Reviews of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and related work

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956Moving picture, 80 minutes)

Too narrowly anticommunist. The enemy’s total “lack of emotion”, while perhaps speaking to some kind of primal fear in the audience (Uncanny Valley and inability to really communicate?), makes no diegetic sense. Basic physics are also violated, the pods being too small and too light.

References here: Unearthly Stranger (1963), “The Imagination of Disaster” (1965), “The Mind’s Eye” (1991), Story of Science Fiction (2018).

moving picture fiction

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978Moving picture, 115 minutes)

Seen in 2016.

The most 1970s of all possible remakes. There are quite a few plot holes, centering on the implication that the pod people have some form of telepathic communication for arranging and executing their near-instant meetings all over town, while they also have an inhuman scream for signalling one another, and at the same time, they retain a full grasp on the human original’s language, and are somehow obligated to invent a system of code awkwardly adapting English to identify “type H” individuals over the radio.

The idea of the invaders’ lack of emotion is largely retained from the original but contradicted by their apparent outrage at the destruction of a half-formed copy, and by the psychologist character who clearly has a strong grasp on human emotion and continues to emote after being compromised, in a piece of satire aligned with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). The implication seems to be that the invaders do have an emotional life, as one would expect, but this is itself contradicted by the late scenes in the lab, where the titration equipment is still running as if the invaders were planning to sustain human material civilization for their new bodies, yet nobody’s working. They’re all just standing around. There is some appeal to this “mystery”—some potential for worldbuilding—but it’s all left as plot holes.

I love the special effects, the ragged cuts and Dutch angles, the deep pessimism and of course, the young Jeff Goldblum playing a selfish asshole.

References here: Story of Science Fiction (2018).

moving picture remake fiction

The Faculty (1998Moving picture, 104 minutes)

moving picture remake fiction