Like everything it seems that in the old days they did everything better and this even applies to remakes. De Palma’s Scarface, Carpenter’s The Thing, Cronenberg’s The Fly and Invasion of the Body Snatchers all made around the late 70’s to mid-80’s and all bold reimagining’s of the films that inspired them.
The story of director Philip Kaufman’s 78 remake is extremely similar to the 1956 original which is adapted from the earlier novel dealing as it does with the idea that people are being replaced by alien beings who look exactly like them but are devoid of human emotion.
Although set in San Francisco the movie opens far off in space where we see a strange amorphic creature floating away from its planet and into the stars headed straight for Earth.
Attaching itself to a plant and producing a strange pink flower this catches the eye of Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams from The Dead Zone) who works alongside health inspector Matthew Bennell (the brilliant Donald Sutherland) at the health department, who takes a sample back to her home.
Slowly Elizabeth starts to notice a dramatic change in her boyfriend’s personality and desperately tries to convince Matthew he has somehow been substituted for an imposter. Although dubious at first as the reports of people paranoid and positive their loved ones are not who they say they are Matthew begins to believe.
However as the pair start to comprehend the implications of this invasion they face disbelief from all sides including their own friends and law enforcement. Can they act before it’s too late or has the invasion of the body snatchers already been won.
Wonderfully shot by Kaufman, who made The Right Stuff and Rising Sun and worked with George Lucas in developing Indiana Jones, the film far exceeds the original artistically with its unnerving sound design, foreboding figures in the background and constant shots of the possessed populace watching the main characters.
There is no mistaking that this version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a horror with its body horror special effects set pieces and terrifying atmosphere there is also the creeping dread that permeates the picture so palpably which keeps up our unnerved engagement with the leads thrown into a world of conspiracies and madness.
The original faintly concealed the parallel between the pod people and the cultural fear of the impact of Communism rife in American during the period and here it seems the correlation can be made to the rise of psychoanalysis and its power in determining the human psyche and state.
While still skeptical Matthew takes Elizabeth to see his friend famed psychiatrist Dr. David Kibner played brilliantly by Leonard Nimoy. He writes the whole thing off as a delusion and his constant refusal even in the face of evidence suggests the films distrust of his head shrinking profession.
Terrifically tense from start to finish Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fantastic and truly frightening Sci-Fi horror and this amazing Arrow Blu-ray release packed full of extras is the perfect package for you to purchase.
One of the very few remakes that improves on the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers proves that sometimes, just sometimes the replacements are better than the originals.