Movie Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Our first non-slasher horror in this series, the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers:

Something evil has taken possession of the small town of Santa Mira, California. Hysterical people accuse their loved ones of being emotionless impostors; of not being themselves. At first, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) tries to convince them they’re wrong…but they’re not. Plant-like extraterrestrials have invaded Earth, replicating the villagers in giant seed “pods” and taking possession of their souls while they sleep. Soon the entire town is overwhelmed by the inhuman horror, but it won’t stop there. In a terrifying race for his life, Dr. Bennell escapes to warn the world of the deadly invasion of the pod people! Remade in both 1978 and 1997, this chilling combination of extraterrestrial terror and anti-conformity paranoia is considered one of the great cult classics of the genre.

Hell yeah. Something completely different. And my how different it is.

This movie is where Seedpeople got its idea, I bet. This movie did it way better, from the acting to the pacing. For a flick that came out almost thirty years before I was born this movie has it all in terms of story, acting, pacing, the works. There aren’t any outrageous special effects, there’s no gore or on-screen killing, and there isn’t even a hint of nudity. It is literally completely different from the slashers I’ve been reviewing.

Of all the “firsts” I’ve reviewed this is by far my favorite — I’d rank them in the order of this, Halloween, Nightmare, and Friday. Not as a slight against the Friday series, that’s just the breaks. The problem here is that there is no sequel: there are only remakes of this movie. Next week will be a review of the first remake, the 1978 version. I can’t wait after seeing this.

The description from Amazon says it all. This movie is about the pod people taking over, and the horror that can inspire. In addition to the dreadful sameness of them all, the idea of being a plant without feelings or emotions — a video game NPC if ever there was one — this movie dials it in just right. And the things spread quickly, quietly — there’s no warning, other than a few people noticing the differences in their friends and family. It isn’t like a zombie apocalypse, there is no obvious enemy. Just a slow shift toward monotony. Eternal, relentless monotony and uniformity.

The slow creep destroying us all is a hell of a scary enemy.

This movie also straddles several camps. It’s got sci-fi (alien plant monsters), it’s got horror (everything I’ve said), and it’s filmed with a film noir film. Given my love of all three genres this movie was like freaking candy. A-plus all around. A top movie across all times and genres. Everyone who likes any of those genres should see this movie. (And if you don’t like any of them, why are you reading my reviews?)

Report Card:
Running Time: An hour twenty.
Acting: Spot-on.
Effects: Not a lot, and they didn’t need them.
Violence: Here and there.
Gun Use: N/A.
Gore: Not a spot of it.
Creepy? On several levels.
Monster Type? Seedpeople.
Funny? It never goes for that feel.
Nudity: In 1956?
Pacing: A wonderful, slow burn.

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