With Hollywood churning out sub-standard remakes it is fitting that Arrow should pick such a prime moment to give Invasion Of The Body Snatchers a much warranted Blu-ray release. Philip Kauffman – the man who wrote Raiders Of The Lost Ark – proves that, if done right, a remake can not only update a film for a modern audience but can arguably better the original.
Based on Jack Finney’s novel, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers sees space spores descend to Earth, grow in to strange flowers and slowly begin to take over humanity. San Francisco health inspector Matthew (Donald Sutherland) smells a rat when his colleague Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) declares that her husband is an imposter. Despite psychologist friend Dr. Kibner (Leonard Nimoy) doubting the hysteria sweeping the city, Matthew, Elizabeth and Jack (Jeff Goldblum) see first hand a duplication of one of their number and realise, too late, that the invasion is upon us.
Kauffman, like his Raiders director Steven Spielberg, is clearly channelling Alfred Hitchcock for much of Invasion. His slow-burn build-up, skewed camera angles and a brilliant tension that, like the spores at the centre of the film, gradually infect your brain to tap into a wonderful sense of Cold War paranoia.
It’s wonderful B-Movie aesthetic, with the practical effects, akin to fellow body-horror remakes of the era John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly, lending a sense of a delightful gore and unsettling images to allow the same fear the characters are feeling to give the audience a sense of icky realisation. Throw in a dog with a human head – the result of duplication gone bad – and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a rare film that still holds up some 35 years after its original release.
What sets it apart from most B-Movie fair are the characters. They’re genuinely interesting rather than mere fodder for the Body Snatcher meat grinder. Sutherland gives Matthew a cheeky arrogance at the start, happy to flirt with Elizabeth despite her being married. Adams goes from quiet fear to all out panic while Goldblum does his normal routine of dry sarcasm even in the moments of eye-popping horror. As such Invasion manages to be more than just a series of chases with characters you are not only rooting for but willing to escape and tell the rest of the world.
Laced with dread and pulsating set-pieces, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a truly horrific delight.