Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Movie Review

We now jump ahead a little over 20 years and take a look at the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake of the same name. The movie was released in 1978 and although not a shot for shot remake of the original, it still obtains a lot of the same beats, but with a different, more bleak outcome. The movie is jammed packed full of well known faces and top of the line practical effects, but how does it compare to the original sci-fi classic; read on to find out…

Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion.

With the Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978 version, we skip the small town setting of Santa Mira and go straight to the big city of San Francisco. The movie starts off showing us those pesky alien life forms drifting up from an unknown planet and floating through space (funky 70’s music and all), before eventually finding Earth and landing on the plants and trees of San Fran. The alien seeds then proceed to start mutating and take the shape of flowers. From there, we’re introduced to Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams), who picks up one of the flowers and brings it home to her sloppy boyfriend, Dr. Geoffrey Howell (Art Hindle). The next day, Elizabeth notices that Geoffrey is acting strange (clean cut and emotionless, hint hint) and doesn’t seem to be the same as he was the night before. Elizabeth, who works at the public health department, goes in to see her friend Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland, in a role that required him to have an awesome 70’s perm) and tells him her worries. He thinks nothing of it and recommends she sees his psychiatrist friend, Dr. David Kibner (played wonderfully by the amazing Leonard Nimoy). He convinces her that there is nothing to be afraid of, even though it’s clearly obvious that some crazy shit is happening (thanks to several scenes of people looking oddly emotionless and one great scene involving Kevin McCarthy, as the crazed Dr. Bennell from the original, screaming at the top of his lungs that “they’re here, they’re here, it’s too late”). Matthew, is almost convinced everything is fine, until his friend Jack Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum), finds a featureless body slowly taking the shape of Jack himself, in his bathhouse. From there things start to go rapidly crazier and crazier (that dog scene, frightening yet funny), until we find ourselves with a classic, bleak and downer ending. (Although, if you’ve seen any of photos from this movie online, you can easily guess as to what the ending will be, so fair warning.)

As you can see, the plot for the remake is very similar to the original, although we get the benefit/disadvantage of having an added 30 minutes of run time, which in my opinion wasn’t needed. The extra time boils down to several scenes more of Matthew and Elizabeth running for their lives. So, I’m thinking some extra time in the editing room would’ve been wise, to bring in the time to a more reasonable and comfortable level. Still, don’t let any extra padding complaints confuse you into thinking I didn’t enjoy the movie. In fact, I think it was great, with some truly fantastic scenes and I feel the characters in this version are a little more fleshed out and developed, when compared to the original. Also, the remade “greenhouse” scene from the original, features some top of the line special effects, which will send shivers down your spine (it actually reminded me of the amazing Rob Bottin special effects used in The Thing, which is never a bad thing). I also really enjoyed that they show you what happens when the human body is slowly being taken over and turned into a clone, while you’re sleeping; truly scary stuff. Invasion of the Body Snatchers definitely has more of a creepy factor than the original.

There isn’t much more to say about Invasion of the Body Snatchers, especially if you’ve seen the original. It’s very similar, but also different enough (read creepier), with some great talent leading the way and top of the line special effects. Heck, we even get a set of boobs near the end, which honestly almost makes this movie a perfect score in my book. If you can excuse it’s unnecessary extended run time and give it a chance, you’ll see why it’s another movie worthy of being called a sci-fi classic (of course I’m sure you already know that by know, as the movie is almost 36 years old!).


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