They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next, You’re next…!
One day my family and I were driving home from somewhere, and my mom pointed to a house on our street and said how much she hated going by it. I asked her why, and she said the big pods on their tree made her think of the film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and how the pod people came for everyone.
I had no idea what she was talking about as I had never seen the film before.
A couple of years later, I was at a yard sale (the same one where I found The Stepford Wives (1975), and I spotted this film. The whole conversation about the pod people and our neighbor’s tree came rushing back to me and I knew I needed to buy this film and watch it.
So first let me say, with a name like Invasion of the Body Snatchers how can you go wrong? I mean seriously, I love this movie. I watch it every year around this particular holiday. It is an amazing cinematic piece.
It is based on the book The Body Snatchers and has been remade twice, once in 1978 and again as The Invasion in 2008. It has also been parodied countless times, for instance in Archie’s Weird Mysteries: Attack of the Killer Spuds.
This film is a horror and sci-fi film, ranked #9 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Sci-Fi” in June 2008.
There are also numerous studies into it’s portrayal of women’s and men’s roles in the 1950s (of which I am going to ignore because I think a lot of what people write about on this is stupid) and the prevalent McCarthyism. Yes, it is time for a little history.
So two years ago when I reviewed The Crucible, I discussed a little bit on how Rather Miller took a historical subject and tried to show the negative effects McCarthyism had. How it created witch hunts and caused people to turn in friends to save themselves from losing everything; causing us to side and relate more to the accused witches then those who were “righteous” (the ministers and good townsfolk/Joe McCarthy). Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the flip side of that. In this it show how something can sneak into a town (Communism) and destroy everything we hold dear with its atheism, value of group over individual, etc.
Now enough with that, let’s watch the film!
I love the opening creepy music with the credits. I know I have said it in nearly every post, but truth is, I just can’t say that enough. These old movies really knew how to set atmosphere.
So we open with cars speeding all over and a man screaming.
We hear a siren as the cops pick up a man they believe to be a real loon. , a siren call the doctor as they believe they’ve found a real looney. The man says he is Dr. Miles J. Bennell,Kevin McCarthy, a doctor from Santa Mira, CA.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: I AM NOT INSANE!
[guards grab him]
Dr. Hill: Let him go!
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: Listen, Doctor, now you must listen to me, you must understand me, I’m a doctor too, I am not insane! I am NOT insane!
We then have a flashback as Dr. Miles is prepared to share his story.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: Well, it started, for me it started last Thursday, in response to an urgent message from my nurse I’d hurried home from a medical convention I’d been attending. At first glance, everything looked the same, it wasn’t, something evil had taken possession of the town.
His nurse Sally picks him up at the station and relays to him how so many patients have been coming in, they won’t say what is bothering them, but were all willing to forgo seeing another doctor, instead waiting on him to return.
Becky Driscoll, Dr. Miles old high school and college sweetheart is one of the people who came to see him. Miles is surprised she is here as she married five years ago and moved to England with her husband, never visiting. He is also pleased as he still is interested in her. what she doing back?
As they are driving to the office, they almost hit a little boy. It is Jimmy Grimaldi, who would rather risk getting hit by a car than face whatever he is running from. When they stop him, his mom says it is because he is afraid of school. He must really be afraid if he’s running in traffic to get away.
Dr. Miles doesn’t think much of it. He heads on to his office and when he gets there he and Nurse Sally discover that there are six canceled appointments. Nurse Sally finds this so strange as they were begging to be seen.
Nurse Sally feel bad for calling him when it seems he is no longer needed. Dr. Miles looks outside the window and sees Santa Mira the same as usual.
Becky Driscoll, Dr. Miles’ old sweetheart, comes to see him. She is calling on him for help with her cousin Wilma. She doesn’t believe her uncle is really her uncle. Becky visited him and sees no difference, but Wilma insists he is not the same man.
