Monday, June 6, 2016

Watch President Snow Fight the Pod People, or Thoughts on Donald Sutherland in Invasion of The Body Snatchers

I should say I hate modern remakes.  Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1978) is a thoughtful update of the sci-fi classic and not-so-latent commie metaphor, starring Donald Sutherland, you know, Jack Bauer’s dad, who portrays Matthew Bennel, a San Francisco health inspector who uncovers an alien conspiracy with the help of Brooke Adams and a very young Jeff Goldblum.
Brooke Adams, a 70’s brunette you may have confused with Margot Kidder or Amy Irving portrays Elizabeth Driscoll, another health inspector who first notices the trend of people complaining that their wives and husband are somehow different and not themselves.  The scene of her walking to work oblivious to the random and uncharacteristic chaos around her predates Shaun of the Dead (2004), but serves as an eerie warning to the viewer.
Hollywood Legend Jeff Goldblum plays Matthew’s friend Jack, who is married to Veronica Cartwright from The Birds (1963), and a cameo in the 2007 remake The Invasion as one of Nicole Kidman’s patients.  The bathhouse scene (not that kind of San Francisco bathhouse) where they find a pod-person mid-transformation remains a terrifyingly surreal highlight, evocative of anything David Cronenberg produced at the time.  Veronica Cartwright’s portrayal of Nancy’s barely concealed hysteria would be used to far greater affect a year later during the infamous chestburster scene in Alien (1979).
These aliens are plant spores from outer space that start out as weird neurological growths on leaves, creating a poisonous environment and an ecological threat.  The genius of the original plotline is that these aliens assimilate you during sleep so staying awake becomes imperative, adding tension and an immediate, identifiable struggle that the entire audience can identify with.
Donald Sutherland gets his windscreen shattered by some angry chefs at the start of the film, and spends the rest of the movie viewing the San Francisco streets through his shattered windshield.  It’s an elegant metaphor for the breakdown in society he witnesses.

Kevin McCarthy from the 1956 original has a wonderful cameo as a frantic madman trying to warn Donald Sutherland, and Leonard Nimoy stars as Dr. David Kibner, a tweedy, touchy-feely celebrity psychiatrist.  Directed by Phillip Kaufmann, whose credits include The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), The Right Stuff (1983), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), and Henry & June (1990).  This movie would inspire two more remakes; Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers (1993 ) and Nicole Kidman’s The Invasion (2005), both of which we will explore in depth this week.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.