I’m a major fan of both editions of said title, but do you believe the 1978 remake improves upon the 1956 version? I say yes: some clever twists upon ideas from the original film, a more satisfying ending, a larger and more colourful cast of characters, greater background detail, plus I like the grey dust left behind by the decomposed humans who have been podded (an aspect from the novel not used in the original). Mind you, there is nothing deficient from the original, and I do like the look and style of the monochrome edition. These are both great sci-fi horror films.
Finally, please do not use this thread to divulge major details pertaining to the plot of each film. Thank you.
I agree completely. I’m surprised you don’t mention the third re-make BODY SNATCHERS. I think that one is just as good as the 70’s version. And I don’t think I would even like the original if not for the two re-makes.
And if you haven’t seen the fourth one with Nicole Kidman—don’t.
Mark — I think IBS 2 is a great film, period. It’s surely one of the great remakes of a film in cinema history, at least in my book. That said (and it’s kind of difficult to discuss this without plot details), I prefer the first one. There’s something about that monochrome feel to the film, the same look and feel of so many feather-light 50’s sitcoms, that really intensifies the creepiness. One of the things that really stood out for me about the 78’ film, though, is how the themes of the first film translated so well into color. For me, it blew fresh wind into the sails of the 59’ version, truly a great companion piece.
(If that sounds as vague as it does to me, I apologize.)
Truman — didn’t know there was a third remake, I will check that out. Thanks.
And I will go to hell and back, without Virgil, before I see the fourth remake.
Third one is directed by Abel Ferrara(sp?) samed director of BAD LIEUTENANT and THE FUNERAL, to name a few. Great version.
Last night (Sunday) I was privileged to experience the 1978 version “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” on the big screen at the Astor Theatre (Melbourne, Australia). Somewhat disappointing crowd—about 30 people—for a double bill that included “Sisters” by Brian De Palma.
Most people in the crowd enjoyed it: healthy laughter when Brooke Adams does the thing with her eyes, and at the end, applause from the majority of those in attendance—I was going to hold off from applauding during the silent credits (those who have seen the film will know why), but I happily praised the film with clapping when others began to do so.
(In case anyone wonders why people bother cheering at the end of films when the cast and director aren’t in attendance, this is the Astor Theatre: it is a nostalgia theatre for the most part and relies plenty upon audience feedback so they know if they should programme the film again three to six months from now—healthy applause shows the audience might return, along with others who weren’t there).
I know one regular who absolutely hated the film, but he had (surprise, surprise for people who don’t like this classic) no decent reason for loathing it. I asked him at least four times to say exactly why he hated it, with his only reply being a repeated “I just didn’t like it”.
“You can’t just say you don’t like it: there must be a reason as to why!” I said. Finally, I got him to break…his response?
“There wasn’t any action”.
This being a ludicrous comment to make about a film that, for much of the last half hour, features Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams (as well as Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright, before they are separated temporarily from the others) being chased like crazy across San Francisco. There’s just something about people running in films (climax to “The Graduate”, most of “Run Lola Run”, et cetera) that heightens the suspense and makes for great cinema.
As I said to this fellow audience member during the intermission between “I.O.T.B.S.” and “Sisters”: Philip Kaufman’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” just avoids so many shortcuts typically associated with sci-fi horror genre films.
I cited the exchange between Jack (Jeff Goldblum) and Matthew (Donald Sutherland), where it is revealed Matthew doesn’t own a gun as being a rather clever way of “disarming” our heroes. If Matthew did have a gun, it would’ve been a very different (and much less interesting) motion picture.
(As a sidenote, this fits perfectly with Donald Sutherland’s character: he lives in San Francisco, a very “progressive” city, and he makes the crack about Elizabeth’s boyfriend Geoffrey possibly having turned into “a Republican” when Elizabeth notes Geoffrey’s strange behaviour—he’s obviously what some might call a “bleeding heart liberal” and keeping a gun in his closet would have been totally contrary to his character—I love small, logical character details like this. How many people would own a gun in suburban San Francisco, anyway?).
Also, I noted to him the general lack of gore in the film. Matthew goes the hack with a garden tool at the expense of his burgeoning pod double, but that’s all you get—and it’s pretty tame in terms of gore, and in fact I wouldn’t even count this as gore, really.
Perhaps this is the advantage of having a non-genre director (Philip Kaufman) directing the film: avoidance of the excesses you might find in a George A. Romero flick. Not to mention superior visuals: remember, this is the same director that went on to helm “The Right Stuff” (and brought along “Snatchers” colleagues Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright!) as well as “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”.
I could write a book on this film and its 1956 predecessor—beyond the fact it’s a great sci-fi horror yarn, they are teeming with social subtext.
