Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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Look, you fools. You're in danger. Can't you see? They're after you. They're after all of us. Our wives, our children, everyone. They're here already. YOU'RE NEXT!
Benell's last words.

A classic sci-fi/horror film from 1956, adapted from Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers and directed by Don Siegel.

Miles Benell is a doctor in the small town of Santa Mira whose patients start accusing their family and friends of being impostors. They can't explain their suspicions -- there are no physical or behavioral changes -- but they are still convinced that the people they suspect are no longer themselves. Bennell and his colleague, Kaufman, initially assume this is merely mass hysteria, a diagnosis which seems to be confirmed when the patients start recanting their accusations.

However, Benell soon discovers that the patients were right. The people of Santa Mira are being replaced by alien doppelgangers, identical duplicates grown in pods, which replaced them while they slept. Behind their perfect mimicry of humanity, including emotions, is a soulless void. The pod people have no culture of their own, only what they have copied from humanity, and they have no goal beyond survival.

The film ends with Benell, who has just had to kill his love interest's doppelganger, screaming a warning to heedless motorists.

A relatively happy ending, in which it's implied that the FBI will stop the invasion, was added to the film by meddling executives, but is now usually omitted. In the original book, the pods eventually give up, frustrated by human determination, but in the film the ending seems truly hopeless.

Usually interpreted as a metaphor for Communism, although some view it more as an indictment of McCarthyism and small-town insularity and conformity. There have been several homages and three remakes:

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
  • Body Snatchers (1993) was a gender flipped (and teenage) version set on an Army base starring Gabrielle Anwar. More personally focused than the earlier versions; significantly the heroine's step-mother is one of the first to be duplicated and the family dynamic plays a big part in the movie. The film also got some mileage from its military setting and the fact that the protagonist herself was already somewhat detached from the community.
  • The Invasion (2007), another Gender Flip version with Nicole Kidman is regarded by most as being the worst of the lot - amongst many changes they dropped the idea of alien replacements entirely going for a simple (and reversible) version of The Virus.
Tropes used in Invasion of the Body Snatchers include: