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Alive and richly done, with some great performances!
secondtake9 October 2010
Invasion of the Body Snatcher (1978)

The original 1950s version of this movie is such a favorite of mine, I hesitated to watch this one. But fear not. This is great, too. It's got the same theme, but very richly and creatively rendered, some superb photography, great night stuff, and most importantly, great acting by the key 3 or 4 people.

Director Philip Kaufman works sporadically as director and writer (he hit it big with "Raiders of the Lost Ark") and he clearly has a unique and somewhat fearless vision that remains rooted in Hollywood sensibilities. That is, this is no independent film, yet it's creative.

And it's scary. Between the development of fear over the actual biological invasion, and the old fashioned chase and hide sequences, this is a tense movie. But yet it's convincing, given the realistic, nuanced acting by the main couple, Donald Sutherland (as a Health Department official) and Brooke Adams (as a lab analyst in the same department). Of course, what happens isn't believable at all, somehow, but it's so close to feasible, and in fact so close to what we live with already (some people without feelings, out for themselves, part of a conspiracy, etc.), it isn't hard to pull it off.

Cinematographer Michael Chapman is about as good as it gets in the Hollywood vein, polished and with amazing, varied lighting (he also did "Raging Bull," "The Fugitive," and "Taxi Driver," for starters). So this movie works on every level. The one thing it isn't, of course, is original, but as a remake, we have to take it for how it handles it, 1970s style. Impressive.
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Excellent remake of the 1950s paranoid classic. ALMOST as good as the original.
Infofreak25 April 2003
The original 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' is one of my favourite thrillers of all time, and a very hard movie to top. I'm always sceptical about remakes of classic horror and SF films, but this version by Philip Kaufman is much better than one would expect, and ALMOST as good as the original. I still think Don Siegel's version is the best because it really evokes small town life in middle America, and that makes the horror and suspense all the more effective. Kaufman transplants the setting to San Francisco and the big city location means it loses its sense of intimacy and community, and instead has more of an alienated urban feel to it. But it's still an excellent movie, and along with Cronenberg's 'The Fly' and Carpenter's 'The Thing' the most successful remake of a 1950s horror classic to date. What really helps this movie is the cast. Donald Sutherland, one of the 1970s most interesting and intelligent actors, is excellent in the main role, played by Kevin McCarthy in the first film. And the lovely Brooke Adams ('Days Of Heaven', 'The Dead Zone', 'The Unborn') is first rate as the main female lead, her role being much more substantial than Dan Wynter's in the original. I've had a major crush on Adams ever since I first saw this movie. She is beautiful but goofy and I really thought she was going to be a major star. The supporting cast is excellent, led by the wonderful Jeff Goldblum and 'Alien's Veronica Cartwright, and of course Leonard Nimoy, in his most memorable non-Trek role. Also keep an eye out for cameos by the star and director of the original version (Kevin McCarthy and Don 'Dirty Harry' Siegel), and a very brief but eerie one by Robert Duvall! 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' is a superb example of how to remake a horror classic, and is one of the creepiest and most nerve-wracking thrillers of the 1970s. I highly recommend it and the original 'Body Snatchers', they are two of the scariest movies ever made!
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One of the very best alien invasion still is!
Boba_Fett113817 June 2006
You gotta love the '70's! It was really the golden age of cinema. '70's movies were real, gritty, they had a sense of realism, had an unusual and often revolutionary style of movie-making. Many of the best movies ever made are from the '70's. Not sure if "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" classifies as one of THE best movies ever but it certainly is one of the very best alien invasion movies ever made and therefor remains still one of the very best movies out of its genre.

The realism turns out to be a perfect combination with the horror and science-fiction elements in the movie. It makes the movie haunting and makes us really feel with all of the characters. Their fear becomes sensible and their actions understandable. Nothing 'big' or 'impressive' is ever shown and very little is explained in the movie. The movie and how the events unravel are totally told from the main characters view point. None of the main characters are 'heroes' and instead they are just normal every day persons. Those two elements are the main reason why this movie is so realistic and haunting to watch. It also is the reason why alien invasion movies made present day fail to impress ("Independence Day", Spielberg's "War of the Worlds") They are all told 'big', with special effects and lots of violence with big name actors in them. They are made for entertainment and most of them surely also work well as entertainment, especially in my opinion "Independence Day" which I, unlike many others, find to be a very entertaining and good movie to watch. Those movies are surely good and entertaining enough and its not the cast or crews fault that those recent movies fail to impress the general audience, it's just that those movies were made in the wrong decade and it misses the '70's touch that makes the movies so gritty, raw and realistic to watch.

