1978 Throwback classic…Invasion of the Body Snatchers


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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is a film that is in the genre of horror. The movie is a remake. The first version of the movie is geared on the communist influence. This version is the opposite of that subject matter. The film focuses on a strange epidemic that is unexplained, but in the suspense of time, the epidemic progresses to get worse. There are weird puzzles around some kind of spirits roaming free in the earth and that brainwashes people and eventually ends up killing them. The film’s incorporation of paranoia plays into the distrust it has on its viewers.

The film focuses primarily on regular society in the beginning of the film. There is rush hour traffic, people in their suits, people grabbing their morning coffee, and just moving along as if the setting is a regular work day. Later on, the credits role with cast members seeming suspicious, but they continue to look as if they are going to work. The opening with ghosts, shadows, and mountains sets the tone for a horror film. The strain of paranoia continues throughout the series of paranoia films through the stress of the characters. Viewers see the stress through the characters Matthew (played by Donald Sutherland), Jack (played by Jeff Goldblum), and Nancy (Veronica Cartwright). Like The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), which shows the main character Eddie Coyle (played by Robert Mitchum) paranoid of how people are out to get him, these three characters have a similar paranoia, but on terms of monsters. The characters are stressed about the monsters because they never know when they will make an appearance.

The events worsen as some people end up dead in the spur of the moment. The suspense of the invasion becomes odd as people encounter weird behaviors in public. As Jack goes to a spa where mud baths take place, one man goes into another room of the spa, and then later Jack finds him dead. As Jack is trying to figure out what to do with the body, the situation becomes haunting. What happens is the dead man’s eyes open and his nose begins to drizzle out blood. The change of events leads me to believe that the movie is about corruption on sci-fi terms. Director Philip Kaufman is trying to suggest that the invasion will become a war. He is trying to say that there is something about this odd epidemic that is a conspiracy. Unlike the original version, this one does not focus so much on communism, but it focuses more on conformity. The way this happens is when other people tell the scared victims to not worry and that is everything is ok, where really it is not.

The film may seem scary, but funny at moments which effects the audience to be laughing at times instead of being scared. An example of this is when a pedestrian runs to Matthew’s car and is scared saying something is out to get to get everyone. That moment is funny based on how the pedestrian looks like he is making a fool of himself because he is just running continuously trying to get everyone’s attention, but nobody believes him.

The ending is the epidemic taking over one of the characters. This throws viewers off guard because there is nothing else to sum up the ending. This ending connects with other films in this era because many of them contain endings that are generally putting the viewers out of place because there is little or no support for the ending. This ending connects to a film like The Graduate (1967) because it has an unexpected ending. The Graduate ended with the two main characters running away from a wedding leaving the viewers with questions. In Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it leaves viewers with questions also. The main character gets infected, he did not fight off getting infected, and then the movie ends showing him in desperation. The suspense built so much tension, but that ending did not make the film that good.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers has tendencies to drag. What I mean by this, is that it is not that attention-grabbing when it opens. I see this as something intentional so viewers will have no idea how out of hand the conflicts get. Twenty minutes or so into the film, the intensity steps up a notch. As characters keep the issues a secret from the authorities, they end up putting so much more paranoia amongst themselves. The director’s choice of changing the era of paranoia films is probably to suggest a change of pace, that being not involving real life situations all the time.

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