10/10/10

Where ya gonna go? Where ya gonna run? Where ya gonna hide?: THE BODY SNATCHERS

1993's Body Snatchers, while not as entertaining as 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or as paranoiac as the 1978 remake - is still heads and shoulders above the 2007 version (Invasion).

Director Abel Ferrara took this familiar tale of seed pods from space and placed the action at a military base that seems to be already infected by the nefarious cosmic sprouts well before our main characters arrive.

Once the dysfunctional family arrive (an EPA doc played by Terry Kinney, his wife played by Meg Tilly and their kids played by Gabrielle Anwar and Reilly Murphy) at the housing center on the base, it's already apparent that something creepy is afoot.  Soldiers stare dull eyed at each other, expressionless neighbors wake at dawn to walk small hefty bags filled with Christ-knows-what out to  trash trucks, pre-school children finger-paint the same bland Jackson Pollock-like pictures, the local bar is mostly empty ... the first to notice this is the youngest son who runs away from his kindergarten  claiming that his classroom is full of "bad people". 

It does not take very long for the obnoxious teen daughter (Anwar) to figure out things are wacky, especially when she dozes off in the bathtub and wakes up to find a partially formed double of her crashing in through the ceiling.  Meanwhile, Mom (who has already morphed) is watching as her husband undergoes his transformation.
At this point, The Body Snatchers really serves up the gross out goods.  We get to see how the pods suck the life out of the living via worm-like roots that slip into the body of their host, and we also get a glimpse of the half formed humanoids (look out for that one hiding under the bed!) - but what really makes this moment of the film so tremendous is when Meg Tilly's character explains to her husband that he's toast:  Tilly stares blankly at her now hysterical mate who is trying to gather his family and leave the military base and says to  him, rather calmly,  "Where you gonna go, where you gonna run, where you gonna hide? Nowhere... 'cause there's no one like you left."  No doubt, this is one of the creepiest bits of dialouge you might ever hear.  Furthermore, when the family does take off, Tilly's pod-mom freaks out and let's out with a banshee howl to warn the others that daddy and the kids are still human!
Unfortunately, after this point, the films sort of falls apart - a hasty retreat from the base ensues, bombs drop and a, seemingly, last minute ending is tacked on.  That said, this version of Jack Finney's classic science fiction story is well worth a viewing if for nothing more than the excellent special effects, and Meg Tilly's spellbinding 11th hour performance.

12 comments:

Maynard Morrissey said...

disappointing but at least way better than the lame "The Invasion"

Rob said...

Ay, I didn't hate The Invasion as much as most everyone else did, but this one is a LOT better. Anwar's great, and Meg's truly chilling (but then, she always seems a bit spooky to me anyhow)but the one character that really stuck with me was Gabrielle's best friend. I haven't seen it in about ten years, but I can't really remember what happened to her. I'm thinking she got "changed"?
Good movie; thanks for reminding me of it!

Pax Romano said...

Rob, she did change - and she got to let go with one of those Pod Person Yells!

Emily said...

Funny, I was just thinking about all four of these films recently. I'd also rank this one third in the canon. It has some creepy moments and a neat central conflict (nuclear family alienation, military conformity) but feels a little too stuck in the '90s to take enough chances.

I also don't hate The Invasion, but wow was Nicole Kidman miscast. When you're choosing an actress to play one of the last human beings able to emote, why oh why do you pick a woman whose botox has kept her face from actually moving?

Still, I like to think all four adaptations say something about their time, which is kind of neat and appropriate for what a remake/adaption is supposed to do.

Pax Romano said...

Emily, I think you are right - each version pretty much sums up the decade it was made during. As for Nicole - yeah, that plastic face only worked when she was pretending to be one of the pod people (wait, there were no pods in her version, right? It was spread like a virus).

Emily said...

I think so? Wasn't it connected to vaccines also? I can't remember. That's one of those interesting in premise but dully executed (or maybe edited) films that is slowly blanking in my mind.

Oh! and super coolness below. My word verification is "boxitc" which may be my new adjective for nicole Kidman's face.

Cinema Du Meep said...

Meg Tilly can do me no wrong.

Pax Romano said...

CDM, and I am sure she feels the same way about you! ;)

Chris Hallock said...

Despite the dive into a "hollywood" ending, I truly love this one. Not as much as the first two version, of course, but I have more appreciation for it each time I see it.

I think the performances are key, and the body takeover scenes are so squishy.

Jack Veasey said...

I love Meg too, and her yowl is my favorite moment in this flick. BTW, if you ever get a chance to see her version of the lesbian vampire tale "Carmilla," check it out. Her title role performance is wonderful -- and Roddy McDowall is in it too.

Matt-suzaka said...

Obnoxious daughter? Don't you mean the misunderstood daughter?! Sorry, I had the hugest crush on Anwar in this film when I was a kid.

While I agree with the consensus that this version is the third best, I think I like it the most of the three (I haven't seen Invasion). I used to love this movie so much when it came out, so some of that nostalgia carries over, but for a film with a number of flaws (the ending as noted in the review) there is a lot of subtext and it does enough things right and in such a different way from the other films.

The whole military being a form of conformity, mirroring the pod people is interesting. And what better place to invade than an army base, where most everyone appears the same and also have weapons and the means to go global with ease?!

It's also nice to see Ferrera outside of his usual NY stomping ground, and a military base is about as opposite from seedy NY than you can get! I love how Snatchers is lit, and Ferrera's use of shadows whenever there are pod people on screen is clearly tied in with their presence on a visual level.

Lastly, Tilly IS so fantastic, but while not nearly as moving, I really like the brief stuff with Ghost Dog too. But it's pretty much a given that he'll be great.

Glade you enjoyed it enough, Pax, and I always like to hear other people's take on this film.

Now, apologize for calling her bratty, or I'll send Emily Valentine to burn down your float!

jef-martel said...

haha! cool coincidence. The 1978 version (i thought it was 1987 :O ) played on television just two days ago (Sunday night)... I ended up going to bet at 12:30 AM so i could finish watching it XD
Cool Review... I guess it's more like a prequel to the last one than a remake from the synopsis you've given.