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Welcome to Mind Control Month, Aliens Week – Day 3. Today, I’m talking about the first remake of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers back in ’56. This one was made two decades later in 1978. Even though I won’t be watching the original film this week, I made sure that this version was rated somewhat similarly to that film, and all major movie websites state as such, so this was the one I picked, primarily because it was in color and had a number of actors I’m currently familiar with, which sometimes helps…sometimes doesn’t. I was -10 years old when this film came out, so can it really hold up to a modern audience? Let’s get into that, but let’s first talk about the plot.
“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” realizes 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?”
So, this is the version that has Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright, and the legendary Jeff Goldblum – actors I have seen multiple times throughout the years, and they all looked so young in this film. This was a ’70s film through and through. I’m sorry, but I’ve never understood how romance could ever really be a thing with Donald Sutherland. I think he looks even worse younger, with that hair that’s basically an afro, and that…that…that mustache, and even though I don’t think he was actually wearing them, I swear that was a disco outfit. That fact alone makes this film a bit aged. So, is it really for a modern audience? I’d say that they can appreciate a few things here and there, like some practical effects, but it’s not fooling anyone as to how old it is.
This is the film where I first noticed how the body snatchers idea actually works, as opposed to how I thought it worked, by adding in an unnecessary step in the “snatching” process. That is, they don’t even use a host body. They basically create a wired connection between the human and the pod while the human is sleeping, they then “download” the information from the human, which quickly creates a carbon copy of the human – systematically killing the original person for some unknown reason. This entire process is sort of cool but ultimately unnecessary. I keep asking myself why – specifically because of yesterday’s film, The Invasion, which compressed and simplified the “snatching” process by doing just that, snatching and using the original body. When I saw that process in this film, I was…a little confused, but whatever.
All that is, in the end, is just my initial impressions. What about the rest of the film? In order to answer that, it’s time to break Invasion of the Body Snatchers down and interpret the stars.
PEOPLE SCORE – 7/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 1|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 1
When it comes to the people in pretty much any of the body snatchers films, they’re all very similar in regards to what they deem important. The acting may have been okay in the ’70s, but I’m not going to lie, the style of acting back then was tame to the degree of silly. I don’t want to say the acting was bad, but in today’s day in age, the acting was bad. As far as characters are concerned, we really don’t have a lot that impresses. The characters are once again forgettable and rely a little more heavily on the cast – which was fine. This was a good cast of actors and I’m glad they played these parts, even if they were forgettable. Like The Invasion, everyone did have their own importance that adds to the story, maybe even more so here. As for chemistry, what can I say? There’s just not any focus on it in order for this to be considered to have great chemistry.
WRITING SCORE – 8/10
Dialogue – 1|Balance – 1|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2
Next up, we’ll talk about the writing category, which received an okay score. The areas where it did best was in the subcategories of the story, originality, and how interesting it is. In general, the entire body snatching concept was quite unique, so each of these films that I’m reviewing will pretty much be interesting. Another great thing about these films is whoever did each of them had creative liberties in mind, because the story itself changes from film to film, actually making each film pretty original in the way it is done, which is pretty cool. The story in this film has a better grasp on the actual story since it didn’t really focus so much on the thriller aspect like The Invasion did. Without the thriller washing everything out, you do notice that the story is pretty captivating. However, there’s nothing to really take notice about the dialogue itself, and it seems like it has a ton of endings and just keeps going and going, making the balance of the film rather jumbled.
BTS SCORE – 6/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 2|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 1|Music – 1
Behind-the-scenes didn’t strike the biggest surprises, as we have to remember that it was indeed made back in the late ’70s, so when it comes to the visuals, it may sometimes have some interesting practical effects, but it also has a ton of weird looking people that are trying to act seriously and it just doesn’t hit well. I will say that a few of the scenes do look nice as if the director was specifically trying to go for some nice, creeping shots, to which they certainly did a nice job here. Nothing about the editing really screamed impressive or complex, so I had to give half points for that. As far as advertisements go, I was disappointed to see how the actual transformations occur, as it’s less about snatching as it is about Invasion of the body clones who kill the original bodies. It’s not always convenient, but I could see where that concept could be done in a better light. The music was also typical and nothing I really care to hear again.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 10/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 2
In my previous review, I somehow forgot to tackle on the narrative arc score. There was definitely a narrative arc score, I just forgot to put it down. In Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the narrative structure was placed perfectly. The introduction had us understanding how this alien race came to be and who the main characters are. The inciting incident was ultimately when the body snatching first started happening, the obstacles were our hero’s slow transformation into acceptance as to what’s going on, the climax is a great culmination of everything involved, and the falling action does a good job at bringing everything to a new norm.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 1/10
Rewatchability – 0|Fun – 0|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 1|Sucks you in – 0
Clearly, the initial remake for Invasion of the Body Snatchers was not all that entertaining for me. In a word, the film was simply boring and aged to a degree that just doesn’t really hit home as it likely did when it was first released. I wouldn’t care to rewatch it, even if it was randomly on TV when nothing else was on, I don’t think I had any sense of fun while watching it, I don’t want to buy it or even own it for free, and it never really sucks you in. I might have a slight impulse to talk to others about the film, but that slight impulse really just comes down to a warning. Watch a different version of the movie, guys.
TOTAL SPECIAL – 25/50
Horror – 10|Thriller – 0|Mystery – 5|Sci-Fi – 5|Halfway Decent – 5
Alright, we are now onto the 5 specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the film. First up, it is listed under the genres of horror, thriller, mystery, and sci-fi, so how were these genres? First, the horror genre was probably its best bet. While I don’t entirely consider this scary, I do believe they had spooky imagery in there and a surprising amount of gore that just shows up randomly, but efficiently. As far as the thriller aspect goes, that’s usually a no-brainer. Thrillers go hand-in-hand with horror, but not this time. I don’t really consider this thrilling…at all, and a big part of that, I’m sure, was its age. How was the mystery angle? Good, but not amazing. In The Invasion, they really delved into how this was scientifically occurring, and they didn’t in this. Instead, the sci-fi comes down to the sheer idea that it is aliens and we just have to accept that. That’s fine, but I’m not giving full points for that. Finally, is it halfway decent? Maybe in 1978, but I review for a modern audience, and a modern audience may not love this one. It’s boring. It doesn’t have the same appeal that it originally had back in the late ’70s. If anything, you can respect the past and respect it for what it was, but it isn’t that any longer.