Thursday, March 18, 2010

Film #17: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

The people of Santa Mira are such posers.
In the 90s, everyone in town was wearing flannel shirts, cords and cutting themselves to Bad Religion albums.
Then just a few years ago, all the dudes started twi-tarding their hair ala Robert Pussyson, and the ladies began rocking diamond grills and top hats.

Don’t even get me started on what happened to Santa Mirans in the 1950s, when sky-born alien seeds crashed into town and started growing pods that produced exact, soulless, replications of the townsfolk. Even the aliens that inhabit Santa Mira become posers!

Most of the town’s folk succumb quickly to the alien homogenization, but Dr. Miles Bennell won’t have it. He is an individual, see. A free spirit, who lives by his own rules and spits in the butt of the man, man.
It all started when Miles left his small Californian town to attend a medical convention. After only a few days, he is called urgently back due to the high number people coming into his office claiming a strange illness.

Upon his return, those who felt sick are now “just fine,” but others came into his office claiming their loved ones no longer seem like their loved ones. “Doctor, my wife was such a raging hormonal bitch just yesterday, but then this morning I wake up in bed and she is bringing me a feta omelet, Maxim Magazine, Makers Mark whiskey and a Taiwan foot massage. What gives?”
Sure, the townsfolk look the same, but something is different. Off.

At first this is chalked up to a mass delusion by Miles' head-shrinker friend. And that seems enough for him at first, due mostly to a little skirted distraction that saunters into his world. Wouldn’t you know it if a dame makes her way into the picture. Miles former girlfriend Becky had just returned to town, and swings by the lover boy’s medical practice with the hope of playing doctor.

The two go on a date, but are quickly called to the home of Miles’ friend Jack Belicec who found a seemly dead body lying in his home. Fishy thing is, the body has no distinguishing facial features or fingerprints, but is the exact height and weight of Jack. As time goes on, the corpse transforms into an exact copy of Jack’s ugly mug. Freaked, Jack, his wife, Becky and Miles hide out in Miles home, but soon find mysterious pods in Miles backyard that contain replications of the four friends – including Miles and Becky!

Seems these pods have the ability to grow an exact copy of a person, and when the time is right, promptly steals one’s mind upon the real Slim Shady going to sleep.
A nefarious alien world domination scheme is uncovered, and the sole survivors work to stop the spore-ification before it spreads across the country.
The peer pressure to conform is laid on thicker than middle school in the 1956 classic flick “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews:

C-Rating: 4.5
Chris Dimick shouts while running through the street:
“I’m going to read into this movie probably more than I should. After all, the writer and director have both said that Invasion of the Body Snatchers was meant as nothing more than a movie about killer aliens from outer space. But sometimes a well-crafted piece of art can break loose from its master, and take on a purpose not originally intended.
Several people can look at a painting and take away a different impression not intended by the artist. I feel this is the case with Body Snatchers.

You gotta love when a satirical premise hides within a horror movie. Scream flicks are supposed to be light and fun, and I respect that. But you don’t have to look hard in order for Body Snatchers to tell you a little something about humanity. Because of the release date, 1956, many people think Body Snatchers is a commentary on communism and the Cold War. I feel they are wrong -- that is not my view of the painting -- though I can see their point. The story is about a slowly advancing invasion, coming from within our own kind, which is set on ridding people of their individually, freedom of thought, and personal emotion, in order for everyone to be and act the same. A 1956 American’s idea of the threat of Communism, right?

To me, Body Snatchers’ point is much darker than the sickle and hammer. It is a story about the suburbanization of America. The loss of individually that comes from the pressure to conform to American idealism -- to have the biggest house, the nicest car, the prettiest wife, the smartest 2.5 kids and the greenest front yard.
One by one, the townspeople fall to the wishes of the group, losing first their individually, then their entire range of emotions in the process. At one point in the film, actor Kevin McCarthy (Miles) says “many people ordinarily allow their humanity to slip away, most don’t even mind.”

