31 Days of Halloween-Day Five: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

One of the very best sci-fi films of the 1950s, Invasion of the Body Snatchers offers a lot depending on your point of view. Some view it as metaphor for the red scare while others view it as an extreme view of McCarthyism. Whatever the case, it’s a movie that still holds up today. Kevin McCarthy stars as Dr. Miles Bennell, who returns home to Santa Clara to discover that paranoia is beginning to sweep the town. In reality, Earth is being invaded by seed pods from outer space and from these pods emerge grown and emotionless duplicates of ourselves. Dana Wynter, who went on to become a character TV actress in the 60s and 70s, plays the love interest Becky Driscoll. King Donovan plays Jack Belicec, the man who becomes a friend in an hour of need. He’s another character TV actor who has been described as a “thinking man’s Don Knotts”. You might also miss a young Carolyn Jones playing Jacks’ wife Teddy. She’s best remembered for her role as Morticia Addams in the 1960s classic TV series The Addams Family. And we can’t forget minor roles by Wilt Bissell and Richard Deacon, yet again more character actors. I met Kevin McCarthy several years ago at a Trek Expo in Tulsa, OK and he clearly embraced this movie as being one of the high spots of his career. This is based on a story by Jack Finney, who originally wrote a more downbeat ending but was ultimately abandoned for the more feel good version. With a budget around $415,000 it certainly can be classified as a low-budget b movie, yet it remains one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time. Director Don Siegal went on to direct stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood in such films as The Shootist and Dirty Harry. Invasion has been remade four times and we’ll be checking in on the 1978 version later this month. The blu-ray, while offering no extras, is a vast improvement on the picture quality. It and the movie overall are both highly recommended!

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