INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Beware the Pod People!
Starring: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynbter,
Larry Gates, King Donovan,
Caroline Jones, Jean Willes,
Bobby Clark, Whit Bissel,
Audience: Older children to adults
Rating: Code Approved
Runtime: 80 minutes
Distributor: Allied Artists Pictures
Director: Don Siegel
Executive Producer: Walter Mirisch
Producer: Walter Wanger
Writer: Daniel Mainwaring
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Based on Jack Finney’s classic novel of the same name, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS stars Kevin McCarthy as Miles, a young doctor in a small California town who finds some of the people in the town acting weirdly unemotional. The story starts with a little boy who suddenly says his mother is not really his mother, but a monster. Just as suddenly, however, the little boy says nothing’s wrong.
Eventually, Miles and his girlfriend, Becky, discover that the people in the town are being replaced by alien “pod people,” who replace the townspeople’s souls and bodies while they sleep. The question becomes: Can Miles and Becky stay awake long enough to escape the evil pod people and warn the rest of the country?
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is one of the most chilling, spellbinding science fiction movies ever made. The climax near the end is one of the most devastating scenes in movie history.
The studio made Siegel tack on a prologue and a happy ending to lighten the relentless terror in the story. Though Siegel was opposed, MOVIEGUIDE® thinks the new ending provides a needed catharsis for viewers. Also, the ending Siegel wanted seems a little hokey.
Many have debated the meaning behind INVASION OF THE BODY SNACTHERS. Some say the alien pod people are supposed to represent the “red baiters” who stopped communists from taking over the USA in the 1950s. However, a more likely scenario is that the alien pod people are more like the “intellectual” leftist communists and totalitarians that brainwash people and deprive them of their individuality. Thus, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS can be viewed as anti-communist.
To Director Don Siegel, however, the movie has a personal and psychological meaning, not a political one. “I felt that this was a very important story,” he said in an interview (Interview with Don Siegel in Alan Lovell: Don Siegel. American Cinema, London 1975). “I think that the world is populated by pods, and I wanted to show them. I think so many people have no feeling about cultural things, no feeling of pain, of sorrow.” Thus, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS can also be viewed on a more personal, psychological, theological, and universal level. For example, it can be seen as a warning about losing one’s emotions, individuality, compassion, and moral conscience to an arid, cold, empty, pitiless, robotic, and pseudo-intellectual conformity and despotism.
Siegel’s more personal interpretation became a theme in many of his other movies. For example, in DIRTY HARRY, Clint Eastwood’s iconic policeman, Harry Callahan, is a man who has withdrawn emotionally from the world (Don Siegel’s archetypal pod person) after his wife was killed by a drunk driver who “crossed the yellow line.” When Harry encounters a mad killer based on the “Zodiac Killer” in San Francisco (portrayed brilliantly by Andy Robinson from television’s STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE), Harry regains his emotional equilibrium and humanity, but he crosses the line in the final famous scene. In that scene, Harry deliberately and emotionally goads the mad killer so that he can justifiably kill him and make sure the killer can’t hurt another human being ever again. The last shot of DIRTY HARRY shows Harry throwing away his badge because he realizes that even he has crossed a yellow line from which he can never return.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is a must-see movie for fans of science fiction movies and fans of more tasteful and more intelligent movies in the horror genre. It’s a brilliant piece of cinema for mature audiences with great historical, political, psychological, moral, and spiritual significance. Best of all, it’s a darn good story! What more could you possible want?
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is one of the most chilling, spellbinding science fiction movies ever made. The climax near the end is one of the most devastating scenes in movie history. The best film scholars believe that the movie is an anti-communist allegory from the 1950s. However, the story can also be viewed on a more personal, psychological, theological, and universal level. Thus, it can be seen as a warning about losing one’s emotions, individuality, compassion, and moral conscience to a cold, empty, pitiless, robotic, and pseudo-intellectual conformity. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is a brilliant movie.