Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Watch "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956) to find out what not to plant in your garden!  Based upon the science fiction novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, it is the story of a small California town invaded by space seeds that have drifted to Earth.  In the movie, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returns from a medical convention to his home town of Santa Mira, California, to deal with a sudden influx of patients with a strange complaint.  All seem to feel that a relative has been replaced by an impostor, someone who looks and seemingly acts like the original but is somehow not the same.  The doctor's old flame, Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter), who has recently returned to her old home town, mentions that her cousin is making the same claim about her father.  Oddly, the next day several of these people suddenly recant, despite their utter conviction on the previous day.  At first Dr. Bennell believes the town psychiatrist, who feels that some form of mass hysteria is afflicting the townspeople.  Then he receives a call from two friends, Jack and Teddy Belicec (King Donovan and Carolyn Jones), who claim to have found a disturbingly featureless body in their house which seems to be taking on the appearance of Jack.  Eventually, the four friends suspect that something terribly sinister is happening.  They conclude that these unusual bodies are developing from strange pods growing all over town, and that these bodies are replacing the originals while they sleep with beings who are the same in every way except for a lack of emotions.  Trying to phone for help, Miles is told that the phone lines are out of order, and he begins to realize the true extent of the situation.  The Pod People are taking over the town, and will stop anyone who interferes.  The couples decide to split up so that they will have a better chance at escaping and warning the outside world.  Although Miles manages to escape and gives his warning, the movie ends ambiguously, never revealing if the disaster is averted or if the Pod People succeed with their dastardly scheme.

This movie is considered one of the best science fiction movies of all time, and was selected in 1993 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.  Several remakes have followed, but in my opinion the original version far outshines all of the others.  It is simple but effective, and should definitely be seen by anyone with an interest in the science fiction genre.

Interesting Fact:  A prologue and epilogue were added to this movie after filming was complete, because the studio did not care for the more pessimistic ending of the initial version.  Also, actress Carolyn Jones, who plays Teddy Belicec, went on to star as Morticia Addams in the television series "The Addams Family".

Gore Guide (0=none to 5=extreme): 0

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