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Monday, January 28, 2013

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Who says a remake can't be as good as the original?  In 1978 writer W.D. Richter [Slither, Needful Things] updated Jack Finney's original story for a new generation.  The result is a film that is every bit as compelling as the 1956 original.  Kudos to director Philip Kaufmann for hooking the audience from the opening credits to the film's conclusion.  I rarely get excited about title sequences, except in Bond films, but the one in Invasion is visually stunning and creatively sets the stage for everything that is to follow.    Kaufmann's direction [Raiders of the Lost Ark Series] is excellent with perfect pacing that starts slow and then breaks into a sprint, sending the tension hurtling toward the finish line.  Kaufmann, along with cinematographer Michael Chapman [Taxi Driver, Primal Fear] also give us a film that is beautiful to look at with lots of interesting camera angles lighting choices.

Then there's the film score.  Ooooh!  Denny Zeitlin creates a sparse, moody, synth-laden atmosphere that is quite original and refreshing.  Surprisingly, this is the only film score he ever composed.  The urban legend is that he was so worn out by the work he put into Invasion, that he vowed he'd never write another film score.  Accolades and offers came rushing in after the film was released but, unfortunately for us, Zeitlin kept his promise and refused all offers.

Last but not least, this incarnation of Invasion has a powerful cast including Donald Sutherland [Ordinary People, MASH] as the doctor who begins to suspect that something nefarious is happening in his beloved city of San Francisco.  His female counterpart this time around is Brooke Adams [Dead Zone, Shock Waves] who is a plant nerd with no love interest in the doctor whatsoever.  This is quite a contrast to the relationship that's at the center of the 1956 version, but it works well in this remake of the film.  The cast also includes Jeff Goldblum [Jurassic Park, The Fly], Veronica Cartwright [Alien, The Birds] as well as the one and only Leonard Nimoy [Star Trek].  What's not to like about THAT?

Like I said about the original film, if you haven't seen this one, what are you waiting for?  It's a great incarnation of a great story.

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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