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  • Gareth Crook

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956) - 7/10

If you’re going to watch only one version of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, I’d say go with the 1978 version with Donald Sutherland, but if you love that film as you should, you really should watch this original too. It’s got that B-movie drama that you only really capture with a 50s black and white picture. It plays like a TV movie, punching straight into the madness in the opening scene as we’re introduced to Dr Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) recounting the horrors of his last few days. It’s arresting stuff. He’s a small town doctor in Santa Mira, arriving home he’s confronted with stories of people not acting like themselves. He might not take interest but for one story coming from Becky (Dana Wynter). He’s got a thing for Becky you see. It feels like a feature length episode of The Twilight Zone, but despite it quickly laying out the eerie notion of the Bodysnatchers, it does feel a bit slow to start. It could just be that I know this story too well. It does have the spooky charm though. Balancing the quaint ideals of suburban 50s America with people replacing vegetation from outer space! Plus there’s a delightful noir narration delivered by our lead to make sure no one gets lost. The introduction of Bennell’s friend Jack (King Donovan) kicks things into gear. He’s found one of the empty Bodysnatcher vessels. He seems quite calm about it until his wife Teddy (Carolyn Jones, who was Morticia in The Addams Family TV show) points out that it’s exactly the same size as him and they twig that something unexplainable is happening. It seems like fairly tame delivery now, but I bet at the time it packed a punch. Not least the bodies popping out of pods. Despite the ‘78 version being more gripping, this is still exhilarating and tense. The acting is of the era, but feels oddly timeless. There’s a romance in its delivery and once it finds its feet, it’s rather brilliant. Even if the studio slightly butchered the ending.



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