Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days of Halloween - Day 23 - Movie 2

Seed pods from space land on earth and begin to create duplicates of everyone they come into contact with, leaving the originals as desicated husks, while the emotionless duplicates silently take over the world.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is possibly the best example of a remake that equals, or surpasses, its original, in this case the 1955 movie of the same name. Moving the action from anytown USA to the chaotic city of San Francisco works in its favor, and allows us to take in the transformation of the citizens almost ambiently around the main action as the central characters stumble upon the plot initially by a rash of people claiming that their spouses aren't really their spouses, followed by the discovery of unformed human duplicates and suspicious behavior among their friends, coworkers, and officials. By the time they figure out what's really going on, it might very well be too late.

This film really succeeds by presenting its eerie invasion concept against the mundane day to day lives of the central characters and the behavioral changes detected in their loved ones dismissed as an emotional distancing effected to cope with their hectic and unhappy lives. There's a lot of paranoia on display as well. People not believing others, people suspicious of whether their friends are really their friends, of who can be trusted...The special effects are pretty unsettling, amplified by Ben Burtt's highly effective sound design, which along with Denny Zeitlin's minimalist score, drives a lot of the unease and tension in the film. Then there's my favorite moment in the film, which I won't spoil for those of you who haven't seen it. I'll just say it involves a banjo playing homeless man and his dog.

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