Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter and Larry Gates
Invasion of the Body Snatchers follows the residents of a small town who are being replaced with emotionless alien duplicates. This film has more on its mind than typical B-Movie schlock. In fact I’m hesitant to refer to IOTBS as a B-Movie at all. The film is subtle and uses slowly built tension instead of special effects or monsters to elicit scares. We are never given a money shot of the creature or aliens. We are the monsters, our friends, neighbors and family members are the creatures we should fear in this world.
I first became aware of Invasion of the Body Sntachers when I was around 12 or 13 years old. My family had a copy of Gremlins on VHS and I watched it at least two or three times a week. Around my 50th viewing of the film I started focusing on the clip form IOTBS it uses. For some reason that little scene captured my imagination, I needed to find out what was going on in that weird old movie with the guy yelling. I waited for the credits to find out what film it was and went to the Blockbuster within a few days. Having recognized Kevin McCarthy from UHF I thought I was in for something light hearted and silly, as you are fully aware I was way off in my early estimation of Body Snatchers.
Based on a three part serialized story written by Jack Finney, IOTBS is an incredibly well paced film that everyone should see at least once. Shot on beautiful black and white in "Superscope" widescreen the film is simply gorgeous. I often see it compared to The Blob or the William Castle films of the same era but IOTBS is far better than similar films of its time. Every ten years or so somebody decides it’s time to remake it and while those remakes come and go the original remains. Film makers are constantly paying homage to it because the film is pretty much timeless. To call it influential is an understatement, IOTBS has influenced generations of film makers working in all genres.
The themes addressed in IOTBS are an important part of what continues to make the film relevant. If you interpret the film to be about the Soviet threat it would play as true today as it did 50 years ago, if you interpret the film to be about McCarthyism look at what’s happened to Edward Snowden or Julian Assange, these themes are sadly timeless and perhaps more important now than ever.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is currently streaming on Netflix