Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 and 1978)

Ken McCarthy, star of the original film, cameoing here in the remake
Foreign invaders manifested in plant form begin to duplicate the human body as soon as the host enters a sleep state, eradicating the original frame and forming a race of emotionless drones. In Don Siegel's original 1956 version, which was concocted as an allegory in response to anti-communist fervor, Kevin McCarthy stars as a small town physician who begins to piece together these mysterious ongoings. When the film was remade by Philip Kaufman in 1978, Donald Sutherland took over the lead playing a San Francisco health inspector in a similar predicament. Both films are intense and wonderfully executed and also function well on their own terms. Siegel's original is a silly, sci-fi 50s B movie played straight and containing great photography, some genuine scares, and a memorable final scene. Kaufman's is a skillful update benefitting from his filmmaking acumen, some new twists on the material  and an outstanding performance from Sutherland.