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is told slow and things happen in a low pace. Since nothing is really explained as the movie unravels, you never really fully understand what is happening and why. It gives the movie an almost paranoid kind of atmosphere, which helps to make this movie more of an horror movie than a science-fiction movie, even though the story itself is obviously fictional. The story to be honest is quite far fetched and perhaps even ridicules at moments but due to the realistic and slow way it is told, none of this matters. It helps to make this movie one of the most haunting ones ever created, also due to its unforgettable haunting ending that is one of the very best out of cinema history, it really is!

The typical unusual '70's cinematography is from Michael Chapman. Leave it up to Chapman to give a movie a realistic look and feeling. ("Taxi Driver", "Raging Bull", "The Fugitive")

The cast of the movie is great. Like every good genre movie from the '70's, it has Donald Sutherland in the main lead. He plays an average, not perfect guy, which again adds to the realism and our involvement with the character. Other fine roles are being played by Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Goldblum in one of his first really big role.

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is way more than just another average, unlikely alien invasion movie. It's brilliantly told, crafted, acted, thoughtful, haunting and realistic. '70's film-making at its very best and it makes this movie still one of the very best out of its genre.

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Filmed nightmare
Mr. Book.7 April 2000
I first saw this film in a movie theater at midnight, as part of an October horror-movie festival. I almost didn't go; I had always had this movie figured as another stupid Hollywood remake of a great film from the past, and thought they were probably only showing it instead of the original because of that weird, vague prejudice against black and white movies that still for some reason permeates this country, even though the novelty of color wore off about forty years ago. But I figured what the hell, it wouldn't hurt to check it out, and when will I get a chance to see any of these movies in a theater again? So I went, and was almost immediately sucked in by the mind-bending direction and the terrific acting. But not only that; it was after midnight, remember, and I was getting sleepy, and I found myself in that kind of hypnotized, pseudo-dreaming state you can get into when you're watching a movie really late at night. I was really into the movie, mind you, but it was like a dream, I wasn't wholly conscious. And just as I was at my most out-of-it, as I was almost technically asleep, the movie hit me with that last shot, you know the one I mean, and jolted me wide awake like a bucket of ice water. It was just like waking up from a nightmare. I thought I was gonna start crying. I haven't been that freaked out by a movie since I was a little kid. As the end credits rolled and the house lights came up, I heard some other people in the theater talking about what a stupid movie it was, man, was that a waste of money, I'm glad it was only three-fifty, and it was a really surreal moment; I've just had one of the most horrifying moments of my waking life, and they're talking about how silly it was (although, truthfully, they may have been a little shaken up themselves and just covering for it, I dunno). A week or so later I was talking about it with my dad, who had seen it when it came out, and I mentioned the ending, and he did a dead-on mimic of the last shot, and I said "God! Don't do that!" I was STILL shaken up by this movie.

There aren't a lot of movies that even try to be frightening--most horror movies (and novels and so on) actually have other concerns: being funny, or shocking, or gory, or surprising, or bizarre, or whatever--and even fewer actually pull it off, actually scare you. Man, does this one pull it off.
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Eerie, Suspenseful & 'Classy' Horror/Sci-Fi Effort
ccthemovieman-125 November 2006
This is a solid horror/sci-fi story with good production values. Those values include outstanding direction by Philip Kaufman, camera-work by Michael Chapman and acting. The cast of main characters was comprised of Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright. Of the group, Sutherland had the most lines and was the most impressive. All of it added up to a pretty classy film, a lot more than you'd except reading the movie title.

There was some profanity and nudity so maybe it wasn't totally classy, but the profanity was light and the nudity was a few shots of Adams' breasts.

The movie clicked because it built up the suspense beautifully, and proved you don't need a lot of violence and gore to scare the viewer. Too bad modern filmmakers of horror films can't seem to understand that. In fact the scariest thing of the movie - and it WAS scary - might have been the eerie noises emanating from the "re-born" humans.

The photography is good and I loved the facial closeups and interesting camera angles. The film is a visual treat. The original film in 1956 is a good one but it's generally conceded this re-make is superior. The star of that first film, by the way - Kevin McCarthy, makes a cameo appearance in here. That was a nice touch.
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Close enough to get a cigar, but not as good as the original
Brandt Sponseller9 February 2005
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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Excellent take on a brilliant story
The_Void8 February 2005
Phillip Kaufman's adaptation of Jack Finney's classic novel had a lot to live up to after the classic 1956 take on it - and I think it lived up to expectations. Though not as great as the more politically orientated original, Kaufman's film is still a lesson in suspense and the central story has lost none of the intrigue that it captured in the original. The story follows an alien life form that has come from outer space and taken residence here on earth. Not content with living in sibilance with humans, the aliens become 'body snatchers' and make duplications of people while they're sleeping. These duplicates take the original host's place and are everything their originals were, only all forms of emotion vanish. Our story takes focus on Martin and Elizabeth, two workers at the US Health Department. After taking home a supposedly new type of flower, Elizabeth finds her boyfriend acting strangely and later discovers that she's not the only one with relatives who aren't quite themselves...

