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File:Invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-1956.jpg
Look, you fools. You're in danger. Can't you see? They're after you. They're after all of us. Our wives, our children, everyone. They're here already. YOU'RE NEXT!
Benell's last words.

Classic sci-fi/horror film from 1956, adapted from Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers and directed by Don Siegel.

Miles Benell is a doctor in the small town of Santa Mira whose patients start accusing their family and friends of being impostors. They can't explain their suspicions -- there are no physical or behavioural changes -- but they are still convinced that the people they suspect are no longer themselves. Bennell and his colleague, Kaufman, initially assume this is merely mass hysteria, a diagnosis which seems to be confirmed when the patients start recanting their accusations.

However, Benell soon discovers that the patients were right. The people of Santa Mira are being replaced by alien doppelgangers, identical duplicates grown in pods, which replaced them while they slept. Behind their perfect mimicry of humanity, including emotions, is a soulless void. The pod people have no culture of their own, only what they have copied from humanity, and they have no goal beyond survival.

The film ends with Benell, who has just had to kill his love interest's doppelganger, screaming a warning to heedless motorists.

A relatively happy ending, in which it's implied that the FBI will stop the invasion, was added to the film by meddling executives, but is now usually omitted. In the original book, the pods eventually give up, frustrated by human determination, but in the film the ending seems truly hopeless.

Usually interpreted as a metaphor for Communism, although some view it more as an indictment of McCarthyism and small-town insularity and conformity. There have been several homages and three remakes:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) starred Donald Sutherland as Benell (now named Matthew instead of Miles) and transfered the setting to The City (San Francisco) and worked in an effective theme of urban alienation, which in some respects actually reverses the theme of the original - at one point a character expresses her paranoia that she keeps witnessing people recognizing each other. Isolation is so much a feature of city life that excessive human contact itself is suspicious. This version also cranked the Body Horror; appropriately, three of the film's stars (Brooke Adams, Art Hindle, and Jeff Goldblum) all went on to do films with David Cronenberg. Thanks to its critical acclaim and high performance at the box office, it is considered one of the best horror remakes.

Body Snatchers (1993) was a gender flipped (and teenage) version set on an Army base starring Gabrielle Anwar. More personally focused than the earlier versions; significantly the heroine's step-mother is one of the first to be duplicated and the family dynamic plays a big part in the movie. The film also got some mileage from its military setting and the fact that the protagonist herself was already somewhat detatched from the community.

The Invasion (2007), another Gender Flip version with Nicole Kidman is regarded by most as being the worst of the lot - amongst many changes they dropped the idea of alien replacements entirely going for a simple (and reversible) version of The Virus.


These films include examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The 1978 version shows the invasion taking place in a colder, more impersonal "I'm OK, you're OK, everyone's OK" national culture that often openly questioned whether its best years as a country were behind it. In such an environment, the invasion succeeds.
  • Alien Invasion: Sounds like it. From the name.
  • Assimilation Plot: All of them. Discussed in the 1978 version.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The 1978 version.
  • Body Horror: The 1970s remake answers the question of what happened to the people whom the pods replaced. They melt.
  • The Cameo: Quite a few in the 1978 film; the star of the 1956 version, Kevin McCarthy, plays a man crying, "They're here!" (just like the end of the 1956 film); the 1956 version's director, Don Siegel, plays a cab driver; Robert Duvall plays a priest near the beginning of the film; and Jerry Garcia can be heard on the soundtrack playing the banjo.
  • Cassandra Truth
  • Cleanup Crew: The garbagemen in the 1978 movie.
  • Covered in Gunge: The 2007 version.
  • Creepy Child: Two of Oliver's friends in the 2007 version. Both were infected by the virus.
  • Dutch Angle: The 1978 remake features many bizarre camera angles to emphasize disorientation and isolation.
  • Evil Twin: Kinda.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • The 1956 version ends with the cops catching the snatchers in the act, because the studio thought the original ending was too dark.
      • In hindsight, maybe they had to for their own peace of mind, the original being too dark to just walk away from. This troper and her brother had nightmares for weeks even after seeing the amended 1956 version.
    • The 2007 version had a particularly bad case of this. The original director, Oliver Hirschbiegel turned in a cut that was, like the previous versions, a psychological thriller. The studio had wanted an action flick however, and hired the Wachowski Brothers to refilm the entire third act.
  • Fake American: British actress Dana Wynter plays Becky Driscoll in the original. They got around it in the script by saying the character had just returned to the US after having lived in England for several years.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the 1978 remake, when the group are being chased by the Pod people, Jack and Nancy sacrifice themselves to the pod people as a distraction to allow their friends to escape.
  • Hope Spot: The "Amazing Grace" scene, in the 1978 version.
  • Mythology Gag / Remake Cameo: The 1978 remake had Kevin McCarthy reprise his performance from the ending of the original, banging on the protagonists' windshield and screaming, "You're next!" Later on in the film, Don Siegel (director of the original) appears as an overly-suspicious cab driver.
    • The 2007 version had a woman reprising the Kevin McCarthy performance, and then getting hit by a car.
  • Never Sleep Again: The Pod People can only replace you when you sleep.
  • Only Sane Man: By the end of the original film, Bennell, and no one left unaffected believes him.
  • Playing Against Type: The 1978 version. We're all used to seeing Leonard Nimoy without emotions, but it isn't normally this creepy.
  • Puppeteer Parasite
  • Replicant Snatching: The entire premise of the series.
  • Stepford Suburbia
  • Twist Ending: The 1978 (Matthew was transformed) and 2007 (the alien virus is curable) remakes.
  • The Virus: The 2007 version. It still causes a pod people transformation when the victim sleeps, though.
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