Dr. Miles finds it odd, but is actually more interested in Becky and what has been going on in her life. Becky has recently returned home after a stint in Reno. Surprisingly, Miles was there not to long ago himself. And back then, Reno was code for D-I-V-O-R-C-E. Becky left her husband, for reasons unexplained. Miles lost his wife due to him being a very busy, doctor.
Miles runs into little Jimmy as he is walking home. This time he is with his grandma who reveals that Jimmy’s mother was lying earlier. Jimmy isn’t afraid of school, but his mom. He says she isn’t the same person.
Grandma Grimaldi: School isn’t what upsets him, it’s my daughter-in-law. He’s got the craziest idea she isn’t his mother.
Jimmy Grimaldi: [in hysterics] She isn’t! She isn’t! Don’t let her get me!
Dr. Miles doesn’t think much of it. Kids always have stages where they are running from home or hate their parents. He gives a sedative, and tells the grandma to keep him for the night.
Yes, present day Dr. Miles is mentally kicking himself for not realizing the sings and seeing that things were not right.
While he doesn’t think it is too serious, Dr. Miles decides to investigate Wilma’s case, He sees and speaks to Ira, completely certain that it is Ira. But Wilma still isn’t convinced it is him. He acts like Ira, looks like Ira, knows everything about Ira and her, but there is something missing. Almost like the love between them is gone.
Wilma is afraid she is going crazy, but Dr. Miles calms her down. He wants her to see a psychiatrist, not because she is insane, but because there might be a deeper issue here. you aren’t.
When he leaves, Dr. Miles finds everything very odd. Sick people wanting to see me, suddenly “well” , little boy saying his mom isn’t his mom; and a niece saying her uncle not uncle.
That night Becky and Miles make plans for dinner. When walking into the restaurant, they bump into two other doctors in the parking lot. One a psychiatrist, Dr. Dan ‘Danny’ Kauffman. He shares what is going on, and Dr. Danny says that the whole town is experiencing the same type of “mass hysteria”. Miles finds this strange, what could be causing a whole town to act that way?
They go in for dinner, but there is no one in the restaurant. It used to be packed out everyday, but now no one is going out. Strange. Before they can eat, Jack Belicec calls saying it is an emergency.
When he gets there, Jack and wife Teddy aren’t sick. Why would they call?
Jack Belicec: Will you be able to quit being a doctor for a while?
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: Why?
Jack Belicec: I don’t want you to call the police right away.
They go in side. I love this scene. The way it is shot, the way it is set up in lighting, the actors, oooh it is a favorite of mine.
Miles looks on the table Pulls sheet off dun dun dun aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He studies the body on the table.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: Who is he?
Jack Belicec: I have no idea.
There is no face really, it’s as if they have all the parts but no details, no lines, no character, bland, no fingerprints, as if he is not completed. Like a dummy or a mannequin.
Jack Belicec: Like it is waiting for the final face to be stamped on
Teddy Belicec: But who’s face?! Who’s Face?!!! [After she’s had a drink] Who’s face Miles?
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: I don’t know.
Teddy Belicec: How tall would you say he is?
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: About 5’10.
Teddy Belicec: And how much does he weigh?
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: 140 lbs
Teddy Belicec: Jack’s 5’10 and weighs 140 lbs.
Jack is startled by this and cuts his hand on a glass. Jack thinks it is nonsense to believe that thing wants to be him, but Teddy is freaked out and scared.
Becky wants to call the police, but Miles doesn’t as he doesn’t know what to say. He wonders if it is connected to everything else weird that has been going on, what the psychologist called mass hysteria.
Jack stays up to watch what this guy will do, deciding to call the police if nothing happens, and if something does, call Miles.
Miles takes Becky home. He hides it from her as doesn’t want to worry her, but he is scared.
Mass hysteria does not explain that body.
He drops Becky off and goes in for the kiss, when Becky’s dad comes up the stairs. Why is he in the basement so late at night? He says doing things in his shop, but that’s kind of unusual.