This film works because of a constant sense of paranoia. In the 1950's, this was tied in with the then 'reds under the beds' idea of communism spreading through capitalist America. This film seems to have dispensed with that idea, which gives way to more opportunity for sci-fi horror, which is more than welcome in my opinion. The special effects on display are bold and lavish, and therefore exciting to watch. They are a little hokey, but still not bad at all - the parts where you see the alien duplicate forming are fantastically gruesome, and also rather frightening. The whole idea of the film is frightening, even in spite of the fact that it ever happening is very unlikely. The idea that an alien race can take over almost an entire city in one night, and without anyone realising it, is not one that I'd like to have if I was a paranoid conspiracy theorist! Then there's the notion that they'll get you if you sleep as it's like one man in the film says..."gotta sleep sometime". Invasion of the Body Snatchers is also notable for featuring a great cast, which not only includes the excellent Donald Sutherland and the beautiful Brooke Adams, but also Jeff Goldblum (in his first of two successfully good remakes) and Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a. Captain Spock from Star Trek. Also watch out for cameos from original Invasion of the Body Snatchers director Don Siegel and said film's star.
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One of the Few Good Remakes- A Sci-Fi Classic
Serkan Okar21 January 2011
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the remake of 1956 movie by the same title and considered to be, by many fans, to be the definitive and the best version of the story.

The movie begins with images of plasmas from an alien world floating out into space towards planet earth. Then the rain comes and we see an odd organism growing on plants' leafs. Before too long, people start to act strange, they group and exchange plants, they act indifferent to their surroundings, they are emotionless, almost robotic. A group of characters who are not affected soon find themselves a minority in a world that is changing rapidly.

One of the greatest appeals of this movie is its socio-political resonance. It can be interpreted as a state of minority versus majority, us versus them and individualism versus social conformity. It shows how we try to turn the others into a version of ourselves because we can't tolerate the otherness. And maybe this is a universal common trait of all beings whether alien or human. Even though the commentary is about humans, it is actually alien organism that takes over human bodies (snatches human bodies - hence body snatchers).

The movie also questions how much we should sacrifice to achieve harmony in society. Should we preserve our individuality at risk of conflicting with other members of the society, or should we just join the majority, think like others, walk like others and talk like others do? Like all great science fiction movies, the story is social commentary on the state of the world. This is probably the reason why there are so many versions of this movie. And most recently in 2007, another version was made called "The Invasion" starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.
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gridoon14 August 2000
The story we have here, filmed once before in 1956 (I haven't seen that version) and once again later, in 1994, is so strong and thought-provoking that even a just-adequate film based on it would be quite effective. This 1978 remake goes beyond "just-adequate", though. It's a creepy, scary chiller, and also one of the most intellectual films of this genre I've ever seen. Maybe it lags in a few places, but excellent performances, methodical direction and a LITERALLY chilling finale make it first-class entertainment. (***)
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Awesome and chilling Sci-Fi movie
ngoldmann1 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This remake of the great story of the original is definitely worth a lot of recognition. It keeps the original story line and stays quite close to it but adding a few great things such as the ending. It stays very thrilling and exciting throughout the whole movie. It may seem a little old fashioned when watching it nowadays but the tension makes up for that. The only thing that seems a little strange is when he tries to destroy the factory and it seems like he succeeds doing so because it appears a little exaggerated in my opinion. Still I personally love the dark ending, you really wouldn't expect it and to me it's the most powerful possibility for ending this movie. So if you're in for some chilling tension and enjoy movies like Alien this is just right for you.
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Respectable remake, but not as good as original
dcshanno20 October 2004
The original 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' is one of my favorites. There were so many films from the 1950s that involved an alien threat menacing small town Americana, but 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' was one of the few standouts because it took what it was doing seriously. Not another in a long series of man-in-a-rubber-suit movies, its tactics were more psychological. We, like Dr. Bennell, are uncertain what's going on or even if there actually *is* anything going on until its too late. Then the walls close in on the doctor and Becky, and nowhere is safe, there is nowhere to hide. Added to this is the film's ambiguous subtext, and you end up with a movie that really is much better than it should be.

While I don't think the remake was bad necessarily, I don't think there's anything remarkable about it either. It was good for what it was, but it lacked any real suspense because it began by revealing the threat and then rushed to get that threat underway. Setting the film in a large city was a mistake. One of the strengths of the original was the confusion and horror the characters felt as they slowly watched the people around them, the people they had grown up with and known so well, become strangers. That element's lost when you set the movie in a place where nearly everyone is a stranger to begin with, where you wouldn't know if the person walking down the street is different today than they had been the day before. I also think the third act is overly long and drags out.

