Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake and adaptation of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” remains one of the most resounding arguments for the purpose of remaking films. Often times like the case of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” directors can rework certain ideas and add something to the mythology, allowing for a starker and very bleak vision that helps a film stand on its own. John Carpenter achieved that with “The Thing,” and Philip Kaufman succeeds in adding his own layer of dread and futility with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” A lot of horror movies are filled with some tinge of hope that perhaps humanity or our heroes will prevail over the unusual menace threatening to consume a portion of Earth.
But by the time our characters learn of the alien spores that have covertly landed on Earth, breeding a slew of pods that can duplicate human hosts, relinquishing all sense of identity, it becomes clear the battle is already over. Humanity has lost, and the entirety of 1978’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” centers on a small group of humans that realize the alien menace that’s consuming their planet, and their efforts, however hopeless, to restore some sense of victory and make everyone aware of the invasion somehow. Kaufman’s remake is a dark and gloomy alien apocalypse masterpiece that compliments the original film (the one I prefer) very well.
It not only acknowledges the original in a very clever meta-reference, but somehow suggests that the man in the streets, as played by original star Kevin McCarthy, is the last threads of humanity trying to make people wake up as the tide turns in favor of the alien pods. Kaufman packs his film with a slew of rich performances by some top notch character actors. The film primarily centers on Mathew played by Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth played by Brooke Adams, writer Jack played by Jeff Goldblum and Nancy as played Veronica Cartwright. Kaufman also features a great walk on role by Leonard Nimoy who plays a key role in the development and discovery of the alien invasion.
The more the story unfolds, the more it feels like Kaufman turning the screws on the audience, while delving in to the lunacy of the situation and how unprepared our protagonists are to face it. The moment we end on the iconic blood curdling final scene, it’s a testament to how startlingly easy humanity was to topple, and how we lost not only the battle, but ourselves. Philip Kaufman’s iteration of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is a remarkable science fiction tale that still stuns, baffles, and chills.
Scream Factory packs this collector’s edition with wonderful special features for genre fans. There’s a brand new audio commentary with author and film historian Steve Haberman who offers a very intelligent, and informative conversation on the history of the film’s production, and the themes of the narrative. The second commentary with Phillip Kaufman is ported from the MGM Blu-Ray where he provides interesting technical tidbits and behind the scenes anecdotes. There’s an episode of “Science Fiction Theater” called “Time is Just A Place” based on a short story by Jack Finney, the author of “Body Snatchers,” and is directed by Jack Arnold, the man behind “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
“Leading the Invasion” is a half hour conversation with actor Art Hindle, who discusses his involvement with the movie, his part in the production, and stories about working on the set. “Re-Creating The Invasion” is a sixteen minute talk with screenwriter W.D. Richter who discusses adapting the original novel, the 1956 film adaptation, and the differences in plot and themes. “Scoring the Invasion” is a sixteen minute talk with composer Denny Zeitlin who discusses his approach to the material, his and his creative choices behind the wonderful and creepy score. “Star-Crossed in the Invasion” is an interview with star Brooke Adams, who reminisces about working on the film and with her co-stars.
“Re-Visitors From Outer Space, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod” is a short retrospective with interviews with the cast and crew, conversations about the movie’s origins, the production, and insights on Finney’s original story. “Practical Magic” is a five minute series of short interviews with Philip Kaufman and special effects coordinator Howard Preston. “The Man Behind the Scream” is a closer look at how the sound effects were created with Ben Burtt, and sound editor Bonnie Koehler. “The Invasion Will Be Televised” is a five minute short look at the cinematography, and the noir influence. Finally, there’s an HD still gallery, and an HD series of trailers for “Invasion.”