Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) — B-Movie Blastworks
***“B Movie Blastworks” is a regular column published on Primary Ignition, written by Mark Leja, staff writer and Connoisseur of Crap, in which he scours the bowels of the internet for unsung B-Movie gems.***
TITLE: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
STARRING: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright
DIRECTOR: Philip Kaufman
STUDIO: United Artists
RUN TIME: 115 min
RELEASED: December 20, 1978
So a bunch of alien spores make it to Earth and bug the shit out of Donald Sutherland, let’s leave it at that. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978), a remake of the original 1956 film, seeks to tell a similar message, THE COMMIES ARE COMING! Slay your children and take that dose of cyanide. They will drink your blood! Political messages aside, let’s begin.
The film sets a very creepy tone almost immediately. Spores land on the fauna and begin to mutate while children laugh and play in the fields. Natural sounds slowly get replaced by mechanical ones, not to mention a shot of Robert Duvall in a priest outfit starring at the camera while on a swing.
Donald Sutherland plays a health official, Matthew, who’s purposely planting fake rat droppings to screw around with restaurants, for reasons I’m not sure of. We then get introduced to Elizabeth (Brooke Adams), the leading lady, whos starts noticing her man Jeff — not to be mistaken with Goldblum — is acting a bit alien to her, ba dum tssh. Elizabeth meets with Matt and starts talking about her feelings about him not being himself. Whenever women talk about their feelings, I want to gag.
So Matt takes out his dry cleaning where he meets a minor Asian character who informs him his wife is wrong. That something is a bit alien — I’ll be here all night people. Matt disregards the fact that two people have already said that their lovers ain’t the same, but damn it a man’s got work to do! He calls Elizabeth and gets no response, so he leaves the health building. We get that whole hand on the shoulder cliché and then Elizabeth starts crying in his arms saying that her husband is still not himself, not to mention a lot of other people, all while an ominous janitor observes them. I guess you can say he’s…wrong.
Elizabeth stalks Jeff and notices that a lot of the townsfolk are meeting up with him and are exchanging things with him. She now notices that almost everyone is acting differently. This is mostly because everyone is staring at her; blame yourself for looking sexy. Matt runs his car into a crazed man played by Kevin McCarthy, who played the main character from the original film, who rants about how the government or something like that is out to get him, just before he gets killed by another car. They then go to a party where Elizabeth is noticing another woman who’s like, “my husband’s acting strangely.” We also get to meet Jeff Goldbum’s character Jack for a second before — Badass Moment Alert! — Leonard Nimoy’s introduction as Dr. David Kibner. He’s trying to convince the wife that everything is ok and he’s helping her but Elizabeth intervenes. He freaks out on Elizabeth and makes a point that the family unit is going to hell but he’s here to save the day.
Jack is now at a massage parlor and a bunch of weird massage place stuff is taking place. Mud baths and — oh my God Jack’s been eaten! The plants ate Jack! They got him, they freaking got him! Now the movie has lost Jeff Goldbum — oh wait…the massage girl, Nancy, just mixed them up. Jack is perfectly fine. Never mind. Turns out the other guy was — oh who cares?! This weird stream of blood starts flowing out of the corpse’s nose, which causes Nancy and Jack to freak out and run away, only to be stopped by Kibner.
Matt is now stalking about Elizabeth’s house after trying to contact her but with no avail. He breaks in and wanders about the place. He is looking for Elizabeth but it’s too late, her naked body lies lifeless in a huge garden, but wait… Nope, she’s fine for now, that body in the plant was just some sort of clone. Matt takes Elizabeth away, avoiding Jeff and his azaleas. Back with Jack at the massage parlor, Kibner doesn’t believe them that the body came to life. They’re gonna try to prove him wrong, but fail, as do most people when they try to prove Leonard Nimoy wrong.
Now we got everyone together, fun! This is epic. Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldbum, Brooke Adams and Veronica Cartwright are all in a room. *head explodes* They devise a plan to figure out just what the hell is going on. Guess what though? Leonard gets into a car…with Jeff. He’s a villain! My God, what is this world coming to? How can they beat Nimoy?! The situation is getting worse and all over America people are starting to become worrisome. Matt needs some rest so he hits the hay, falling asleep next to of course, the PLANTS FROM ANOTHER WORLD!
The thing makes a clone of him in his sleep and it’s like, c’mon dude, wake up already. In fact at this point the plants have cloned all the principle cast. Matt wakes up because Nancy screams at him and now it’s a showdown between the last few humans and an army of clones. They have the whole world against them as they escape the mob of the people of the pod, but they get cornered which leads Goldbum and Cartwright to sacrifice themselves to let Matt and Elizabeth survive.
They make it to a shelter and live happily ever after, until Nimoy captures them and injects him with something. They manage to escape and run into Nancy, who figures out that if you block your human emotions you can imitate a pod person, which sounds great until Nancy screams at a weird Dog/man hybrid, revealing them to the community, which starts making these bizarre howling screams. They are once again fleeing the Pod People, on the run, leaving Nancy behind.
Matt and Elizabeth stow away on a truck hoping to escape, only to find themselves in the middle of a pod production facility. Elizabeth collapses due to fatigue and Matt is left alone, not noticing the alien plant covering her. After holding her one last time in his arms, she collapses in on herself, a naked clone of her soon appearing. Matt flees, running through the pod plants trying to find a way out. He finds the location where they are raising the children of the pod and at this point, humanity is pretty much screwed unless he can save the day. He grabs an axe and lights the whole friggin’ place a fire. A naked Elizabeth appears and points out Matt to the others. He flees once again. God, these people do a lot of fleeing. The plant explodes, along with everyone chasing after Matt, but it’s too late. In a world full of Pod People, Matt now sees that he is the last human. Accepting his fate, he continues his job as monotonous as he can make it, stepping in single file line and becoming a commie just like everyone else. As he walks in the park he sees Nancy; she calls out to him, and he turns. She points and releases a howling scream, informing all the Pod People of a non-pod person.
While we can beat to death the whole debate of original versus remake, I don’t want to go that route. I watched this version first, and it’s good, and nicely paced. While I do see an overuse of fleeing, overall I dig it. Watch it and do your own comparison.
Front page image and interior stills from wtf-film.com.