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Movie Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

February 9, 2010 2 comments

Two green faces looking at each other.Summary:
Elizabeth wakes up one morning to discover her boyfriend, Jeffrey, being distant and acting odd.  She nearly immediately intuitively senses that this man is not Jeffrey.  The only people to believe her are her boss, Matt, and an author and his wife.  Together the four of them struggle against the nearly invisible alien invasion of a type of plant that morphs human bodies in with their own personalities, thereby replacing the humans.

Review:
This is a remake of the 1956 movie of the same name.  I was told you don’t need to watch the 1956 version first, but now I’m not so sure.  A lot of the story just didn’t make any sense, and I’m wondering if those are plot points that were better addressed in the 1956 version.  For instance, what makes someone at risk to become an alien hybrid?  We know that the aliens came into Elizabeth’s household on a flower, yet her boyfriend morphs overnight whereas she does not.  Why?  Similarly, a process is started by the aliens and at some point it becomes dangerous for that person to sleep, for when they sleep, the metamorphosis completes.  Why isn’t everyone transforming in their sleep?  At what point is it dangerous to sleep?  Why does sleep complete the metamorphosis?  For that matter, why do the aliens duplicate the humans’ dna in a pod?  Why don’t they just invade the body and combine dna that way?  Why does the person’s body disappear when the pod is complete?  Why have they come to earth?  And for the love of god, why do they make that horrible screeching noise?  I’m pretty sure plants don’t generally make noise.  Obviously, this movie left me with a lot of questions and not many answers, and that’s something I don’t tolerate well from my scifi movies.  If you’re going to do scifi, do it well.  Build a world that is not our own but still makes sense!  It ruins the experience for me if I’m continually yanked out of that world by my brain going, “Wait…..what?!”

On the other hand, the special effects are really good for the 1970s.  The opening with the alien life wafting around space is impressive and reminded me of cgi.  The pods are simultaneously realistic-looking and grotesque.  Whatever noise they recorded for the aliens screeching is truly spine-chilling.

Two items of note.  The first is that you get to see Jeff Goldblum of Jurassic Park in another brainy, geek role, which is fun.  Also, there’s some brief nudity, which is always fun in a movie when it’s not in the context of awkward, obviously not really happening sex.

If you like scifi you won’t regret watching this movie.  Just be sure to have something to do while you watch it–like knitting, or a game of Clue–to keep your mind off of the glaring plot holes and unanswered questions.

2 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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