Body Snatchers

The invasion continues.

Year of Release: 1993
Genre: Science Fiction
Rated: R
Running Time: 87 minutes (1:27)
Director: Abel Ferrara


Terry Kinney ... Steve Malone
Meg Tilly ... Carol Malone
Gabrielle Anwar ... Marti Malone
Reilly Murphy ... Andy Malone
Billy Wirth ... Tim Young
Christine Elise ... Jenn Platt
R. Lee Ermey ... General Platt
Kathleen Doyle ... Mrs. Platt
Forest Whitaker ... Major Collins
G. Elvis Phillips ... Pete


Don't sleep. Don't ever sleep. That's when it happens. That's when tentacles leave the alien pod and enter your ears and nostrils. Soon you're not you anymore. You've been taken over, a victim of Body Snatchers.

A science-fiction classic gets an eerie, modern update in this spellbinder inspired by 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers and from the producer of the 1978 remake. Advances in screen special effects now enable director Abel Ferrara and his crew of wizards to depict the actual birthing of a pod - and its devastating effect on the human host.

Who says there's no rest for the wicked? As stars Farielle Anwar, Terry Kinney, Forest Whitaker and Meg Tilly discover, no one rests when the only way to sleep is to keep one eye open. And one foot out the door.


Body Snatchers, the third. Serious life lessons here. Psychiatrists will tell you that paranoia is a personality disorder. They'll also tell you that the reason you have trouble expressing yourself is because when you were four years old your older brother smashed your train set, causing you to feel repressed and inferior. I disagree. The reason you have trouble expressing yourself is because you care too much about what everyone thinks. But more importantly, paranoia is not a personality disorder. Naivete is the personality disorder. Paranoid people outlive people who lack paranoia by a significant margin. They expect the unexpected, they know when something is out or sorts. The rest of you just bumble your way through life, letting circumstance rule and shape your destiny. You're reactive, but will you always be quick enough to dodge the bullet? Paranoid people don't need to, they wear bullet proof vests. But enough on that subject. What I'd like to discuss is change in human beings. More specifically, positive change. People don't change, at least not for the better. People are who they are and have the character flaws they do because they either simply do not care what anyone thinks, they're too blind to see that anything's wrong at all, or they don't see their issues as problematic. And all three types will never have the desire to make self improvements. When the people around you start making positive changes in their lives, it's time to break out the zombie preparedness kit, because something is up. Your average paranoid will pick up on something like this and have their plan of action initiated while everyone else sips $22.95 a cup coffee at Starbucks while complaining about the riffraff that had the audacity to park beside them without having the courtesy to wash their car before doing so. Naive people care, but they care about all the wrong things. Things that when it comes right down to it, only matter to people with shallow, empty lives. So, if someone you know is able to make a positive change in their life, ask questions. Where are the drugs? What happened to that nagging shrew of a girlfriend of yours? Why's there a shovel, lime, and a tarp in the trunk of your car? What pod did you crawl out of? People cannot be trusted. And if you see one that's able to fix a character flaw, you'd better know they've done something very bad to get there. Not buying this stuff? That's fine, you go back to your double latte. There's one lesson even you can learn from Body Snatchers. When R. Lee Ermey is angry, no one is safe.

Body Snatchers begins with a family temporarily moving cross-country because the dad's got a job with the EPA an he's heading out to an army base to make sure they're not dumping any of their toxic waste into the river an creating characters for Troma movies. Along the way they stop for gas an the daughter (Marti) heads for the can so she can write dirty limericks on the wall an see if she can get her tampon to stick to the ceiling of the bathroom; but when she enters, a freaky, strung out soldier from the base grabs ahold of her an scares her bad enough that she no longer needs to use the facilities. He cryptically warns her not to go to sleep, because that's when they get you. When he lets her go she runs back to the car for help an all the hick gas station employees follow her to the bathroom because they've got a bet about whether or not the tampon stuck to the ceiling, but the soldier is gone. So she figures the army base just had a midnight showing of Nightmare on Elm Street an forgets about it. When they arrive at their temporary lodgings, the daughter goes for a walk along the perimeter of the military base an some Communist soldiers come up to the fence. Having realized what a serious threat she is to the security of the base, they tell her that they're onto her Capitalist plot an that she'd better clear outta there before they tell the Czar. Around that time a local girl drives by an picks Marti up so the Commies won't put her under the hot light an make her pledge her love and loyalty to Big Brother. Elsewhere, mom an dad are engaging in some extremely childish foreplay an just when dad thinks he's gonna get to take a tour of Carlsbad Caverns, the youngest walks in an puts the kibosh on that. Ironically, if he'd had a kid to walk in the last time this happened, he wouldn't have this kid cock blocking him now. So the tour's off, an while dad's looking around for his soap on a rope he notices some military folks dragging the neighbor off against his will. But dad figures that's normal in red states an thinks nothing of it. The next morning dad shows up at R. Lee Ermey's office to check in before he starts putting things in beakers an saying things like "this is impossible" an "what the hell is this stuff?" R. Lee is pissed. In all his tenure he's never had some punk hippie show up in his barracks wanting to fart around with his chemistry set, an he makes it clear that this chump needs to get his little tests done an get the hell out of his perimeter.

