There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt the remain safe from these flesh eating monsters.
Dr. Miles Bennell returns to his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. He is initially skeptical, especially when the alleged dopplegängers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim's lives, but he is eventually persuaded that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon. This film can be seen as a paranoid 1950s warning against those Damn Commies or, conversely, as a metaphor for the tyranny of McCarthyism (or the totalitarian system of Your Choice) and has a pro- and epilogue that was forced upon Siegel by the studio to lighten the tone. Written by
Mark Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring had brushes with Hollywood "Red Scare" witch-hunts, which lends credence to the theory that the film is subtle statement against McCarthyism. Dana Wynter agreed with that sentiment, although she didn't recall the mention of any political statements on-set. Kevin McCarthy believed the film to be an attack on "Madison Avenue" attitudes. Director Don Siegel joked that the pods represented movie industry executives. See more »
Upon discovering two pods in the trunk of his car after visiting the gas station, the hero pulls them from the trunk and sets them on fire with a highway flare whereupon they burst into flame. Nowhere else in the film is there any suggestion that these pods are flammable nor would they be if germinating into a human replica. See more »
Dr. Miles J. Bennell:
Listen to me! Please listen! If you don't, if you won't, if you fail to understand, then the same incredible terror that's menacing me WILL STRIKE AT YOU!
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Clouds form a backdrop for the opening credits. See more »
A chilling motion picture, well directed by Don Sigel, with a script co-written by Daniel Mainwaring and (uncredited) Sam Peckinpah, based on the novel "The Body Snatchers" (aka "Sleep No More") by Jack Finney.
The excellent musical score is by Carmen Dragon. Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter head the cast of this four-star classic in which the inhabitants of a small California town are being replaced by alien look-alikes. The aliens come to Earth in the form of "seed pods" that burst open and spew out a foam which grows into human duplicates, complete with all the memories of the original. The best scene in the film takes place in a greenhouse where several alien pods burst open and disgorge the half-formed copies of the horrified humans.
A prologue, a new ending, and a voice over-narration were added after the film's initial release, to help the audience follow the strange plot. In the added scenes, the story opens with Kevin McCarthy being brought into a hospital, raving about alien invaders. Two doctors (Whit Bissell and Richard Deacon) listen to McCarthy's strange story, which the audience sees as a flashback. At the end of he movie the doctors are understandably skeptical about McCarthy's weird yarn, but an unexpected event lends credence to his story.
Many film reviewers criticize these added scenes as unnecessary, an unwise attempt to conclude the story with a happier ending. But these scenes serve a valuable purpose, increasing the viewers sympathy for McCarthy and his efforts to convince someone that mankind is in danger. The alleged "happier ending" does not establish that mankind will win the battle against the aliens. It simply implies a Chapter Two in this epic struggle. Mankind will have a fighting chance in the war, but the outcome is definitely open to debate.
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