Kudos to the man-faced dog, though. That was great.
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More logical and exacting than the original
Agent108 August 2002
While some contend the original was a better version, I still prefer this one. Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy was excellent, providing more logic and insight to the film where the original failed to accomplish. Sure, it was tougher to make a secret invasion of a large city seem more believable, but the more believable and rational appeal of this film puts it heads and tales above the rest. Also, the fact that it is a little more drawn out and conceptualized, it makes for a better night of movie making than the original.
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Very Average. Overall a Disappointment
jbartelone16 September 2007
I found the special effects to be the only thing of strong value in this movie. It involves a health department and scientific research team investigating why people are becoming zombie-like shortly after going to sleep. I liked the beginning of the movie the best. The viewer is drawn into some clever outer-space camera shots. One feels that this is going to be good.

But than, it dies. The dialog is predictable and corny. Even the good actors can not make up for them being forced into B-grade Sci-Fi acting. Invasion of the Body Snatchers seems to drag on and on with very little to excite the viewer. In fact it was on one of my local stations last night and I kept falling asleep missing the last half hour of the movie! To achieve a great sci-fi effect that is everlasting to the viewer, there needs to be a suspense or build up that is maintained throughout the film. A few screams here and there over some strange corpses would be something that you would expect from a 50's horror film. This would be good for its time, but not enough for a 1978 film, which incidentally is a remake.

With this film coming out the year after Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the Star Wars phenomenon, one would expect better pacing in this film. IOTBS appears to have been put together with several characters that don't get into a weak plot, combined with a 50's type script. Good special effects can not save this weak movie.

It's too bad that the quality cast ensemble didn't have a stronger, faster-paced, script to showcase their acting abilities so that this film could have been better.
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They Get You When You Sleep
Claudio Carvalho9 November 2008
The employee of the Department of Public Health Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) tells his friend and coworker, the field investigator Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland), that her boyfriend Dr. Geoffrey Howell (Art Hindle) is not the same person, having a different behavior. Matthew suggests Elizabeth to pay a visit to his friend, the renowned Dr. David Kibner (Leonard Nimoy). They meet him in a lecture and he tries to convince her that she has some emotional problem with Geoffrey, while Elizabeth notes that other people are having the same complaint. When Matthew's friends Nancy (Veronica Cartwright) and Jack Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum) find a clone of Jack in their medical mud business, they call Matthew and he immediately seeks out Elizabeth. He breaks in her house and finds a clone of her. The quartet discovers that people are being replaced by exact emotionless replicas using plants that get them when they sleep.

Don Siegel's" Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956) is one of the best and most scary sci-fi ever. This remake is also great, with an update of the original story with stunning special effects for a 1978 movie. Further, it is a tribute to Don Siegel and Kevin McCarthy, with their cameo. My vote is eight.

"Title (Brazil): "Os Invasores de Corpos" ("The Bodies Invaders")
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Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams discover their friends are being taking over by cold human-duplicates
ma-cortes14 November 2011
This is the second adaptation , still very scary and eerie , about vintage novel deals with San Francisco residents who are being replaced by duplicates hatched from weird pods . It creates an altering the human behaviour in the new invaders. Meanwhile a doctor (top-notch Donald Sutherland) must protect his helper ( significant role for Brooke Adams) and soon aware that pods from outer space are duplicating and replacing everyone there . The doctor may hold the means to avoid the extraterrestrial invasion . The mysterious epidemic from outer space is spread her friends (Art Hindle, Jeff Goldblum , Leonard Nimoy) and San Francisco people , everybody are being take over by emotionless , cold behaving . The mysterious seeds from outer space are growing and destroying San Francisco Bay Area at an alarming attack.

This scary Sci-Fi displays a tense screenplay based on Jack Finney novel titled ¨Body snatchers¨ that can be considered truly disturbing . Packs suspense, chills , thrills, spectacular scenes and pretty turns and twists . Good performances from Donald Sutherland and Veronica Cartwight who subsequently acted in the last version , besides important cameo role by Kevin McCarthy , Donald Siegel and can be glimpsed Robert Duvall . Appropriately rare and frightening musical score by Denny Zeitlin at his last soundtrack . Very good cinematography by the magnificent cameraman John A Alonzo . The motion picture is professionally directed by Philip Kauffman , with great originality in spite of being a remake .

