Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

(On Cable TV, June 2017) on the one hand, there isn’t much in Invasion of the Body Snatchers that hasn’t been done elsewhere. The idea of seeing neighbours becoming alien is pure paranoia fuel, and it’s exactly the kind of stuff that leads to remakes (2007’s rather dull The Invasion), uncredited rip-offs or overall spiritual successors. Still, what it does here is done well, whether it’s Donald Sutherland’s eccentric protagonist, Brooke Adams as a decoy heroine, the steadily mounting sense of tension or the various set-pieces. Plus, hey, there are minor but solid roles for Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy. Late-seventies San Francisco is worth a look no matter how long it’s been, the special effects aren’t bad (wow, that mutant dog!) and director Philip Kaufman knows what he’s doing in steadily cranking up the tension. The paranoia grows throughout the film, and perhaps the best thing about it is that its third act does not shy away from consequences or magically resolves the increasing bleakness of its plot. Frankly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ ending is still very effective—and is likely to remain so even as modern studio-driven movies desperately try to avoid anything that may upset audiences.

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