7.4/10
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217 user 201 critic

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Trailer
2:15 | Trailer
When strange seeds drift to earth from space, mysterious pods begin to grow and invade San Francisco, California, where they replicate the residents into emotionless automatons one body at a time.

Director:

Philip Kaufman

Writers:

W.D. Richter (screenplay), Jack Finney (novel)
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Popularity
2,230 ( 334)
3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald Sutherland ... Matthew Bennell
Brooke Adams ... Elizabeth Driscoll
Jeff Goldblum ... Jack Bellicec
Veronica Cartwright ... Nancy Bellicec
Leonard Nimoy ... Dr. David Kibner
Art Hindle ... Dr. Geoffrey Howell
Lelia Goldoni ... Katherine Hendley
Kevin McCarthy ... Running Man
Don Siegel ... Taxi Driver
Tom Luddy ... Ted Hendley
Stan Ritchie Stan Ritchie ... Stan
David Fisher David Fisher ... Mr. Gianni
Tom Dahlgren ... Detective
Garry Goodrow Garry Goodrow ... Dr. Boccardo (as Gary Goodrow)
Jerry Walter Jerry Walter ... Restaurant Owner
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Storyline

The first remake of the paranoid infiltration classic moves the setting for the invasion from a small town to the city of San Fransisco and starts as Matthew Bennell notices that several of his friends are complaining that their close relatives are in some way different. When questioned later they themselves seem changed as they deny everything or make lame excuses. As the invaders increase in number they become more open and Bennell, who has by now witnessed an attempted "replacement" realises that he and his friends must escape or suffer the same fate. But who can he trust to help him and who has already been snatched? Written by Mark Thompson <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Watch out! They get you while you're sleeping! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The bagpipe version of Amazing Grace was also played during the sendoff of Spock's coffin in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. See more »

Goofs

Matthew sees a fire axe and decides to run over to it in the factory, after walking past one right as he climbed the ladder. See more »

Quotes

Jack Bellicec: It's a big conspiracy.
Matthew Bennell: What's a conspiracy?
Jack Bellicec: Everything.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the version that ABC-TV ran in 1980, Brooke Adams' nude scene, where she was walking through the greenhouse where the pods were being grown, was replaced with an alternate shot of her wearing the red dress. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Bad Movie: The Movie (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Amazing Grace
Traditional
Performed by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (as the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards)
Courtesy of RCA Limited
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User Reviews

 
Close enough to get a cigar, but not as good as the original
9 February 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

Shortly after Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) discovers a strange plant in her San Francisco-area yard that she cannot identify, her boyfriend begins acting strangely--he looks the same, but Elizabeth swears he's a different person. Before long, more and more people are claiming the same thing about their friends and relatives. Just what is going on? Although not quite as good as the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), this remake is very interesting and well worth a watch. Some things it does better than the original, although slightly more is not done as well. But it is full or intriguing ideas, some beautiful cinematography, and quite a few quirky charms.

One oddity about this film is that it seems to assume that very few people will watch who aren't already familiar with the original. Scripter W.D. Richter and director Philip Kaufman give away the "twist" immediately, and there are a number of statements from characters in this film (such as the first time we hear the advice to not fall asleep) that only make sense if one already knows from Don Siegel's original just why they shouldn't fall asleep. For this reason, I strongly recommend that anyone interested in this film who hasn't seen it yet should make sure they watch the original first.

The opening shots, which firmly set this remake into sci-fi territory, are a great idea, even if the execution is somewhat questionable. I'm not sure that Kaufman's "art gel" works, and the way it moves through space, as if blown by trade winds, is slightly hokey. But I'm willing to forgive a misstep if it's in service of a great idea, and especially if the misstep is the result of budgetary limitations.

Early in the film, the major asset is the cinematography. There is an excellent, slow tracking shot down a hallway, where we only see our main character by way of her feet and a slight reflection in a window. There are a lot of great "tilted" shots. There are a lot of subtle lighting effects to set mood, and a just as many subtle instances of symbolism for the horrors to come.

The cast, featuring Adams, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy and Veronica Cartwright, is an interesting combination of stars who tend to give idiosyncratic performances. Kaufman exploits the collection of personalities well, although occasionally gives us odd "everyone talk at once" scenes which can verge on the brink of annoying. Although I'm not usually the biggest fan of Goldblum (in some roles, such as The Fly, I like him, in some roles he tends to irritate me), I noted an odd similarity between him in this film and an actor and performance I'm much more fond of--David Duchovny and his X-Files character Fox Mulder.

Speaking of that, there is a strong X-Files vibe to this film overall. Whereas the original Invasion had thinly veiled subtexts of fear and doubts of "The Other"--whether politically-rooted (the common analysis is that the original Invasion was a subtext for U.S. fears of communism), religiously-rooted (some see it as a parable about cults, or religions in general) or simply about personal identity (in a philosophical sense of "Who am I/are you?" "What makes one oneself?"), Kaufman's take has stronger subtexts of encroaching mental illness--fear of losing one's mind and a generalized, "clinical" paranoia.

Given that difference, it's perhaps odd that there are so many similarities between the two films. The character structure and relationships are largely the same, with some mostly insignificant differences, including slightly different occupations. There are many scenes taken almost verbatim from the original film, often only with differences of setting, but staged the same, with similar scenarios and occasionally identical dialogue. There is even a wonderful moment where Kevin McCarthy, star of the original film, comes running down the street, screaming that we're all doomed.

A number of quirky moments push the value of Kaufman's film up a notch. These are sprinkled throughout the film, but some highlights are a Robert Duvall cameo as a priest inexplicably on a swingset next to toddlers, the "mud bath" parlor, a brief spurt of marvelous, Zappa-sounding avant-garde classical as we witness a chase down a staircase, and a greenhouse in a shipping yard, through which Elizabeth eventually strolls naked, casually walking by employees. The "creature" effects may be better here than in the original, but they are not more effective for that.

But overall, this is a great film. Just make sure you don't miss the superior original.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

22 December 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,298,129, 25 December 1978

Gross USA:

$24,946,533

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$24,946,533
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Solofilm See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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