Other versions about this known story are the following : the classic adaptation which emerged as a cinema classic directed by Donald Siegel(1956) with Kevin McCarthy , Carolyn Jones and Dana Wynter, concerning about mysterious seeds duplicating people , it has emerged as a cinema classic that brings astonishing nightmares ; and inferior rendition in which the horror is diminished by Abel Ferrara(1994) that takes place in a military base with Forrest Whitaker , Meg Tilly, Terry Kenney and Gabriella Anwar. Lately recent version that results to be the least satisfactory titled ¨Invasion¨ with Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman , Jeffrey Wrhight and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel . Rating : Better than average . Worthwhile watching .
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Excellent paranoid science fiction thriller
Bloodwank9 March 2011
I've never seen the original Invasion of the Bodysnatchers but I've long known of the basic set-up through its prodigious influence on genre cinema and writing. Its a terrific idea and endlessly adaptable, which is why there have been three remakes thus far and I'm sure more to come. This one is situated in late 70's San Francisco a fast moving affair with terrific effects work, fine performances and taut suspense steeped in the chilliest of post hippy bad vibes. Donald Sutherland is the hero of the piece, a Department of Health worker who gets involved in an ever escalating nightmare after his co-worker reports her husband acting, well, not himself. Sutherland is good value here, Democrat, skilled cook, able to laugh on his job, model public servant who smacks of free thought, while Brooke Adams is an ideal partner, bringing more of a early rising driven fear to the films earlier stages. As things move along they are joined in their growing awareness by Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright and the film offers some of its best moments here, quirk coming to the fore as the four players spark off each other. Apart from the largely stoic Nimoy, each brings a crackling live wire paranoia to their roles, Adams fearful, Sutherland methodical and Cartwright lively and loopy. Her character is the most far out of the group, an ancient aliens believer and she brings a memorable brightness to the role. One could hardly wish for a more engaging set to meet an individuality sapping menace and they do a great job of powering the film during some of its chase scene longueurs. Those slight lapses were my only real problem with the film, its action is never as interesting as its build up or its wondrous science fiction horror visuals. Fortunately the score keeps the atmosphere up even when the film seems to lag, with lots of nifty disturbing drones. Thematically the concern seems to be with the aftermath of the 60's, radicalism tapped into the mainstream, free thought consumed by quick solutions, societies encounter with such elements actually taking away its freedom. Notice that the aliens first spawn in the form of flowers, and especially the manner of the pod-peoples birth, illustrated in graphic fashion in a great, creepy sequence of obvious symbolism that I shall not reveal here. Altogether I thought this very fine stuff indeed, nightmarish situations, chilling atmosphere and powerful playing, virtually a must see for genre fans.
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If it were not a remake..
dbdumonteil23 September 2001
..then It would be a very original movie.The main concept is very interesting,with a plot as rich as you can imagine in sci-fi:it could be a metaphor on totalitarianism,but ,in a more universal way,it is our world,in which we are more and more asked not to show our emotions."Big boys don't cry" mama tells her sensitive boy.

Supposing that this is the case,and because this is a remake,and a remake of a one of the strongest sci-fi movies in history (Don Siegel,1956),we 've got to expect a new approach,some further developments,in a nutshell,we want to be deeply surprised.

Whether Kaufman succeeds in such a difficult task,the answer is unfortunately no.Yes,there are special effects.Yes,there are good actors:Donald Sutherland,excellent as always,Jeff Godblum,who will score high in the eighties.Yes there are a good use of shadows and light,and of short focal distance,a la Polanski.The last picture is strongly reminiscent of that of "the tenant" (Polanski,1976)

But,on the minus side,there are "updates " that are hard to swallow.Best/worst example:in Siegel 's version,there's a terrifying revealing scene which consists in ..a kiss.It becomes an overtly erotic scene,here,complete with nudity,losing all its emotional power. All the ideas were already in Siegel's version,which renders the new one predictable,really that crowns it for a movie which focuses on suspense.

SPOILER * SPOILER* SPOILER IN THIS PART: A good trick is to be credited to the script writers.At the end of the movie,Sutherland becomes like "them".The director did not use the cinematographic codes:he did not show Sutherland's surrender,and as he leaves his office ,we think he's always "normal".That kind of ellipsis ,which will rarefy as the cinema makes its way across the eighties,shows that he assimilated at least one of the Master Alfred's lessons.END OF SPOILER.

There will be a third version(Body snatchers,Ferrara,1994).I agree with M.Maltin when he writes:"Setting the story in a military base when everybody's is supposed to act alike...not a good idea " Stick up with Don Siegel's version,without color,scope,stars,but with a genius going for it.
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Above average replicant.
Robert J. Maxwell3 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This version (1978) follows the general outline of the earlier version (1956) but suffers from being still another remake in what appears to be a recent cascade of replicants. Talk about pods.

What happens is that these pods grow from seeds that have drifted down from outer space. The seeds produce pods that grow into imitations of individuals human beings, with all of the details of the original but without any emotions such as love or hate. The pods finally seem to win.

