Remake vs Original: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Part 1
By: Justin Hopkins
For anyone who has read one of my Remake vs Original blogs in the past, know I go about them in a particular (long) way of doing them. Basically, I do a full review of the original, storyline plots leading toward the climax, what the pros, cons, and cast. Than give me final grade and do the same for the remake and cast a winner from there. Now, Invasion was one that I wanted to do, but as it turns out, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers didn’t just have one remake; it has three. Now, if I were to do my regular deal with them. This Blog would be close to four thousand words, and I would be in a drunken stupor by the end. So, to save us all, Paul gave me the solution, of doing two at a time. We’ll start with the 1956 vs the 1978 version. The winner will go on to face the 1993 version and finally the 2007 and that will be the ultimate winner. No four thousand words and sanities are intact. Now, with that all out, let’s dive all the way back to 1956 and get started shall we.
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers 1956
The movie starts with a Psychiatrist rushing to the hospital due to an out of control man, Dr. Benell, who was screaming that he was not insane. He gets him to calm down, and he starts to tell the story. Flashing back from him rushing back to Santa Mira from a convention for a medical emergency. His Nurse, Sally meets him. Telling him that he has had a long line of people, some have been waiting for two weeks, but won’t say what was wrong with them. Yet, when he gets back to the office. Most have called off, and those he called back said they were alright. When he goes to lunch, he is greeted by love interest, Becky Driscoll. Who tells him her friend, believes that her Uncle Ira is not her uncle. That he had been replaced. A sentiment that is repeated by little Jimmy about his Mother when he gets back. After advising that he stays with his Grandmother for the night. He goes to meet Becky and Wilma’s to meet Uncle Ira. A man he tells Wilma that he is her Uncle and refers her to a psychiatrist, Dan Kaufman. That night, when Bennell takes Becky out to dinner. They are interrupted by Jack and his wife, who found a body. One in pristine condition, with no fingerprints and Teddy think that it is starting to become Jack. Wondering if this is connected, Bennell has them sit up with the body to see what happens through the night. When it takes on the cut Jack received during the conversation appears on the body and eyes open. They flee to the Doctor’s house. Who calls Kaufmann to come right away, and he goes to get Becky and finds a body that looks like her in the basement.. and that is where I will leave it for now.
There is a good reason that this story has been retold and ripped off so many times and that is because it is a great story. It is a timeless tale of suspense and paranoia, and all it takes is a game of confusion. Trying to keep you guessing about who is human and who is not. Pitting the heroes not just against any kind of monsters, but the faces of their friends and families and not knowing just how far this goes, and way out numbered. The camera angles, shots, and scoring are great. We are 64 years down the line and more than stands up against the test of time.
That kind of rings true for the special effects as well. You are not going to get any bloodbath scenes you see today, or over the top gory moments either, but neither were really needed, and I am giving this the benefit of the doubt on some of the more cheesier moments, like the look of the pods themselves. The birthing scene in the green house looked pretty chilling and must have been really something else back then.
Was a bit taken by surprise by the happy ending here and I think it is mostly due to how many movies I have seen go in the opposite, and I did kind of like the idea that they were listening to him in the end. In a way, it still helps it stand out by ending in hopeful tone. Especially, when we get to the next one.
Casting wise was on the ball. Everyone was awesome. Kevin McCarthy’s descent from smooth talking Doctor to deranged screaming you’re next and they are coming are just legendary moments of cinema. Dana Wynter was class as Becky, and seeing her cold demeanor when she becomes one of them was chilling. Larry Gates’s Dan Kaufman was a great choice to be the speaker when they have Bennell and Becky trapped in the Doctor’s Office. King Donovan and Carolyn Jones were great in support.
There was one minor thing I didn’t like, and that was the monologuing. Didn’t really mind it, till he was on his way to Sally’s. Could have been a better setup had he not been talking about it and by the way he talked. Tipped the fact something bad has already happened in advance, instead of just letting the bad happen. Such a minor thing and not one that is going to have an affect on the final grade, but one that bugged me all the same.
