Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Release date: February 5, 1956

Director: Don Siegel

Cast: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones and Jean Willes

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an interesting, intelligently scripted film, especially for a 1950s horror movie. Thought, the melodramatic score, heavy-handed direction and overly dramatic acting make it more of a comedy than it was supposed to be.

The plot centers around Dr. Binnell arriving to town after a vacation and encountering many people claiming that their family memebers are no longer themselves. Later in the movie, these same people recant. Eventually, Binnell comes to believe that the people are being controlled by aliens and that they are after him too.

This film asks the questions: What if the people closest to you were suddenly turned different? What if they had a secret and evil plan? What if they wanted you to join with them, even if it is against your will? While the plot has these people's bodies possessed by alien pods from outer space, the screenplay might have been a disguised jab at cold war paranoia in the U.S., and the belief that communists were around every corner and out to subvert the country. Since screenwriters as well as actors were blacklisted and lived in fear of losing their jobs during the cold war, any protest that a screenwriter made would have to be between the lines and not too obvious.

The "pod people" in the movie don't act like the controlled zombies you would expect them to be, except when you see them in the group scenes. Taken one at a time, they just seem to be bad tempered. Often they act more human than alien/zombie. More consistency for "pod people" behavior would have been an improvement, as well as greater contrast in personalities between those converted and those still alive.

Binnell, who has somehow remained single all these years, meets old flame Becky Driscoll, also single. They are a couple for the rest of the movie. This begs the questions: Why does a sci-fi flick have to have a love interest subplot? Why can't Binnell and Becky be cast as already married rather than just reunited long lost lovers? Is a relationship only considered interesting if it is brand new?

The final shots of McCarthy running down the main highway futilely trying to warn the drivers speeding past him was a stunning piece of moviemaking that reaches a fevered pitch of near hysteria. "They're here already! You're next" he yells, while cars whizz by, ignoring him as if he were nothing but a hopeless nut-case.

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