Jack falls asleep when keeping vigil and Teddy goes over to look at the body. It now looks just like Jack, even down to the scratch. It starts to move and she freaks out, both running out to see Miles.
They then call Dr. Danny. When he answers the phone he seems really reluctant to come. It’s so weird as if the doctor was calling in the night, for something, you know it has to be serious. Miles is about to make coffee when Jack asks if Becky is okay.
Miles passes his open basement and knows. He doesn’t know how or why, but he knows something was going on in Becky’s basement, her dad is somehow involved, and he must save her!
Miles rushes over and breaks into the house. He goes around the basement, and finds a body that looks like Becky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He creeps upstairs, searching for her room. He tries to wake her up, but she is in too deep of sleep so he carries her out the door.
At Miles’ house they talk to Dr. Danny, but he doesn’t believe them. He needs to see one of the “bodies”. They go back to Jack’s house, but find nothing. Only a blood spot. Danny keeps going on about how rational everything could be. A person killed, no fingerprints because took them off with acid, etc. Miles angry that he is not listening! IT IS NOT A REGULAR BODY!!!!!
They all head over to Becky’s house, and sneak down in the basement, but there is nothing there. Dr. Danny thinks it is all in their minds
The cops come, as Becky’s dad called them. He yells at them for not reporting a body. They try to to tell him it was a different body, but he shuts them up saying he’s just seen it. And then goes on to describe the body, using everything that Dr. Danny said.
Now that is really odd. How did he know that was the body they found? And how did he know exactly what the psychologist said to explain the strangeness of the body. It is as if the two are connected or reading from the same script. Very odd, very, very, very odd indeed.
They all go home convinced that it is nothing after all. The next day, Becky is making breakfast when they hear a big thumping in the basement. It is the gas man.
Becky and Miles are growing closer together, but interrupted by Jack and Teddy who had also stayed the night. Jack and Teddy ask to stay for a few more days as they are both still a bit freaked.
Miles is walking to his office when he is stopped by Wilma. She says not to worry as she is completely recovered from whatever she thought was going on with her uncle Ira. She woke up this morning completely fine. He tells her to call Becky at his house and relay the good news.
When he gets to his office he has another surprise, in the reception room little Jimmy is with his mother, happy and well.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: [voice-over narration] But driving home I had a lot of questions and no answers. How could Jimmy and Wilma be so normal now. Surely I had done nothing to cure them. Maybe they wanted me to feel secure but why?
Miles comes home to a BBQ. They are trying to grill steaks but the grill won’t light right so Miles goes into the greenhouse to get something. There we see the pods!!!!!!!!! They are cracking open and reveal bodies inside!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He goes back to put the gas lighter away and sees them!!!!!!!! He starts creaming for Jack, and all come over. They start looking at them when Miles, being a doctor he has an analytical mind, starts theorizing that they must be from another place, another planet. They copy people and then terminate the original.
Jack want to destroy them all but Miles stops him, as there is no danger right away. Teddy points out, the body didn’t change until Jack fell asleep.
That’s right, the original Nightmare on Elm Street, warning you don’t fall asleep.
Are alien pod people scarier then him? I’d have to say yes.
Teddy asks if there is any difference between orginal and copy. There is as the emotions aren’t quite right. Jimmy’s mother, Wilma’s Uncle, Becky’s dad….
Miles believes they can stop it. They just need to make some calls and them check every building and person in Santa Mira. But that’s when Miles realizes, it is too late for Santa Mira. He thinks about the way the police acted, Danny the psychologist….they are all a part of it.
He goes to the operator and tries to call the FBI in Los Angeles, but the switchboard tells him they are not answering. In fact, all Los Angeles circuits are dead. They try Sacramento, but all are busy. They will call him back.
They got to the telephone operators!!!