Believe it or not, struggled on what my final grade would be. It was teetering on the line. At the end of the day, couldn’t find myself able to give it any less than: S
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers 1978
Unlike the Original, this one opens up with the Alien Organism out in space. Making it’s way down to Earth and falls in the form of rain, and blooms into a flower. We see kids around picking them, along with Elizabeth, who takes it home to study. Where she thinks it’s a new hybrid. A cross between two plants. Than we jump to Health Inspector Matthew Bennell. A by the books guy who while writing up a restaurant, has his windshield smashed by some angry line cooks. After getting Elizabeth to come in early, we jump to the morning. Her husband Jeffrey is cleaning up the broken glass that the plant was in and took the can straight to a waiting garbage truck. Without saying a word to Elizabeth. Who goes to work and tells Bennell about it. After they go their separate ways. She walks away, in an eerie silence. That night, Jeffery cancels their Basketball game date in suspicious fashion, and she goes to Matthew’s instead. Telling him that she thinks Jeffery is not Jeffery. That he looks like him, but not him. The conversation continues over dinner, and he suggests seeing his friend, David Kibner, a Psychiatrist. The next morning while he is dropping off his dry cleaning. The owner pulls him aside, and tells him, his wife is not his wife. A little worried, he calls her, but she doesn’t answer. Surprising him at work, in hysterics. Flashing back to her day. Noticing people staring awkwardly, and when she tried to see Jeffery. Saw him leaving and follows. Watching him meeting strange people. Passing something off to each of them. When she is done, and her and Matthew are talking, on their way to Kibner’s book party. When a familiar crazy man jumps on their car. Screaming that they are coming, and you’re next. Before a mob chases him off and gets hit by a car. An accident that is not reported when Matthew tries to phone in an eye witness report. Meanwhile, she sees Kibner dealing with a hysterical woman who is screaming that her Husband is not he Husband. After talking her down. Kibner joins the group. Telling them he has been hearing the same thing all week and tells Elizabeth that it’s just her trying to escape and it is in her head. That night, Jack and his wife Nancy find a body covered in slime and hair. Calling Matthew for help.. and that is where I end this.
Much like a good remake, this one does a pretty good job, at not only keeping what made the first one great, and adding and shifting to bring out the best in it. The fact they really weren’t trying to hide as much. Still wanting to keep who was human and not for a bt, but they treated the viewer as if they were involved. Aware that we knew what the movie was about and didn’t treat us like idiots. By starting off with the alien species coming from space. Showing us what to look for, and we got to sit back and watch for that and enjoy the rest of the story they were telling. Allowing them to withhold the biggest surprise for the ending. A stellar example of a good remake.
Also, they went with a point they only talked about in the first one. They talked about Becky being married but didn’t shy away from the relationship between her and Miles, but never mention the affair. While this one focused on the affair that was happening and that it could be a reasonable reason Elizabeth thought Jeffery was a duplicate.
The special effects are still pretty chilling and twisted in all the right ways. Longer more slimy birthing scenes that show not only the effects of the pod people coming to life, but the eye rolling, peeling affects that it had on the sleeping victims. Becky’s transformation especially. The smoothness of Matthew killing his duplicate was more effective than a lot of kills I see today. Camera angles and shots were again fantastic, and score wasn’t bad.
While I enjoyed the fact that the original went with a happy ending. The ending of this is just as legendary, if not more so. Haven’t watched either of these movie and still knew how this ended because of how many times I have seen the picture of Matthew Pointing, and… they still got me. Would love to know when the switch happened. Still just as golden as it always has been.
The casting is once again, spot on. Donald Sutherland’s Matthew is great. What more could even be said. He was likeable guy who made it easy to get behind him. Wanting him to succeed. Helped by the fact he went on the offensive in the factory. Played it perfectly at the end. Not giving it away that he was one of them, until the very end. Leonard Nimoy was so effective as a bad guy. Even when he was suppose to be helping her at the book party. Was so aggressive about it, that he came off as menacing, and after we learn who he really is, and he is still inside. Giving them pill was a great touch. Jeff Goldblum, is really good in support, because of course he is. As well as Veronica Cartwright. Than You got Brooke Adams, who was amazing. Loved her portrayal of Elizabeth. Her laugh was infectious during the weird eye scene that I was sad was not a foreshadow. Going from the sweetest to probably the most terrifying when she turned and let out the screeching. And, after 22 years, Kevin McCarthy still got it. Reprising his role and doing the screaming scene let again. By jumping on the car and issuing the same, dark threat, before meeting a much worse fate this go around. Salute to you, you champion.
I don’t have much in the way of negatives to talk about here. That was a bit of a pacing issue, but more I think about it. More I don’t think it is even big enough to call it a minor negative. So, Final Grade: S
Winner: The Remake
This was so, so much harder than I thought it would be. They are both so good and could easily kick myself for this choice tomorrow. Seriously, everyone involved in both of these two movies deserve huge round of applause for the works of art these two films are. At the end of it, have to ask myself, which would I watch again the soonest, and that is the remake.
As always, I hope you enjoyed and…
Thank You For Reading.