Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Usually, I’m not much of a fan of remakes/reboots or reimaginings. They always come across as a desperate effort to continue milking the cash cow of the original movie’s brand. A significant reason for this observation is many fans elevate the cast, story details as iconic, venerated and inalterable. The problem arises when the story explores aspects of the human condition that is inherently alterable. In cases such as this, it falls to each generation to relate the story through the filter of their experiences and sensibilities. Remakes of many movies predominately are produced for financial reasons but an example of a film which remained closer to the above-stated hypothesis, ‘The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.' I grew up enthralled with the 1956 original featuring Keven McCarthy, Dana Wynter, and King Donovan, directed by Don Siegel. It was a near perfect allegory for the dominant physiological state of the American public. The fear of Communism fed by the nuclear arms race and the persistent terror of Soviet agents living in deep cover posing as American; pretending to be an actual American citizen. Then, the space program had shifted into high gear, fanning the flames of a propaganda drive race to outer space. In 1978 the torch was taken up by Philip Kaufman this time with Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Jeff Goldblum assuming the top billing. From the very first scene, this variation demonstrates a greater proclivity to approach the fundamental tenants of the story as science fiction. For a most diehard fan, including myself, the intrinsic appeal of the film was how well it epitomized the zeitgeist of the western world. Having grown up with the original, I understandably had considerable trepidation the first time I had an opportunity to watch it. Now that a fully remastered high-definition edition was released it was time to revisit.

The basis for horror was that the pods that took over the bodies of their victim eradicating every vestige of emotions came from outer space. It was a reasonable premise and did help to superficially separate the origins of the terror from it allegorical source, the U.S.S.R. this film makes confident that we understand the true origins of the invaders.The story opens with the audience shown a planet in the throes of dying. The inhabitants, gelatinous creatures capable of shrouding themselves for the deep space Diasporas. They make the long journey eventually landing near San Francisco. The first phase of the invasion requires them assimilating terrestrial flora. The resulting pods spout rather attractive pink flowers that people begin to bring home. One person appropriating the specimen was Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams), an employee of the San Francisco Department of Health. The next morning her boyfriend, Elizabeth's boyfriend, Geoffrey Howell (Art Hindle), awakens exhibiting very subtle, changes. Usually, he is considerably outgoing and amiable, but he is now especially distant, devoid of and emotional responses.

Replacing the small-town physician as the human being who first realizes something is drastically wrong is a City Heal Inspector, Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland), who depicted at work as a sharply deductive man concerned with the most minute differences. Among the restaurant owners in his jurisdiction, Matt’s reputation is as someone known ti be tough but fair. This scene efficiently established during one inspection where the owner tries to convince Matt that a rat turd he found was a piece of seasoning until the owner declined to eat it. He is Elizabeth’s friend and co-worker. Early on they each come across people that look exactly like what they should and possess the real memories but are entirely devoid of emotional expression. A seemingly mentally disturb man accosted Matt. shouting something about "they’re already here, you’re next." In a touch of clever stunt casting the madman is none other than Kevon McCarthy reprising the same scene from the end of the original classic film. It is almost always a bonus point or two when the filmmaker has sufficient respect for the original to not just reference it but to arrange for a cameo from the original cast. This incidental character simultaneously sets up the looming terror, achieving with a nod to the beloved status of the original. Continuing with establishing the central premise the man is later seen dead with people looking at his body as unemotional as mannequins. Evidence grows as a woman insists her husband is not her husband. Others dismiss the incident as the man trying to get out of the relationship.

Jack Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum), a friend of Matthew, contacts him. He is a burgeoning writer who owns a bathhouse with his wife, Nancy (Veronica Cartwright). They discovered a body, but there was something extremely odd and disturbing about it. It was obviously human, but it seemed to be incomplete, lacking distinct features such as lines, creases, and fully differentiated features. Making the situation more peculiar is that this thing bears an undeniable similarity to Jack, enough so to make Nancy and Jack visibly upset. Several documented psychiatric disorders present with patients become convinced that their loved ones were replaced, so this version of the story recognizes this fact by introducing a psychiatrist as a prominent character. Dr. David Kibner (Leonard Nimoy). Integral to reformatting the story, elements were the necessity to alter several crucial plot points. Changing the emphasis from a socio-political allegory to a science fiction/horror movie necessitated changes to some key plot points. Including the opinion of a mental health professional had the tendency to anchor the frightening elements of the narrative. By permitting the fundamental themes to become independent of the widespread political fears that gripped the country the allowed an entirely new consideration of the situations. While the Anti-Communist message does not preclude the unsettling sense of alarm in any alternate time or place, the concentration on a ‘purely Sci-Fi’ methodology does liberate the premise making it ubiquitously frightening on a deeply ingrained assault on the most primitive responses programmed into our minds. The ultimate proof that this approach was successful is found in the final, terrifying shot of the film. It strikes such a primitive chord in the core of the response to a stimulus that the closing image is seen in the movie that that single, powerful image is one that remains in your mind long after the closing credits end. It is not often that an image can scare the audience on both a visceral and psychological level so effectively that it is still cited as the epitome of horror almost forty years later.

Once again Shout Factor delivers with a technically superior edition that not only provides fans with the very best video and audio possible but they have assembled a selection of additional content that will expand your understanding the process of creating the film resulting in a significate enhancement of your continued enjoyment.

bulletNew 2k Scan from the Interpositive
bulletAudio Commentary with director Phillip Kaufman
bulletNEW: Interviews with Phillip Kaufman, Actors Brooke Adams and Art Hindle, Writer W.D Richter And Composer Denny Zeitin
bulletPractical Magic: The Special Effects
bulletThe Man behind the scream: Sound effects

Posted 10/25/2016

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