The original could be seen as the demise of Small Town America (or for that matter, Small Town Anywhere). Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) seems to be general practitioner to the whole town, and upon returning from a working vacation, is inundated with complaints from trusting patients about how their family members are now imposters. Everyone knows everyone: there’s one scene where Dr. Bennell’s initmate knowledge of who’s whom in Santa Mira is highlighted. Dr. Bennell resolves to flee his perishing small town for safety in one of the big cities (San Francisco or Los Angeles) to spread the word about this fantastic cloning conspiracy (as we see him trying to convince authorities at the beginning of the film before going into flashback mode).
The remake points to the growing paranoia and distrust to found in Big City Existence. Note the scene where Elizabeth is suspicious of Geoffrey because he’s meeting with people she doesn’t recognise: the expectation you are not meant to associate with strangers, you are ONLY supposed to keep to yourself. Brilliant! Elizabeth also notes in her conversation with Matthew how the people of San Fran have “something passing between them”…like it’s an ALIEN CONCEPT for people to be familiar with one another. She’s lived in the city her entire life, to the point where she EXPECTS people to be non-communicative. So when the pods start interacting with one another (in their own austere manner), coupled with Geoffrey’s odd behaviour, it sends up the red flag.
I can relate to Elizabeth Driscoll. Not just because she’s easy on the eyes, either.
Look around any big city and you can already see people in a pod-like state. No emotion, shuffling to and from their jobs, often not “switched on” to their surroundings. Nobody talks to anyone else. Do speak to someone else and they feel indignated and regard you with suspicion. There is a sense of paranoia that hangs across Big City Existence. So how hilarious is it that there is now a device that makes people like pods…shut off to the world, stoic, stoney faced…
Found this while searching for the other two images…brilliant!
Nick and Truman: the Abel version is the SECOND remake. The 2007 edition is the third.
Truman: I didn’t mention the third version (second remake) because the purpose of my thread was to compare only the versions with the full “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” title. “The Body Snatchers” (1993) is very different again from the first two. It’s more interesting to conpare the first two to each other because the basic structure is more similar between them (romantic element between Bennell and Driscoll, chase sequence, et cetera). “The Body Snatchers” is rather different in many ways from the first two films and the book by Jack Finney (and having read the book, it does feature many worthwhile elements not used in the films; it’s told from a first person narrative and includes the grey dust seen in the second film, plus an aside about a shoeshine man, which I liked very much, included in none of the films).
That said, I do like the third version very much. Setting it inside an army base could be seen as a bad thing, considering people in the army act alike anyway, or you could view it another way, with the “conformist military” environment making it all the more difficult to spot “who is a pod, who isn’t a pod”.
I haven’t seen the fourth version (third remake) thus far, although I can tell you it doesn’t feature pods. I’ve seen the trailer and it looks like garbage, yet trailers can only reveal so much. I do know Nicole You-Know-Who, trying to remain awake, swallows a bunch of pills and chugs them down with soda pop, like a woman having an epileptic fit…totally stupid. In the first two films, the “pill swallowing” bit is one of the best parts of the movie: Dr. Bennell gives Jimmy Grimaldi a pill to sleep, Matthew and Elizabeth take speed tablets to stay awake (Elizabeth: “It says take one”. Matthew: “Take five”). The first is wickedly ironic, the second is at least fairly humorous. The latest example is attempting to make a woman chuggin pills and soda look like an adrenalising experience. Stupid. However, I wouldn’t mind seeing the latest version to see how badly the filmmakers cock up, plus I am genuinely curious as to how Veronica Cartwright is used in the film.
Since it helps to mention major plot details while discussing this wonderful film, I shall open a secondary thread where people can mention the ending and fates of certain characters. Anybody who hasn’t experienced “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” ‘56 and ’78 is implored to do so: they are far superior to most horror and sci-fi films. They are "a thinking person’s" double and they deserve to be acknowldged alongside the greatest of their genre.
Finally, anyone else notice Donald’s very British sounding voice (he’s actually Canadian) when he says the word “body” when talking to the police on the telephone? I know he worked in England a lot during the early days of his career, but wow…
Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
Thanks, HAL. Now let’s watch the first three BS films back to back…
I haven’t seen Ferrara’s version. I may get around to it, but I’m generally not a fan of his work.
The 2 that I have seen are both exceptional. I’d tip my hand toward the original because the low budget lighting and stock just makes eveything creepier to me. Kaufman’s version is amazing and has the better ending, but it looks a tad more conventional to me in some scenes.
As for Sutherland, I’ve seen him slip into that weird voice every once in awhile. Very distracting in a recent version of Pride and Prejudice, where he uses the fop voice from Start the Revolution without Me when playing the working father.