People are so miserable from having to keep up with everyone else, that it doesn’t even matter by the time they realize their race to conform has left them empty, devoid of personality, bland, and in a sense, without purpose. By conforming into pod people, or "suburbanities" according to the movie, they gave up everything unique about them. In a sense, they gave up their self.

All we have in this world, really, is our “self,” our thoughts, passions, loves, hates, really-hates (I’m angry a lot), and general interests. To me, Body Snatchers preaches that these simple things are really the most priceless aspects in our lives. To take those away, you might as well die.

As the exchange between a Pod Person and Miles goes, life isn’t worth living if you can’t live the good with the bad.
Pod Person: “Love, desire, ambition, faith - without them, life's so simple, believe me.
Miles: "I don't want any part of it."
Or take what Miles girlfriend, Becky (played by the stunning Dana Wynter) says when confronting the thought of becoming a pod person:
Becky: “I don't want to live in a world without love or grief or beauty, I'd rather die.”

Any movie that makes you think, just a little, about life is worth watching. What I took away from Body Snatchers was not a racing heart (no real scares by today’s standard) or a mind full of exciting action (conversation is the real star). No, what I got out of it was a reminder about life: appreciate what you already have, and feel equally fortunate when you experience love, loss, joy and pain. It is all part of the human experience. It reminds us: You are alive. So live.

N-Rating: 2.8
Nick Rich shouts while running through the street:
"Admittedly I didn't have an ideal viewing of IOTBS (my PC is in for repair and I had to watch it on my oooollllllddd laptop, so the image would freeze every few minutes while the sound trucked on), but this film didn't romance me in quite the way it did Chris. From his review, it seemed to me like it romanced Chris in a cerebral way, appealing to his intellect (Pod Person?), but for me it romanced my heart (my head is just such a distraction some times - for example, I kept seeing leading man Kevin McCarthy as I first encountered him)! In Chris's defense he had seen this film multiple times, while this was my first - and what a first it was!

Watching IOTBS was what I hope for from most films - a time capsule. Repeatedly while watching the sassy lines strolls by, the dry martinis flow in every situation and the casual pipe smoking while looking over a corpse I could feel myself sitting in a 1950's Drive-in watching this film in the hot summer night... that feeling is one of main reasons I watch movies, as a means of time travel. I didn't muse about the social implications of what the film was saying (I immediately chalked it up to commie hysteria and moved on), sure I could have, but I was simply enjoying the cruise through 1956 too much to bother...

And jeepers mister, did the 1950's ever have something to offer! The word 'causal' didn't exist! Everyone was dressed to the nines at all times - even in their sleepwear:

Ladies were comfortable wearing their hair shorter and showing off their necks (scandalous), even in a small town there were doctors for everything (including your brain thoughts!) and everyone was overly polite (even in extreme situations, i.e. finding a corpse in your house)! What a magical time... is it any wonder that I got wrapped up in it all? If anything I think I should be given a medal for fighting back against the Pod People with the only weapon we have against such a threat - our hearts!

The Skinny: check this flick out if you're in the mood to treat your lady to a nice evening out - rent a 1950's Chevy, find a vintage clothing store for threads and drive out to the country with a projector and watch this one on the side of a barn."

RDHP Salutes “Sassy Talk”
There is nothing the RDHP loves to hear more in older movies than a sexually charged, carefully worded dialog exchange between characters.
Movies had to watch their manners back in the day, which meant people couldn’t amp up the dirty talk when flirting with each other. “Hey, I like your dirty ass, wanna go up to my bang-chamber and f*$#” just wouldn’t fly in the olden days. Instead, subtly took over for vulgarity in characters’ discussions, resulting in talk that is much more titillating than if interlaced with f-bombs and other graphicness.

Here are a couple examples of what we like to call “sassy talk” exchanged between Miles and Becky in Invasion of the Body Snatchers:

Miles: "This is the oddest thing I've ever heard of. Let's hope we don't catch it. I'd hate to wake up some morning and find out that you weren't you."
Becky: [laughs] "I'm not the high school kid you use to romance, so how can you tell?"
Miles: "You really want to know?"
Becky: Mmm-hmm.
Miles: [after kissing her hard] "Mmmmmmm, you're Becky Driscoll, all right!"

