Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)

Listen up, cause I'm only telling you this once. I'm not bedtime story lady, so pay attention. It's 1956. The world is scared of communism and McCarthyism. You see, a while ago these pods started showing up. Bam, total devastation. End of the world as we know it. Everybody looks the same but nobody acts the same and they're all as emotionless as Barbie and Ken dolls. So it ain't all bad. 

Okay, I stole a bit of Tank Girl's monologue there, sorry. But that pretty much sets up a movie that is definitely before my time believe it or not. BELIEVE IT! It was a time of a kind of paranoia that hasn't been seen since... okay, people were just as paranoid then as in any other time in history. 

They just seem to find different things to be paranoid about. Between the two 'isms' they seem to be afraid of, the main gist is they didn't want to be in a world where their brains were taken over, or they were told how to think. I guess both those things are really the same.
And yet today kids listen to rap/hip hop music that tells them EXACTLY what to think and want: Money, drugs, alcohol, and sex - not necessarily in that order. Oh and that all women must be loose, with huge, umm, assets and very little clothing.

This movie has been redone 
three times since the original. I saw the 1978 version with Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams when I was small (I am NOT THAT OLD PEOPLE!) and frankly the only thing I remember is Sutherland pointing and screeching at the end. Next they screw with it and called it 'Body Snatchers' in 1993, and a FOURTH screwing with the formula simply called it 'The Invasion' in 2007.

I've read where they have a colorized version of the original - nah, that would ruin it. It looks much more... grim and serious in black and white somehow.

The story was not supposed to be so hopeful - I'll explain that in a minute - but the studios wanted happy, happy, happy and so against their better judgement, the scriptwriters adjusted the movie. I don't need to tell you the plot... oh I do? Okay.

Somehow, somewhere, these pods show up (looking like giant fat doobies) and if they're near a human being, they start taking on the likeness of them and when the human falls asleep, it awakes and they... you know, they never really said what happens to the humans when the pods 'wake up'... maybe they just disappear in a cloud, I dunno.

This movie starred Kevin McCarthy as our hero, a small town doctor who realizes his town is fast becoming something - alien. Kevin was always very handsome, even in his later years. You may remember him from Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1983 where he played Uncle Walt in the segment 'It's A Good Life'. He died in 2010 at the age of 96. His girlfriend is played by Dana Wynter, a German actress with quite the impressive list of accomplishments as well.

It was a shocker looking up the actor's list, especially when it came to an ancillary character, Teddy Belicec. I didn't even recognize her - and I should have immediately. I may not be old enough for this film or the TV series but I should at least have recognized Carolyn Jones - who most know as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (1964-1966). Her list of films and televisions appearances take up quite a large page.

So. A wild-eyed McCarthy is detained by police and medical authorities as being out of his head when he claims that his town, Santa Mira, has become the home of pod people and they're gonna spread the things across the country. And in flashback...

The original story (and movie) is a very good one. Being a movie in the 50's means all the men are in suits and ties, the women in dresses and looking like they're getting ready for a party. Oh and something else interesting. Miles Bennell (McCarthy) is reunited with an old flame, Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter). They both had been married to other people. But then...

Miles: "When did you get back?"
Becky: "I got back from London two months ago. I've been in Reno."
Miles: "Reno?"
Becky: "Reno. Dad tells me you were there too."
Miles: "Five months ago."
Becky: "Oh, I'm sorry."

Apparently in 50's speak, when you spend time in 'Reno' that's means you're getting a divorce. Nice reputation for Reno to have. And what a polite way to tell each other that they're free and interested.

But people are freaking right and left 'cause they swear their loved ones aren't anymore. And they're not talking about needing a trip to Reno. These people just plain are not who they say they are anymore.

That same evening Bennell's friend Jack Belicec finds a body with his physical features, though it's not fully developed; later another body is found in the cellar of Becky's home that is a copy of Becky. When Bennell calls Kauffman to the scene, the bodies have mysteriously disappeared and Kauffman informs Bennell that he is falling for the same hysteria. The following night, Bennell, Becky, Jack, and Jack's wife Teddy again find duplicates of themselves, emerging from large seed pods; they conclude that the townspeople are being replaced while asleep by exact physical copies. 

Again for the time this had some decent special effects yet some definite holes in the story. For one, there was no explanation of where the pods came from, and why they were able to absorb all your memories (and you) while you slept, AND where all the bodies that are no longer needed went.

In the original story, it ends with Miles, the only 'real' human left, fruitlessly trying to tell people that the PODS ARE COMING TO GET THEM!!!

1955 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan... Sweet...
Buuuut to keep things 'happy' we get a slightly different beginning so that the whole story is a flashback and before Miles can be committed, they find out he's telling the truth and start calling for... uh... everybody I guess. And there we see a relieved Miles and that is the end of his tale.

It is truly a good movie (don't bother with the others - well, the '78 version was pretty good) and an interesting look at the attitudes and the other quirks of those living in the 50's. Great cars too.