Right away, there are questions about just how this business works. At least in this version we know what happens to the old, original bodies when they're replaced. They turn into some ashen fluff that's thrown out with the garbage. The 1956 version left that manhole uncovered.

And yet this one is pretty cavalier with the dynamics of podification too. Both versions show that the target person has to be asleep in order for the pod to replace him or her. But in neither version is it clear that the pods must be in physical proximity to the victim. Much is made here of the victim putting the evil flower next to his bed so it can more easily take over while he's asleep. But sometimes, as in the case of Elizabeth (Brooke Adams), she falls asleep out in the middle of nowhere and her replica arises from nearby reeds, where no pod has ever had any reason to tread.

And this version, unlike the earlier one, has scenes that suggests thin slimy tendrils must creep up a victim's arm and into his sleeping nose and eyes in order to complete the process. At other times the tendrils are evidently superfluous.

Then too, if the replicants are as they say, devoid of emotion, well then how do they -- well, reproduce? Do they pollinate?

Now, this movie, like the successful pods, is a replicant too. But it's not bad for what it is. There's a playful element to the script and the direction that reflects its Zeitgeist, as did the original. If the 1956 version was all about a small community in which everyone knew and trusted everyone else, and everyone was kind and generous, and the conformity was stultifying but satisfying, that's kind of what the 1950s were like -- full of what Emile Durkheim called mechanical solidarity.

Eighteen years that happened to encompass the 1960s is a long time between an original and a remake. And this update is bound to a particular location, San Francisco, a big beautiful wide-open city, not an encapsulated village. The ludic spirit informs this later version, so the script has several jokes in it. When a formless, lifeless dead body with some revolting attributes appears in a mud bath, the proprietress (Veronic Cartwright) warns the others, "Don't touch it! You don't know where it's been!" As if it were a stray cat.

In the original, a treacly Spanish song leads Matt Binnell (Kevin McCarthy there, Donald Southerland here) to believe that anyone listening to such beautiful music must be human. Here, the music Bennell hears is "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. That piece is a commercial and artistic cliché by now, but it wasn't in 1974. The fad for the hymn on bagpipes may well have been started by the piper who played every Saturday night at The Edinburg Castle on Geary. Kevin McCarthy, by the way, has a cameo as the guy who flops on the hood of Southerland's car and screams, "They're coming! You're next!" And the director of the 1956 version, Don Siegel, appears as a taxi driver who is a pod person.

San Francisco is a strangely tolerant city and is probably the most suitable American place to develop a contrast between ordinary citizens and those who are emotional black holes like the pod people. Example. An acquaintance of mine, Waldo, who appeared as an extra in this movie, was a successful artist in Berkeley and while I was chatting with him about his work, which IMHO was pretty good, he described how he got his ideas. Whenever he had an interesting dream he would wake up and quickly sketch the images and take a few notes. To wake him up, he wore around his head a band that had jingly bells sewn onto it, in the belief that when he dreamed his head rolled around more actively. His wife, sitting next to him on the couch, remarked laconically, "I guess it works if you say so, Waldo, but it still feels a little weird to sleep next to a guy with bells on his head." She didn't CARE that Waldo wore a fool's cap to bed, and neither would anyone else. That's what I mean when I described the city as tolerant of alternative approaches to life. Nobody cared if Harvey Milk was gay or the Emporer Norton claimed to rule California or a Viennese weight lifter was elected to the post of governor. In 1982 one of the candidates for a city office was a male transvestite, Sister Boom Boom, who wore a miniskirted nun's outfit and sported garish makeup and high heels. Her platform? "Nun of the above." She was on the ballot as an official candidate. You can see, I hope, that there could hardly be a greater contrast between some of these people and the pods. I wouldn't have wanted the remake to be filmed anywhere else.

The movie is a good remake but not without its flaws. Why does it have to end so pessimistically? And that pig-like squeal with which converts point out the unconverted is a bad idea. It's unpleasant to listen to and unsubtle. In the novel the pods sensibly gave up because resistance was too strong. They floated back into space. That kind of discretion is sometimes a perfectly reasonable way to get out of a tight spot.
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So incredibly creepy
mjlancaster_atl26 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the most underrated films of my life. It will scare the daylights out of you, not just because of the story but because of the characters. The characters, especially Donald Southerland, just get under your skin the entire film. The screeching when an unaffected person is found, the pods, the garbage trucks, and the spa are images that will stay with me forever.

I will never go to San Francisco without being reminded of this movie.

If you haven't seen this, rent it. But know that you will not sleep well for a few nights. You will keep hearing the words "don't go to sleep".

