I stumbled upon this 1956 classic while channel surfing the other day and out of curiosity (I knew that there was a Body Snatchers movie in 1993), I stuck with it. Lo and behold, I found out before I did this entry that there was even another release in 1978 with Donald Sutherland and Jeff Goldblum. So this classic actually is the first of a trilogy, right?
Invasion of the Body Snatchers revolves around a small town in America wherein residents begin to panic as their loved ones start acting strangely. Dr. Miles Bennel (Kevin McCarthy), the town doctor, was at first doubtful of the claims that impostors were taking over the lives of the townsfolk but as more and more people suffer from hysteria, he notices hints of truth in his patient’s claims. Together with his best friend and girlfriend Becky Driscol (Dana Wynter), he discovers that the actual townsfolk are being replaced by emotionless clones who grow from giant pea pods produced by a farm near their community. The creatures also have the ability to absorb emotions and memories once their target falls asleep.
I must say that I was quite entertained with the original version of the Body Snatchers even though it was presented in black and white and was filled with a lot of obvious dialogue and cliches that during the time it was released, must have been quite original. The voice over of Dr. Miles’s thoughts as he worked through the mystery was a bit too cheesy for my tastes but it did not really hamper the overall effectiveness of the movie.
I liked the classic special effects and the ominous orchestra music used when the aliens were chasing them down and and the Twilight Zone-esque feel to the movie when it seemed the escape was impossible for the lead actors. I actually appreciate the classic for scenes that involve mobs because they really go all out with all of the shouting and running. There is no doubt that one is being chased by a mob.
All in all, Body Snatchers, the Classic edition did a pretty great job of making a good movie. It had a sound story, an effective lead character (trivia: Kevin McCarthy is still acting and will appear this year as the Grand Inquisitor in the comedy musical The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, according to his IMDB page), and great pacing and musical score. I think this classic even outclasses the half as*ed efforts of some directors out there who churn out movies for a quick buck (I’m looking at you Hit and Run — worst movie ever! I still get nightmares from its sheer idiocy) without even considering the quality of the movie. Now its time to hunt for that 1978 version…