Becky: "Is this an example of your bedside manner, doctor?"
Miles: "No, ma'am. That comes later."


Things the RDHP Learned from Watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers:
-Divorced men come “completely house-broken.”
-Don’t ever fall asleep. Body Snatchers will steal your mind.
-Brand new Dodge’s sell for $650. I knew Crisis-lyer was in trouble, but…
-Liquor solves a bad case of hysteria.
-Slapping little boys on the butt – totally cool in the 50s!
-A doctor’s wife needs "the intelligence of Einstein and the patience of a saint."

Look around you! The Body Snatchers are back and have replicated some of our most familiar faces. These fake, blank, dead behind the eyes, manufactured, soulless “people,” listed for your convenience below, must be stopped. You get the pitch-fork, and I’ll get the fire!

Nicole Kidman
Ironically she starred in the 2007 remake of Body Snatchers, which we feel was just a clever ploy to throw us off the truth. Looking into her eyes is like staring down I-94 in February. It is cold, lonely, and empty.
Pod Person, beyotch!

Tom Cruise
No one can just naturally be this overly smiley, dull, and weird. Sure, he could just be bonkers, but we think a simpler explanation is pod person take-over. Plus, he was once married to Kidman… it happened at the same time!
Busted! Pod Person!

Justin Bieber
This little happy bastard just looks like he was formed from a Body Snatcher pod… most likely planted in the Disney Vault. Look at those eyes. Nuthin’!
He’s a muther-grabbin’ Pod Person.

Ben Stein
Have you heard him TALK!?!?
Let's take attendance: Pod Person? Pod Person? Pod Person?
Pod Person!

Audrina Patridge:
Her life is full of consumerism. Her head is empty. She is meaningless, and her very existence brings down the collective intelligence of humanity. And just look at those dead eyes. THEY ARE SO DEAD!
This one’s a Pod Person, yo!

Shawn Johnson:
She’s totally a Pod Person. Just listen to this quote, imagining her tight-lipped, chipmunk voice: “hi,yeah,this one time I fell off my balance beam and cracked my naughty bone so hard, and now doctor says I’m no longer a little girl but a woman, and he had never seen someone take so much wood. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Uhhhhh Hi”

Sooooo a Pod Person.

Creepy Neighbor Dave
You see this guy every morning, standing in the middle of his lawn with dog and dog leash in hand, blankly staring off into the distance. Don’t look into his eyes, your soul will get sucked in. Sometimes he flashes a half-dead smile, but that just makes him even creepier.
Pod Person if I ever saw one!

Overly Nice Receptionist
Sure, she says hi to you every morning with a blank expression and “Black-hole Sun Video” like smile on her spackled lips, but you know right after that she gets back to making her office kill list and drinking kitten blood from that “Hang in there, baby” coffee mug.
She-boom! She’s a Pod Person!

I-Pod People
They have no distinguishing features. They are soulless automatons. And the frigging words Pod People are in their name. Need we say more?
They are friggin’ Pod People!

The REAL Origins of the Pod People:
You don’t believe everything the government spoon-feeds you, do you? Sure, they told us the Pod People came from intergalactic space seeds which crashed into the earth’s soil and grew pea-looking pods that had the ability to replicate humans. But we've heard that story a thousand times.

The true believers know these pods came not from outer space, but from that son-of-a-bitch veggie mutant… THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT:

Prophetic Warnings the RDHP have Screamed in Highway Traffic:
-The cast of the Golden Girls has reunited for a sex tape. All the cast members!
-Pink is the new Black!
-I just saved hundreds on my car insurance by switching to Geico!
-Beware! Brian Williams is the self-indulgent Anti-Christ!
-Shamrock Shakes allow McDonalds to control your Irish!
-Don't buy the oranges - your purchase won't be taxed!
-I’m bringing ugly back!
-The feds are listening through your molars!
-Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent is fake - don't be fooled, DON'T BE FOOLED!!!
-Muhammad is coming! Look busy!

No comments:

Post a Comment