I downloaded Body Snatchers after going through some old movie catalogues from the early 90’s. This was one of the many titles I came across and I realized I never saw it back in the day. I looked it up on IMDB and was surprised by some of the names involved; Abel Ferrara, R. Lee Ermey, Forest Whitaker and Gabrielle Anwar. It’s funny how this movie puts the whole theatrical/direct-to-video concept in perspective. Apparently this movie was released in America theatrically, got shown on festivals and was reviewed by critics like Roger Ebert, who actually rewarded it with 4 stars. In the Netherlands this movie was dumped in the videostore horror section between movies like Ticks and Leprechaun.
We start off with the Malone family. Dad is working as an environmental inspector and goes to an army base to take samples and such. This will take him some time apparently since the whole family is coming along and they will live on the base until he’s finished with his job. It does’t take long for his children, Marti (a doe-eyed Gabrielle Anwar) and 6 year old Andy to figure out something terrible is going on at the base. Since you’ve read the title and are probably aware of the plot it should come as no surprise that human bodies are being snatched by pods coming from a swamp.
Well to be honest, despite being entertaining, this movie does belong in the horror section between all those other B-titles. It’s fun but in terms of scope reminded me of all those other horror movies from the late 80’s and early 90’s. The central cast is played by several young actors who do their best, but are pretty bland. They aren’t helped by the fact that their characters are never really given any depth, the only exception being the young kid. Ermey and later Academy Award Winner Whitaker have small roles, especially Whitaker only has two scenes in the entire movie and was probably just a day on set.
The actual snatching by the pods is a good looking effect and since Ferrara has no problem with nudity there’s a full frontal shot of Meg Tilly. It felt kind of gratuitous, because you don’t see an unnecessary bush-shot every day in a mainstream movie. Later on even Gabrielle Anwar has a nude scene. To me personally that’s a nice bonus as her nipples have been guest starring in 7 seasons of Burn Notice since they basically point through every shirt she’s wearing in that show. I’m surprised they still aren’t credited.
I saw the original Black and white “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” and while the whole McCarthyism was lost upon me (it was long before my time) I still remember certain key scenes including the depressing ending with the trucks. Ferrara’s version has a couple of memorable scenes, but I found the original to be a superior movie. Whereas the original did look at McCarthy and his hunt for communists, Ferrara chooses to set his movie at a military base where the emotionless replaced humans easily infiltrate between to almost emotionless soldiers. War has made them dead inside. This is what Ferrara wants to tell us, but he puts the focus more on Marti and het little brother, something most horror movies do as they’re mostly targeted at a teenage crowd who need a central character they can identify themselves with.
The fact that “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” keeps being remade (the latest one being 2007’s “The Invasion”) is funny. As if the movie itself keeps on snatching: “Invasion Of The Movie Snatchers”.