Movie Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Twenty-two years later: the remake!

In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion. Featuring Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)

While occasionally falling victim to the decade in some pretty obvious ways — at least to someone familiar with the decade who managed to avoid living in it — this movie is a pretty decently put together film. It isn’t really scary, there aren’t a bunch of scares, but the whole idea behind the movie is still quite horrific on a lot of levels. It may not come across as directly scary in a horror film sense, but the ideas are… wholly awful.

Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy turn in pretty good performances, along with several other extremely recognizable folks: Jeff Goldblum, Nancy Cartwright, for a pair of examples. The acting is definitely lifted by having a great, well-rounded cast. Donald Sutherland is obviously the main character from fairly early on, and some of the relationship parts of the first movie are eschewed in exchange for other aspects of the characters.

As I mentioned above, it is a product of its time and some of the filming… style I guess, from this kind of bothers me. There’s a lot of dark scenes toward the end that can get frustrating (though not as bad as dark scenes in some movies of today), and the black and white version didn’t suffer from this — probably because a dark black and white scene is nearly useless.

They improved on the gross, gooey plant bits, showing them a lot more than the first movie might have. In that respect, what little effects they do use stand out as pretty sweet when judged against the time period.

The best part of this movie is also potentially one of the most unintentionally hilarious when viewed from today: the “twist” ending is somewhat creepy but also suffers a bit from what TV Tropes calls “Narm”: it’s meant to be a serious twist but if you let your sense of disbelief down for a moment it comes off as cheesy.

It’s also a pretty good update on the original, and I can’t wait to see the next one. Final thought before the report card:

I still liked the original a little more, but this is a solid movie.

Report Card:
Running Time: An hour fifty-five.
Acting: Pretty damn good.
Effects: A bit of stuff for the pods. Pretty great for 1978.
Violence: Well, yeah, but nothing over the top.
Gun Use: I don’t recall anything.
Gore: How do you feel about gooey plant gore?
Creepy? As with the original, on several
Monster Type? Seedpeople.
Funny? A few times, but not entirely intentionally.
Nudity: Briefly topless female. Like I said, a product of it’s decade.
Pacing: A much slower burn than the first, but the added time allows for more development.