John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Seventy-Three : Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
In what can best be described as the most paranoia filled movie in the Sci-Fi genre, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” may also be the best remake ever to be filmed. Of course, it has another Jeff Goldblum movie to compete with in “The Fly”. Maybe that’s the key to a good do-over.
To open, we see flowers spreading all over San Francisco, and we’re not exactly sure what’s going on. We meet Geoffrey and Elizabeth, and find out that Geoffrey is a big sports fan. Elizabeth has one of the flowers and hands it to him, and the next day, he’s acting like a whacko, taking a broken glass all the way to the curb to be picked up by the garbage men, without so much as acknowledging Elizabeth.
This troubles her, so she runs off to tell her friend Matthew Bennell, played by Donald Sutherland. And hey, who wouldn’t run to the open arms of Donald Sutherland, that charmer? She tells him that Geoffrey is acting weird, so the two of them go see Bennell’s psychiatrist Dr. Kibner. This is where we run into Jeff Goldblum’s character Jack, who starts rambling and ranting nonsensical jargon, as we might expect. Kibner uses shock tactics to try to explain to Elizabeth that she’s making these feelings up as an excuse to leave Geoffrey. In fact, he’s telling lots of people this, as people not acting themselves seems to be a big problem.
So Jack heads to a spa to get a mudbath, and his wife finds a podperson growing in the back. They tell Kibner about it, but it’s already gone. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem like they can trust anyone, as every agency they call tells them not to panic, or to cause a panic. Eventually, they even know who’s calling before they have a chance to say their names.
When it’s clear that Jack, his wife, Elizabeth and Bennell are the only ones not changed, a race to stop the podpeople’s takeover begins.
So, this movie has some great effects. Watching the birthing scenes made me cringe, and the mere suggestion of being turned into something inhuman and having humanity stolen pushed this into something other than just sci-fi. The horror elements are all there, but the paranoia and creepy space alien atmosphere remains. There are lots of versions of this movie, but of the ones I’ve seen, this one takes the cake. Just wait until you see the final shot. It will leave you stunned.