Miles makes a new plan. He wants Jack and Teddy to head out of town and get help. He has to stay because they will call back, and if he isn’t there, they will end up blocking the roads. Jack doesn’t want to leave, but Miles urges him on, that he is their only hope.
Becky stay with Miles, waiting by the phone as Miles destroys the pods. After that, Miles realizing they can’t wait around, they need to get out of there too. He stops to get gas, and tries to call on a pay phone, when he sees the gas operator putting something in his trunk!
Pods! He’s in on it too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They drive a little, stop, and then toss them out, Miles lighting them up with a flare. He continues to see his Nurse Sally. But it is too late, she has been turned. The police chief is also there, waiting.
Miles and Becky take off, with a APB put out on them and everyone on the look out for Miles and Becky. They are the only normal ones left in the whole town!!!!!!
Miles and Becky drop the car off in a used car lot, and run to his office.
There they take some drugs to stay awake as they wait for Jack and Teddy to save them all. The phone keeps ringing in his office, as the two are waiting. But they don’t answer as they know it is the town looking for them.
The next morning they see everyone out in about in the town, being “normal”, but it is 7:30 in the morning. Way too much activity for this early. They see that the cops have been waiting for the bus to arrive, taking any newcomers away to pod them up.
Trucks come in, all farm family trucks, the ones who closed down their stalls and such. They stopped growing real food and are growing pods, preparing to take them to the surrounding towns. An INVASION!!!!
Miles, I cant wait any longer preparing to help. Becky doesn’t want him to go, and as two are arguing, the door handle is twisting!!!!
They hear Jack, and open it to let him in, he being followed by the psychologist. Too late, as he was captured and has been turned too. Everyone has been except Miles & Becky. They tell him not to fight it but, join them.
Dr. Dan ‘Danny’ Kauffman: Love, desire, ambition, faith – without them, life’s so simple, believe me.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: I don’t want any part of it.
Dr. Dan ‘Danny’ Kauffman: You’re forgetting something, Miles.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: What’s that?
Dr. Dan ‘Danny’ Kauffman: You have no choice.
They lock them up in a room with the pods in the others, waiting until they finally fall asleep. Miles grabs a knife, but quickly throws that idea away as he is not enough to go against three. Becky is prepared to help, two against three; but Miles has come up with a new plan. He locks one door, and then goes around, surprising them and stabbing them with needles full of drugs. When the third one comes in, the cop, Becky takes him down.
They try to sneak out the back door, but it padlocked. They go out the front, pretending to be emotionless zombies.
However, Becky ends up giving it away, when she sees a dog almost get hit by a car.
So a lot of people go on about how this film is supposedly saying that because Becky is a woman she isn’t capable of being able to pull of this emotionless act and ruins their cover, unlike Miles because he is a “man.” Well I don’t think that is true at all. These people are forgetting Miles is a Doctor. He is someone who has to deal with death a lot, so he has the ability to compartmentalize, and withhold his feelings. Becky is unable to, not because she is “the weaker sex” or because she is “how a woman is supposed to be in the ’50s”; but because she hasn’t had that training. She hasn’t had to face death or stressful situations like Dr. Miles, so she doesn’t have that cuplability to push down everything.
The police officer is suspicious of Becky’s behavior and investigate’s Miles office. When he finds the men there, he turns on the alarm. And the whole town chases after Miles and Becky.
Miles and Becky are trying to run to the highway, having to hike to it. Poor Becky, she’s wearing heels. That has got to be so tough, and it;s not like you can take them off, being shoeless would be way worse.
Becky is so tired, that Miles has to carry her to a mine shaft, where they will wait a bit. They find some loose floorboards, and hide underneath them until the townsfolk have passed over.
These two are dirty, sweaty, stinky, and look crazy. Becky and Miles are so tired, using water to stay awake. Then they hear something outside.
The town is playing a soft, beautiful lullaby, trying to get them to fall asleep.
Miles leaves Becky to investigate the song. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t leave her!!!!!!!