So after dad gets a fresh pair of underpants, he begins his tests. While he's scooping up some water Forest Whitaker shows up an starts asking him about the side effects of exposure to any of the chemicals on the base. But Dad's the only chemist on earth that doesn't know what the effects of the chemicals he studies can have on humans that come into contact with them an Forest realizes dad's pretty much a waste of time an heads back to the base to try to figure out why his soldiers are all going cuckoo for cocoa puffs. Later that day, some soldiers from the base drop off Dad's testing equipment in his new pad an Marti catches them checking under the mattress for pornography. You'd think people would stop hiding their embarrassing things there. The soldiers play it off an take their leave. Elsewhere, the youngest is stuck at day care with a bunch of Commie children that all make identical finger paintings of what the inside of a mutilated cow looks like. The teacher notices his non-conformity, shakes her head and crosses his name off of the list of potentially gifted children. Then, somehow, the kid escapes from day care and takes off in no particular direction. He's picked up by a soldier who definitely looks to be too cool for school, lets call him, Maverick. So Maverick brings the escapee home, sees Marti, makes some small talk, an realizes that his pants suddenly don't fit quite right anymore. Then the girl that picked Marti up earlier (who it turns out, is R. Lee's daughter) drops by to take Marti out because apparently she has no other friends in the entire city. They go out to the bar near the base an what should be the first clue to some serious strangeness goes unnoticed. Or at least not adequately noticed. The military bar is practically deserted. So Marti goes for a walk with Maverick an bein' that he's as cool as the other side of the pillow, in no time at all he's got his tongue so deep in Marti's mouth all his taste buds get burned off from the stomach acid. Meanwhile, all the regulars from the military bar are out in the middle of the bayou scooping up Swamp Thing's turds an loading em up into the back of trucks. When Marti arrives home Dad's fuming. He doesn't like Maverick an tells him to keep off Marti's landing strip an not to come back. About that time the little one walks into Mom an Dad's room an sees Mom's skin shrivel up like male genitalia in the Arctic Ocean an a new mom pops out of the closet nekkid as a Jay bird. Jr. flips his shit an gets out of there but Dad don't wanna hear it.

The next day, Dad finally gets around to performing some of that work he was contracted to do an the results are something along the lines of "OMG, WTF IS THIS SHIT, I NEED HALP UP HERE!" Later that evening while Marti is napping in the bath water, a secretly planted Swamp Thing turd starts sending out vermicelli strands through the ceiling of the tub an violating her ears an nostrils an glowing like it came out of Lake Chernobyl. Inside the turd a clone is developing, only the Commie soldiers didn't factor in the lacking structural integrity of their government sector building contractors' work an the ceiling caves in before the clone can suck all the humanity out of Marti an it drowns. She gets out of there just in time to yank all the vermicelli out of Dad's orifices an she takes off to get Jr. so they can get out of Dodge. But then Mom starts rationally explaining to dad that things are tough all over an he may as well take some NyQuil an get it over with; cause like Richard Gere, he's got no place else to go. When Dad doesn't quite take the bait Mom sounds the Capitalist alarm an the Commies start coming out of the wood work. They're able to escape an Dad leaves the kids to find help, but all he can find is Forest yelling at the phone dispatcher an generally having a psychotic episode. Then R. Lee an some of his grunts show up an try to give Forest a vaccination to clear up his humanity but he'd rather spray paint the wall with his brains. Shortly thereafter dad comes back an gets the kids an heads out of there, only Dad's acting a little on the lobotomized side an Marti has to jerk the truck off the side of the road, but Dad grabs her an tries to convince her to become one with Stalin until Maverick shows up an Marti takes his gun an gives Dad lead poisoning. Then Maverick tries to grab a chopper but the Commies catch him an make him take the internet troll test to see if they can get a rise out of him. When they can't, they believe he's one of them an let him have the chopper, but while this is happening the Commies grab Marti an Jr. an take em off to the base hospital where they've got Swamp Thing turds ready for anyone that needs some brainwashin'. He's able to peel his eyes away from Marti's nekkid clone long enough to yank the linguini out of real Marti's face holes an the clone dies a sexy, back archingly agonizing death. Then Maverick starts emptying his pistol into Commies until they're able to get to the chopper, but they spot Jr. running their way an scoop him up just in the nick of time. Only the little bastard starts raking Maverick's eyes an spouting anti-Capitalist propaganda until they can't stand it anymore an throw the little bugger out without bothering to issue him a parachute. We'll cut it here an avoid spoiling the ending.

