Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, Kevin McCarthy, Art Hindle.
Running Time: 115 minutes
Synopsis: In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones.
Philip Kaufman’s acclaimed adaptation of Don Siegel’s 1956 sci-fi classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS remains one the earliest and beloved remakes in the genre, while remaining faithful with author Jack Finney’s source novel ‘The Body Snatchers’. Director Kaufman’s paranoia-fuelled update improves on the simple storyline of a population being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates by shifting the extraterrestrial terror to one of the United States’ most iconic cities. San Francisco adds a sometimes epic scope to proceedings, and also suggests this could very well be a sequel as these pod-like otherworldly arrivals, with the ability to eerily clone human beings, have expanded beyond that initial and unlucky small town. Certainly the short, manic and memorable cameo from original star Kevin McCarthy (looking like he’s never stopped running for over 20 years) offers more than a little hint as the city’s Department of Health chief Donald Sutherland, alongside beautiful colleague Brooke Adams, begin to suspect things are not quite right with their friends and loved ones.
Even now, some 35 years since its initial release, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS still holds up to scrutiny and has dated very well. It’s a solid sci-fi thriller with some staggering practical and unsettling sound effects. Which, much like another classic remake – John Carpenter’s similarly-themed THE THING – are memorably disgusting. Especially in the later scenes. However, it’s the top performances and taut script that perhaps stand out best. Sutherland is committed to giving us a heroic, complex character to root for, while Adams’ damsel-in-distress has both the beauty and brains in attempting to convince her reluctant colleague and newly acquired friends that she’s not crazy in her beliefs that her partner (a superbly creepy Art Hindle) is no longer the same person. He’s devoid of any and all human emotion… and it may be spreading!
The pacing is first rate as we’re slowly introduced to the supporting characters. Jeff Goldblum (warming up for his own stomach-churning remake with Cronenberg’s THE FLY some ten years later) showing us his now familiar “suspiciously neurotic” traits alongside a terrifically traumatised Veronica Cartwright as his wife. The emotional innocence she brings to her (and the film’s) final downbeat scene alongside Sutherland, is not to be understated and when discussing it in the great special features, all involved should be applauded for how it was bravely handled. Coming off his hit iconic Star Trek series and Spock character, Leonard Nimoy too deserves high praise for a menacing portrayal as a celebrity psychologist that could have been overplayed by many others. Even late on, you’re still unsure if he’s part of this alien conspiracy.
Speaking of those special features, the remastered Blu-ray is again a first rate print and package. The cast and crew, particularly the veteran Sutherland who wears a beaming smile when looking back, all seem genuinely proud to have been part of the making.