Becky is so tired, trying not to fall asleep. Miles spots the music coming from a truck carrying pods. He goes back to Becky.
He finds Becky tired, eyes closed!!! He tries carryoing her, but falls. They are on the ground, he kisses her when…dun dun dun….
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: I’ve been afraid a lot of times in my life, but I didn’t know the real meaning of fear until… until I had kissed Becky.
I love that line so much. It makes me laugh, while the same time making me very afraid.
Becky is a pod person and screams out to all the others to come.
So I’m going to stop for a second and go off on two separate thoughts.
How Did Becky Become a Pod Person if She Wasn’t Near a Pod?
This has always bothered me. I have thought on it, and thought on it, and thought on it, and I finally think I have figured it all out. So Becky has had four attempted pod people forms made of her. The first we see was in the basement of her house when Miles comes over to investigate. When he calls the psychologist, and they realize he is on to them, they destroy it. Better to destroy it then have Miles find it and leave or do something else that poses a threat to them. The second time is when they put the pods in Miles’ greenhouse. But that form didn’t last as Miles destroyed it with the pitchfork. The third attempted form was the ones they put in Miles’ trunk but he destroyed those with the flare. Now the fourth was when they caught the two in Miles’ office. When Becky and Miles are taking out the three guards they don’t destroy the pods. That means there are a Miles and Becky form just waiting for the two to fall asleep and take their brain. So when Becky falls asleep in the cave, the Becky pod is created.
Now the pod body form doesn’t come to life and kill the original like we’ve been imagining. It is much scarier, as it is transferred over into that body, leaving everything the same but the mind. Almost like a parasite taking over the host.
Now to the second thing, people always say that because Becky is a woman she of course is the weaker one that gives in to sleep. I of course want to bring everyone back to the fact that Miles is a doctor! Why do you think Jack was unable to overcome it? Because he is writer and isn’t used to the stressful scenes that Miles has had to deal with. He is the only doctor for a small town, so you know there has to be days he doesn’t sleep, when he is called all over. He is just better trained becuse of his occupation. It isn’t because he is a “man”.
Anyways, back to the film. Miles keeps running, as fast as he can to warn others. He finally reaches the highway. The pod people stopping as they know no one will believe him.
Miles runs around trying to warn everyone about what is happening, and of course no one stops.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next, You’re next…!
And as he sounds crazy, he gets carted off to the police where the psychiatrist is trying to figure out whether he should take him to the insane asylum or not.
Now THIS IS THE SCARIEST THING about this film. I mean take a minute and stop and think about this. Imagine if your school was taken over and filled with pod people, your work, you home, your street, your town, your suburb, your city, etc. And YOU KNEW IT and YOU were the ONLY ONE LEFT. Where could you go that someone wold believe you? Nowhere. Everyone would think you are crazy, and of course it is only a matter of time until you crash, fall asleep, and become a pod person yourself. That is if they don’t inject you with a sedative first.
This was were the director originally wanted to end the film. The studio didn’t like it though. Now I love the film how it is but I do think it would have been pretty cool to end it here.
So they think they Miles is crazy and are preparing to lock him up. Just before they do that, a man comes in who was injured in a car accident. He might not make it as it took forever to get him out from under some weird seed pods. Dr. Hill comes running out, where was the truck coming from? Santa Mira. Dr. Hill realizes that Miles is telling the truth and gets the police and the FBI after it. The credits end on Miles who is thinking, hoping it might be over and he can go to sleep.
I love that movie. It is so awesome. If you haven’t watched it, do so. The cinematography and story is just amazing.
To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It Has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
For the previous post, go to A Book Considered Too Dangerous to Keep: The Magician’s Nephew, Midsomer Murders (2008)
For more on aliens, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)
For more on things that look like you, but aren’t you, go to They’ll Be Somebody With My Name…But She Won’t Be Me!: The Stepford Wives (1975)