If all that Commie talk didn't make any sense, I'll elaborate. The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers from 1956 has extremely heavy handed undertones... no, undertones probably isn't the right word. I guess because they don't outright say it, undertones, but it's clear. The clones in the movie are intended to be the physical embodiment of the dehumanizing effects of Communism. When everyone is the same, there'll be no conflict, an such. The original movie came out not long after the McCarthy hearings, and ironically starred Kevin McCarthy. Have to wonder how much of a coincidence that is. He's even the crusader against the invasion. But anyway, by 1993 the Commies (at least the version we were so concerned about in the 50s) had transformed completely, the U.S.S.R. had dissolved, and while the plot remains the same, there's no obvious finger pointing in any specific direction as there was in the first movie. At least on that point, this second remake is better than the original. Political bullshit has no place in movies. I don't much care for people attempting to manipulating me, much less when they're so blatantly transparent about it. Me aside, the worst part of it is that this crap works on people. Too many people. While I'm not big on Communism, they're still people, they're not monsters. This kind of mass manipulation of the mainstream public is a tremendously bad idea. Not only because of the specific message the people who think they can control everyone are delivering, but because eventually, they really can't control everyone. You not only have to put out the message, but it has to be one people can embrace. In those days, anti-Communist sentiment wasn't just that, it was also pride in their own Democratic system and the superiority of it. So if the message intended to control people isn't to their liking, guess who they're going to turn on? That's right, the grand puppet master(s). The really unfortunate part is that this nonsense really shouldn't work. Unfortunately, most people can't see when they're being manipulated. Or rationalize somehow that they aren't, or that they even want what's being thrust upon them. It's really very unfortunate. But anyhow, that's a brief history on the "series", which is ultimately just the original movie and three remakes. Each one not as good as the one before it.

Overall, Body Snatchers is a pretty well executed remake. Yeah, take a picture, that kind of blasphemy isn't going to be repeated often. It gets unfair bonus points for not being in black and white, which ultimately doesn't affect the quality of the movie at all, I just don't care for it. Stylistically, movies made in the days of black and white were very different than movies even from the 70s, but I just don't much care for that style. Even if it wasn't evident from the film quality, you can generally tell what decade a movie is from by looking at nothing more than the acting. Acting has been evolving since the silent era and continues to today. The point is that anything old enough to be in black and white is at least a logical enough choice for a remake. Doesn't mean it'll be good, though. Fortunately, this is one of a rare breed of good remakes. It obviously had a decent budget, they could afford a few good actors, good shooting locations and an unobtrusive but effective soundtrack. The plot is classic, you're not paranoid if the whole world really is out to get you. It gives everyone who doesn't happen to be a paranoid schizophrenic the opportunity to see what a day in the life of one is like. The characters are well defined, not necessarily likable, but that's how it goes. I'm usually happy if I'm able to remember which ones are which, and there's no danger of confusing any of these. On the other hand, I don't suppose it's too difficult to make a good movie when your source material is already written out perfectly, and your only task is to make enough minor modifications so it's not identical to the point that no one will come see it. On still a third hand, some people have difficulty sticking with their original source material when they do remakes. They want to make the movie their own, change things they really shouldn't be changing, do things that fans of the original haven't seen before. Well, fans of the original are a lot more likely to be outraged when you start changing integral elements of the original, just to be different. But, on the fourth hand, none of the aforementioned hands make a difference, an here's why. Nobody cares if the movie's any good. Movies these days are nothing more than vehicles for getting out of the house, or getting nookie. I guess that second part is nothing new, but bear this in mind. If you're a lousy lay an you finish up in 3 minutes, you're stuck with a shitty movie for another hour and a half. Just you think about that. Body Snatchers version 3.0, good enough for a blind buy on the basis that it's cheap.

Rating: 76%