Some cultural assets (ahem) are so well known that you come to know them by association. I knew the story behind Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 and 1978) long before I saw the original, within the last couple of years. I may have been body-snatched myself since I can’t remember when it was or why I didn’t write a blog post about it. In any case, I’d long been curious about the remake and discovered it free (for the time being) on Amazon Prime. The fact I’m still looking for free stuff proves I’ve not been body-snatched, I guess. If you’ve been raised with our cultural assets you know that the eponymous body snatchers are pod people who look exactly like the victims they destroy. Their goal is a well-ordered society with no emotions.
The thing that’s so interesting about the 1978 version is that its assessment has changed over time. When it first came out, many thought, and opined, that the 1956 black-and-white version was better and this one really added nothing. However, over time this judgment has been questioned. Critics taking a second look have now scored it as one of the best remakes ever made, and not only that, but it is considered one of the best science-fiction horror movies of all time. I suspect nothing in that category will ever displace Alien, but still, my first viewing of the ’78 Body Snatchers agreed with the latter assessment. It is quite good and it has even aged well. You can kind of guess how it’s going to end, largely because the final scene has been played over and over, but still it’s definitely worth watching.
The social commentary in the film runs deep and strong. Non-conformity is suppressed. Life without emotions is better than really feeling something. Simply go along because everyone else does. The parable has changed actors over time—fascination with social media/virtual reality have perhaps become the modern pods—but the story is as old as our species. Probably even older. It’s non-conformists, generally after their demise, that are realized as visionaries. Shooting a car into orbit requires tons of money but not much vision. I’m not conforming, however, when I agree that the 1978 remake is good. My taste in movies has always stood apart from others, at least from my own experience. I also think that horror is often among the more intelligent genres of film. But then, I tend to side with the emotional.