Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Sci-Fi Horror  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Though it was an inexpensive production for B-movie studio Allied Artists, Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is a class-A 1950s science fiction allegory about the fragility of inner passion. With Siegel's matter-of-fact approach and "ordinary" small town setting and characters, the story about human possession by unexplained alien pods becomes all the more frightening; though the pods are from elsewhere, the "monsters" assume human faces. While the pods have often been seen as a Cold War sci-fi metaphor for Communist infiltration of American society, they are an equally compelling symbol of soul-deadening 1950s suburban conformity. Siegel himself liked to assert that the Hollywood studios were filled with pods; and when Allied Artists saw Siegel's bleak ending, they demanded a prologue and epilogue that added an element of hope. The "Siegel version" of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, however, was seen in Europe and "underground" American screenings, before the 1979 reissue officially deleted the studio-mandated additions. Though it has been remade twice, in 1978 by Philip Kaufman and 1994 by Abel Ferrara, Siegel's tightly constructed, black-and-white version remains the best adaptation of the Jack Finney story. The movie also features a cameo appearance by Siegel assistant Sam Peckinpah.