Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

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Donald Sutherland stars as a public health inspector who is initially sceptical of his friend’s claims that people are being “changed”, but soon discovers a widespread conspiracy to replace the entire population.

One of those rarest of the rare examples of a remake that actually surpasses the original, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers dispenses with the anti-communist allegory of the 1950’s version and concentrates on outright horror; in fact because of the appearance of Kevin McCarthy from the original film it can be argued that this is more an unofficial sequel than a remake. The effects bear up quite well – with the unfortunate exception of the dog-with-a-mask-on – the pod people “birth” scene being particularly unsettling and reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s favourite subject matter of corruption of the flesh. It has a tense, oppressive atmosphere that is added to by an eerie soundtrack and the entire concept of being surrounded by a hostile force that cannot be seen or fought which can overwhelm you when you fall asleep – something that is of course, inevitable – is extremely powerful. The build up is incredibly intense and creepy, with an aura of paranoia that is almost palpable and it is an indictment of the industry today that remake of the remake The Invasion (ironically, an empty, soulless copy itself) chose to skip over this part of the film to concentrate on the by the numbers chase sequences towards the end which are far, far less interesting. Not to mention completely ignoring one of the best endings ever filmed.

It’s a great slice of 1970’s sci-fi horror that’s not without its faults, but the overall effect has rarely been matched in an overcrowded genre and the haunting final shot will stay with you long after the film has finished.

7/10

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