pops up for a campy cameo as a self help guru, a very 70s occupation that fits neatly into the theme of self obsession and inward naval gazing that characterized a decade recovering from the fall out of the late 60s counter culture. Recommended.
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