The 50's original is good, but not acted as well as the 70's. The later one (90's) takes some of the scariest elements out. This is the one you want to see.
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More logical and exacting it definitely is not
Gore_Won16 September 2007
I can sit through some boring movies, but stopped watching this one at 47th minute. What a waste of time! The actors aren't very good, unlike the first film, and their voices are unemotional though they try. The oppressive atmosphere that made the first movie so successful is gone. Brooke Adams is way too pretty. There's also the heavy handed or bad writing that gives away plot developments from miles away, making this just another horrible horror movie. There are red herrings about the nature of this alien thing that are probably the result of shoddy writing/editing work. I can go on and on, but I shall stop now. Rent another movie.
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She Was Correct! (This time.)
cro2515 June 2014
This is my favorite sci-fi/horror hybrid movie.

I agree with Pauline Kael who said it is "The best science fiction movie ever made." It's flawless. Donald Sutherland has never been better. Jeff Goldblum was allowed to be as unhinged as possible. Brooke Adams is absolutely lovely. Cute as a button, and those eyes! How she does that 'trick" with rolling her eyes is a mystery to me. And Veronica Cartwright was as loony as she was in "Alien." She's terrific. It's creepy, which is much more effective than "scary." Yet when it wants to, it can scare the pants off you. (Think of the banjo player and his dog.) There's little things that require repeat viewings; such as all the garbage trucks, or people behind translucent glass doors simply watching as Sutherland and Adams talk in a hallway. The weird floor polisher, who just happens to be Michael Chapman, the film's cinematographer. Its cameos are so clever, they're brilliant. Kevin McCarthy screaming "You're next!" obviously recalls the later-added bumpers from the original. And Don Seigel even plays an odd cab driver! I love it. I like Philip Kaufman's other movies, but he never made another film as perfect as this. To paraphrase Ms. Kael, it's as close to perfect as a movie can get.
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inspectors718 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Some movies get branded in your head, they're so searing. Phil Kaufman's version of the Jack Finney novel is just such a film. I remember approximately where I was sitting with my girl friend (I remember her name too) in the Fox Theatre in Spokane in the spring of 1979. I remember reading about the secrecy surrounding the film in the science magazine published by that sleazoid founder of Penthouse. I remember thinking that this is not going to end well.

And I was right.

I think IOTBS is the perfect apocalypse movie, several cuts above The Omega Man or Colossus: The Forbin Project. Because of two things, I make this claim. First, the ending leaves us without any hope, not a shred of belief that humanity will somehow survive. It's like On the Beach, only without the radioactive fallout. I left the theatre not glum or dispirited, but in sheer awe of how Homo Sapien Sapien had had a going out of business sale.

The second reason is that Kaufman took the time to breathe life into the characters. The grief felt by the audience over the loss of people they cared about walked hand and hand with the astonishment that we all were finished.


Won't see ya later, 'gator!

Seeing Brooke Adams' body collapse as Donald Sutherland tries to wake her, and his horrified wail is just one of the images I won't ever let go. Even the tiny bits stayed--Leonard Nimoy sliding into a car with another baddie and croaking, "The sooner, the better." Totally devoid of emotion; utterly alien; spot on.

Kaufman's version is also several cuts above the Don Siegel pretty darned scary original from 1956, but that's not fair. Siegel was hemmed in by the production code and '50s sensibilities, plus the studio making the original thought audiences would stay away from a downer. Siegel shot it, but then had to shoot additional footage that gave the audience hope.

The endings of these two films are so different, it's almost as if they aren't related. One was a metaphor for a burgeoning Communist conspiracy; the other was totally straightforward--aliens land, and we lose.

We lose big.
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Effectively Atmospheric Sci-Fi Horror Film.
Sci-FiHorrorFan14 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This film is an absolute classic and is one of my all time Favourites. This is a perfect example of a great Film it has a good story and good acting and some good special effects. I feel that this film is actually a little Underrated because it does not get talked about enough now a days and it deserves to get talked about more. I do feel that the older films are better than the newer films and this film holds up to this day. The film was Made in the 70s and I could watch it over and over again because of the great story and great actors involved. The story is about spores that fall from space and take root in San Francisco and they change into strange flowers but we soon find out these flowers have the power to clone people and dispose of the original bodies which is a creepy idea. This is without a doubt one of the best Alien invasion movies I've ever seen. The movie has a dark brooding atmosphere throughout and there is a sense of realism in this film.I've always found older films to be more realistic and the good acting helps obviously. The film has the perfect Paranoid atmosphere and good music and it just works so well. Most sci-fi films now a days can't do what this film did they cannot create the paranoid foreboding atmosphere that this film had,Some can but not many. One by one the people of San Francisco get replaced by pod people and I liked how Brooke Adams started to notice that things in town were not right she could sense it and she knew the people were not normal and her and Donald work together and figure out what's going on. This film Is just so well made well written and well directed and I cannot say enough good things about it.

