The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

A Review by Jason L. King

Starring: Kevin McCarthy, Dyna Winter
Directed by: Don Siegel
Rated: NR
Movie Released: 1956

The summer months have been whisked away and we are now heading into autumn with leaves turning colors and people’s doorsteps sporting jack-o-lanterns and skeletons. October is Halloween, month of the monsters, hence why many of the reviews you are seeing are horror films or monster movies. Throughout the month of October 2009, I will be focusing at least a solid portion of my reviews on various movie monsters each week. Week #2’s movie monster is Aliens.

Final Grade:

Sometimes you set out in the world to make a B movie that catches the world by storm and in its ridiculousness you find a gem of a movie hidden amongst it after all. For the makers of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, that is exactly what happened. It was during a time when some of Hollywood’s most famed directors and writers were at that perfect place and time that they were willing to work on a project just to collect a paycheck. That paycheck they were collecting became the drive in movie alien sensation, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The film is about a small town doctor who is trying to convince the FBI that the world is being taken over by body snatching aliens in a small town. As the aliens grow into their new bodies, they steal all of your memories and antic so they look, talk, act and remember everything just like you do. The only problem is, some people can see right through this alien abducting some one’s body but no one believes them. No one except for a small town doctor who soon finds out he might be next.

If I told you the film was nothing to write home about, I think that would sum it up nicely. The idea feels like a strange episode worthy of the Twilight Zone and the actors do their best to make it through the script convincingly enough but there just feels to be something missing. There is a level of quality it wants to achieve but just does not reach. The main character played by Kevin McCarthy tries his best to pull the fantastical script along but hams it up almost too much. Many times his performance reminded me as one of the crazed “drug dealers” from 1936’s Reefer Madness.

However, as for the film as a whole, there is a lot of debate over what the film is really about. Is the film really about body snatching aliens, or is it a social commentary on McCarthyism and the Red Scare that were also themes of the time period? While that is left up to the viewer, it was a film that pulled people into drive in theaters at the time. (please tell me you all know what a drive in theater was correct?).

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers spawned 2 remakes, one in the 70’s and another only a few years ago starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, perhaps proof the the film has made an impact on Hollywood and pop culture over the years. Should you make it one of your favorite films for a spooky Halloween movie night? I don’t think so. If you’ve got some time and want to enjoy some old B movie double feature type show, Invasion of the Body Snatchers might be for you. However, watching the movie I felt that while it is one of the better B list movies I have seen, it still isn’t going to appeal to the masses today. None the less, for what it is and what it was trying to be, the film does succeed. If I suggested it as a must watch, you’d question my sanity (many of you do any way)!

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