Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Sci-Fi Horror  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

Although it relies on special effects as much as psychological shadings to summon up its atmosphere of paranoia and alienation, this horror remake fairly successfully updates the Cold War subtext of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers to poke fun at the psychological and spiritual excesses of the late '70s. From Leonard Nimoy's sinisterly self-assured pop psychologist to Veronica Cartwright's babbling hippie chick and Jeff Goldblum's persnickety poet, the supporting characters all scream "me, me, me." It's up to Donald Sutherland and the wonderful Brooke Adams to play it straight -- a feat both actors accomplish with typical class. San Francisco itself also plays a major role in the film, from shady goings-on in the streets near Civic Center to a creepy traffic accident on Nob Hill. A large team of makeup and special-effects artists blur the line between plant and human with queasy proficiency, while several actors get the chance to squeal and screech with alien voices quite effectively. Although he keeps the pace moving and credibly juggles actorly angst with gross-out set pieces, director Philip Kaufman isn't as masterful here as he would be with more literary material in the years to come. In fact, subtext aside, Jack Finney, author of the source novel The Body Snatchers, always insisted that his book was nothing but light entertainment, and, chilling as it is, the same can be said of this popular adaptation.