Fright vs. Fright is a series of comparisons between classic horror films and the lesser-known works that inspired them, or subsequent remakes that stand on their own merits.
The Film: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Good, The Bad, The Indifferent: Invasion of the Body Snatchers is about as good as 1950s horror/sci-fi gets. There's not a lot of "guilty pleasure" here — this is lean, taut storytelling that is maybe not as visceral today as it would have been in 1956, but is no less thought-provoking. That this movie can be claimed as both a tacit endorsement of McCarthy-ite Red Scare paranoia and a rejection of that very same ideology speaks to how engaging it is. The filmmakers all went to their graves insisting that there was no political motivation or didactic intent behind the film, but there's no denying that it is a product of its zeitgeist. Can we be saved from the threat of secret Communist infiltration? Or, can we be saved from the reactionary forces in control that insist on homogeneity? This is in many ways the best of genre storytelling — a metaphorical treatment of existential forces that a society is wrestling with.
Fun bit of connective tissue: Carolyn Jones (later Morticia Addams), was in last week's installment, House of Wax, and also plays Teddy Belicec in this movie.
Remade As: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Worth a Watch? Absolutely. I think it's hard to go wrong with either of these two versions. There are more versions out there, but these two I can recommend without reservation.
Posted by Vance K — cult film reviewer and co-editor of nerds of a feather, flock together since 2012. Perennial watcher of dozens of horror movies each October. Not a pod person. As far as you know.