With another remake on the way, we get reminded of the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and what an iconic, fifties science-fiction film it is and how it has withstood the test of time. Now we take a look back at it and the other remakes of this timeless, effectively scary science fiction story.
Another newer version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is coming to a screen near you, courtesy of producer John Davis and Warner Bros. David Leslie Johnson (Dungeons And Dragons, The Conjuring 2) is penning another remake of the classic film, and I agree the time is ripe for a remake of the classic movie.
Daniel Mainwaring adapted the screenplay from Jack Finney’s 1954 science fiction novel The Body Snatchers. Of all the versions of this film that have gotten made, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers – 1956 and 1978, Body Snatchers – 1993, and Invasion – 2007, I still consider the 1956 edition to be the best; this film is easily the most memorable version. It does not rely on CGI or any fancy, practical effects to accomplish what it does. It creates a noir style world of fear, dread, and paranoia that has the main protagonist questioning his sanity and senses. The black and white film uses the classic tools available to early movie directors – a dramatic manipulation of light and shadow to accomplish its goals.
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a terrifically entertaining movie that just happened to tap into the cold war paranoia of the time because the film’s narrative seemed to get written about that socially relevant topic at the time of its release.
McCarthy is excellent in the role of Bennell. His portrayal of increasing paranoia and hysteria is just intentionally over the top enough to make it memorable and close to perfect for what the film is trying to accomplish. The rest of the cast is made up of some fifties greats and notables including; Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, and even future director Sam Peckinpah in a minor role. Much has gotten made of the film as an allegory for the fear and paranoia of the period’s McCarthyism and its obsession with a communist takeover of America, with the emotionless aliens representing the communists; this is purely coincidental and not the intention of the film’s creators.
The next film version of the story is from 1978 and directed by Philip Kaufman, and starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy. Released on December 22, 1978, it is historically interesting because of its cast (Nimoy unsuccessfully trying to break his Spock typecasting) I found this version to be less memorable and it did not succeed in the way the original did in conjuring paranoia and fear.
This version received varied reviews from critics, oddly enough though, it has been named by some as being one of the most excellent film remakes ever made.
Again this version did not do much for me; it seemed like a much more dumbed down version of the same story by film creators who it seems assumed at the time that their audience was pretty stupid and slow-witted. The United Artists movie became a political statement about cult leaders and conspiracy theorists in the time when 900 people died at Jonestown. It has those kinds of undertones.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers was selected in 1994 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its “Ten top Ten” — the best ten films in ten “classic” American film genres — after polling more than 1,500 people from the creative community. Invasion of the Body Snatchers got recognized as the ninth best film in the science fiction genre. A true classic.