Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fun, drive-in horror flick starring Massachusetts’ own Kevin McCarthy. It tells the story of a small town under attack from a mysterious extraterrestrial threat that turns your friends, neighbors, and entire town into mindless automatons set to destroy your family and your way of life if only you would assimilate by taking a little nap after they have gotten their hands on you. However, this film is not all as it seems on the surface as it is almost obvious that Siegel intends to present “a cinematic nightmare concerning the potential communist threat or an anti-McCarthyist message movie wrapped in the protective garb of sci-fi fantasy” (Schneider). A creepy tale that was sure to scare the bobby socks off its original audience, this chiller from the greatest (or… MST3k-ist) age of Hollywood Science Fiction is sure to put a smile on your face at least a few times. Keep the popcorn and candy flowing for this one – it’s a fun ride through the 1950s when doctors took a stiff drink before examining surprise dead bodies on friends’ pool tables.
I saw the 70’s remake of this film, but never the original. I must be honest, I like a good pod people flick as much as the next guy, and there is nothing wrong with getting your rocks off by smashing their heads in with a shovel as they awaken from their gooey pod slumber. But what is the secret they all hide? THE RED THREAT!
This film was a lot of fun. The acting was surprisingly impeccable – frankly, McCarthy carries this film. He performs the role in such a way that it is easy to be convinced this invasion is something to truly be terrified about, and that is probably why so many science fiction productions throughout history have relied on truly great actors to embody their roles. McCarthy, of course, went on to perform as Biff opposite Frederic March in Benedek’s Death of A Salesman (not on the list, but a great film adaptation of a great American play). That said, with all of the camp that this movie hums with (the reveal of the pods is great, but the crib and car trunk business is just silly), McCarthy is a straight man who we can believe in, and that makes all the difference.
I love movies like this. I really do. Give me a Troma or MST3K film any day and I will argue their strengths until I’m out of breath – strengths that power the film in nontraditional but no less valuable and entertaining ways. More, please.