Sunday, September 28, 2014

Body Snatchers (1993)

Along with The Thing From Another WorldThe Blob, and The FlyInvasion of the Body Snatchers is one of those 1950s sci-fi/horror movies that has had its share of cinematic reinterpretations over the decades.  And for good reason.  The chilling tale of the pod people, the semi-parasitic race that replicate human hosts by sucking the life out of them, disposing the leftover skin-sack carcasses, and impersonating their victims as emotionless dopplegangers, is as haunting each time its retold.

This version from 1993 is good.  It doesn't come near the 1978 remake (not only one of the greatest remakes ever made but also one of the best science fiction films in general), but this version offers some new elements and effects, however, which make it relevant and worth seeing if still the inferior movie.  The major elements which keep this one fresh are its setting of an isolated military outpost, more direct verbal confrontations with the invaders, and a lot more scenes featuring prime body-snatching action.

The practical effects in the 1978 film are stunning, and they're really great here as well.  We get even more visuals of the embryonic pod replications as they begin copying and rapidly growing clones of their ensnared, sleeping victims.  From the vines that wrap around bodies finding their way into open mouths and nostrils to the grotesquely human-like pod fetuses, everything is very organic looking which I especially admire now that so many newer movies simply opt for CG.  The practical effects are particularly well-demonstrated in a couple instances where the replication process is stopped mid-cycle by awakened victims, leaving horrid, gasping abominations of living matter not quite at a point where the things can survive independent of their pods.  Another great moment, the bathtub scene is eerie and effective; it's easy to see where Slither (2007) might have taken inspiration.

In a sense, none of the body snatchers movies are remakes but simply separate accounts of the same global event from different isolated locations.  Excusing some of the overlapping character names between the 1956 and 1978 films, we see three separate locations of the invasion: San Francisco, the fictional California small town of Santa Mira, and an undisclosed military base on the outskirts of any major metropolitan areas.  Is the invasion restricted to California, the United States, the entire planet?  It remains to be seen.  As long as I'm alive and breathing there's hope for refuge, resistance, and ultimately retribution against the body snatchers.  Whether they're malevolent or amoral guardians, they must be stopped for humanity's sake!

Working across multiple films would be awesome.  Horror movies are infamous for poor writing and numerous sequels, but with proper focus and strong screenplays the body snatchers movies could achieve what World War Z (2013) should have been: a fictional historical narrative of a world scale phenomenon.  The potential for telling a story of greater magnitude of this nature requires installments with different characters and perspectives which is why I was surprised they went big screen with World War Z, especially when The Walking Dead has been so popular and successful since it premiered in 2010.  Despite the eventual plight of our protagonists in each of the instances of the invasion of the body snatchers, the audience has yet to see how widespread the phenomenon truly is. Would a new body snatchers adaptation starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig use any of this potential or reveal new information about our invaders?  The Invasion (2007), coming to a Blogger near you!