Dark Horse Comics.
Dark Horse Comics.
Below are the trailers for all four major film iterations of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Though these movies enjoy varying degrees of fame, they all remain close to my heart. There is just something about Jack Finney’s original paranoia-inducing story idea that’s timeless and frightening. (Finney’s 1955 novel served as the basis for the first film, directed by Don Siegel, a year later.) And I always thought that the identity-stealing, alien body snatchers were an elegant monster concept too, because they can be rendered effectively on film with little or no special effects.
The first trailer is for the original 1956 classic, which still holds up surprisingly well. (If you haven’t seen it, then you might discover that it’s got more urgency and less camp than you’d expect from a typical 1950’s alien invasion flick.) The second trailer is for the genuinely frightening 1978 remake, which is, quite simply, one of the top science-fiction/horror films of all time.
I was introduced to both of these movies by my “movie uncle,” Uncle John. I remember thinking the original was far better than I’d expected for an “old black-and-white.” (I’d had a an adolescent’s predictable skepticism about old movies.) And the dour 1978 masterpiece got under my skin and stayed there forever.
The 1993 installment, simply titled “Body Snatchers,” is probably the least well known — I’ve never heard it mentioned outside of horror fan circles. I myself had never heard of it until I stumbled across it in a video store more than a decade following its release. It had a very limited theatrical release, and it sometimes feels like the most generic of the “Body Snatchers” movies — like maybe a made-for-television movie or an especially good entry for the first revival of “The Twilight Zone” (1985-1989).
I love it. You could tell it was a labor of love for its screenwriters and its director, Abel Ferrara … it was obvious that they truly “got” Finney’s concept, and that they set out to deliver just what genre fans wanted. This “Body Snatchers” was freaky, fast-paced and unsettling, and I still feel it deserves a broader following.
The fourth trailer is for the most maligned and recent adaptation of Finney’s novel, 2007’s “The Invasion.” (My god, was this really made 13 years ago? Tempus fugit.) People really dislike this movie, despite a cast led by Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. It was generally panned by both critics and audiences, and I sorta understand why. It’s got its share of flaws — most notably a hasty happy ending that feels tacked on by the studio. I don’t quite love it, but I really like it quite a lot — it’s stylish and ambitious and has a lot of creepy moments. And if you think Nicole Kidman is easy on the eyes, as I do, you’ll see that she looks like a million bucks here.
If you really enjoy these films and are hungry for more, there are two other alien invasion movies that seem to channel the same muse as Finney’s. The first is 1994’s “The Puppet Masters” by Stuart Orme. (It should not be confused with its soundalike contemporary, the “Puppet Master” (singular) horror franchise, which depicts demonic dolls.) “The Puppet Masters” is campy, but still very cool, and it adapts the eponymous 1951 novel by Robert A. Heinlein.
The second recommendation I’d offer is 1998’s “The Faculty.” It’s an even campier horror-comedy aimed more at mainstream audiences, but it’s still a lot if fun.
Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe than time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we lived.
— from “Star Trek: Generations” (1994), screenplay by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga
Isn’t this the coolest Halloween card ever? The little skeleton guy dances.
Hope you guys have something scary planned for the month ahead. I’ve got a short list of movies I’d love to make time for: “Dracula” (1939), “House of the Devil” (2009), “Annabelle Creation” (2017) and “Mr. Mercedes” Season 3 (2019). Yeah, I know that last one isn’t a feature film, but it’s a program of truly cinematic quality. “Mr. Mercedes” has been the best kept secret in Stephen King fandom — no, its antagonist isn’t as flashy as Pennywise the Clown or The Gunslinger’s various nemeses. But it’s a gorgeous adaptation of a King novel that might even be better than its source material. Check it out, seriously — skip “American Horror Story” if you have to.
There are two movies I need to get to that have been recommended to me with a lot of enthusiasm. The first is “In the Mouth of Madness,” 1994’s H.P. Lovecraft adaptation starring Sam Neill. (I actually started it a few years ago after a friend in New York urged me to, but it just didn’t hold my interest.) The second is 2001’s “Shadow of the Vampire,” which features Willem Dafoe doing Nosferatu. (I only discovered just now writing this that John Malkovich portrays F.W. Murnau.)
I’ll tell you something else, too — I’ve checked out one or two short films on the free ALTER channel and they’ve been terrific. Maybe I’m due for another visit there.
This is from sometime in the late 1990’s. I can’t remember which one of you guys sent me this photo, or its date. But I’m running it primarily because of that old red t-shirt, which I loved so much that it nearly fell apart before I threw it out.
It was the “official” t-shirt of the Mary Washington College Department of Psychology, and I thought it was for one of the academic years I attended. But … it looks like it says 1989-1990, and I feel like I even remember that. (It’s a little hard to make out.) I went to MWC just afterward, between 1990 and 1994. I”m not sure what the story is here; maybe an upperclassman gave it to me?
The t-shirts were sold by psychology majors to raise funds for … something. Was it a picnic at the end of the year, or a trip or something? God, I’m getting old.
My only disappointment with that shirt was that I wore it for years without hearing a single relevant “Star Trek” joke.
Because I can’t sleep, and you’ve been dying to know. Here they are, in no particular order:
1) “Memento” (2000)
2) “Fight Club” (1999)
3) “American Psycho” (2000)
4) “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
5) “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)
6) “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)
7) “Natural Born Killers” (1994)
8) Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi” (alternately titled “Zombi 2,” 1979)
9) “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)
10) “The Big Chill” (1983)
And … worst of all … I’m kinda on the fence about the first two “The Evil Dead” films (1981, 1987), Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1971) and John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” (1978). I am hanging my head in shame here over those last two. I know Kubrick’s film is considered a masterpiece. I saw it twice when I was a college student (once in a psychology class!), soooo … maybe I just wasn’t mature enough to grasp it? Mea culpa, people.
I left “Citizen Kane” (1941) and “Ben Hur” (1959) off the list, because I haven’t seen them in their entirety. I was nonplussed enough to turn those off after 40 minutes or so, but I’m weird about never saying I dislike a movie unless I watch the whole thing. You can add 1979’s “Phantasm” to this category too.
I know, I know … there’s nothing wrong with any of these films (except “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” of course, which is terrible). There are just basic ingredients in them that I somehow fail to appreciate.
Now one of you needs to e-mail me a cure for insomnia.