I liked the main five characters a lot and I cared about what happened to them and that's because they were likable and had good character development. Donald Sutherland was great as the main character he was very likable and strong and gave a great performance. Brooke Adams Looks stunning in this film and her character was likable. Jeff Goldblum Veronica Cartwright and Leonard Nimoy were all good in the film and I enjoyed watching them together in this classic. This film has some very memorable scenes in scene that I loved was when Donald fell asleep in the garden and the Alien pods started opening all around him and I have to say those pods looked great the effects were Awesome and the scene itself was creepy and chilling and the sound effects were good too which adds to the suspense. I liked how our main characters had to work together to fight all the pod people I found that entertaining stuff and the last 20 minutes of the film were intense and exciting. There are some really exciting chance scenes at the end of the film I also thought Donald Sutherland kicked a lot of Ass in this Film and he was Fun to watch. The film has many chilling and creepy scenes most memorable the Ending which I won't spoil. The only negative thing I can say about the film is it has a couple of slow spots but other than that I have no problems with the film and everything else works well. This Film is a classic and one of the best Sci-Fi films as well as one of the best remakes I've Ever seen. If you have not seen this film definitely give it a Watch.
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A remake that not only lives up to the original perfectly but almost beats it
TheLittleSongbird31 October 2011
I say this as a big fan of the 1956 film. I have nothing against remakes, some are great, some are good, some are bad, some are downright awful. Fortunately Invasion of the Body Snatchers(1978) is one of the truly great ones, one of those rarities that not just lives up to the original film but almost beats it.

The only reason why it doesn't quite is because the 1956 film does more with the change of the townsfolk. That said, it is a very well made film, with the special effects enhancing the mood rather than distracting from it and the scenery and cinematography striking. The make up is also outstanding.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers also has a strong score that just adds to the tension and suspense, a compelling story especially the ending, in fact for me I marginally preferred the ending here, the dialogue is intelligent and well-delivered and the direction is very fine.

There is some great acting too. Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams are strong leads, while Jeff Goldblum steals the scenes he appears in. Overall, a great film and worthy remake. Anybody who has not seen the Invasion with Craig and Kidman, it may be a good idea to keep it that way. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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One of the Best Remakes on Record!!!
zardoz-1325 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid" director Philip Kaufman fashioned a genuinely sinister remake of the classic Don Siegel chiller "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956) that boasts everything an inspired remake requires to eclipse the hallowed original. Kaufman's Technicolor rehash changes the setting from the rural California town of Santa Mira in the middle 1950s to the sprawling metropolis of San Francisco during late 1970s. Scenarist W.D. Richter garnered an Oscar nomination for his adaptation of author Jack Finney's novel "the Body Snatchers" written in 1955. In other words, Kaufman's film is not a strict remake because he didn't replicate the Siegel film shot-for-shot any more than Richter duplicated the dialogue and action. The Kevin McCarthy & Dana Wynter relationship in the Siegel film differs from the quasi-adulterous relationship between Deputy Department of Public Health Inspector Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) and his colleague Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) who has stumbled upon a unique flower that she cannot identify. Mind you, they never have any time for coitus, but she is cheating on her boyfriend, Geoffrey Howell. Everything begins to go south when Geoffrey exhibits unusual behavior, and Elizabeth suddenly believes that he is an impostor. Nevertheless, this outstanding science fiction remake ties itself to the original because the hysterical character that McCarthy played shows up during a traffic sequence. He is warning the world that all is not well and that 'they are coming for us.' As if this homage to the original didn't constitute something unusual for a remake produced twenty-two years later, the casting of the original director—Don Siegel—in a bit part amounts to a blessing of sorts for Kaufman's film. Indeed, Richter integrates the narrative from one film into another, despite the obvious fact that the McCarthy character couldn't have been on the lam that long. Since Kaufman and Richter refused to confine themselves to a remake in the strictest sense of the meaning, they have fleshed out the narrative considerably and provided visual exposition about the evil alien spores that migrate from a distant planet through space to settle on the Earth. Early sequences depict how the alien spores--referred to as spider webs--permeated the Earth. Indeed, Kaufman and Richter have developed the narrative in greater depth than the Allied Artists' original without sacrificing a shred of subtlety. The first-rate cast, headed by the incomparable Donald Sutherland of "M.A.S.H." fame, includes "Star Trek's" Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, and Brooke Adams. Literally, Kaufman and Richter have taken the Siegel classic and given it a new lease on life with their elaborate, often thrilling, art-house version that plumbs the subject matter for far more. A metaphor for the changing world that appears early on during the action is the cracked windshield of our protagonist's car. Like everything else in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," this symbolism doesn't get in the way of the action. Of course, the surprise ending is fantastic!
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