Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Body Snatchers (1993)

This was apparently Roger Ebert's favourite adaptation of Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers.  I prefer the 1978 version myself, but I'd definitely call this a strong second.  Or third, if you want to count The Faculty, though that's not officially an adaptation of Finney's story, nor of Robert Heinlein's similar-and-earlier Puppet Masters, both of which it name-checks.

Teenager Marti, her dad, stepmom and much younger half-brother arrive at a military base where Marti's dad will be doing some work for the EPA.  It seems there are toxic chemicals stored at the site, and the EPA wants to make sure there are no unexpected leaks.

Leaks there may not be, but there are certainly unexpected things afoot at the base.  Marti gets an intimation of this when she's accosted by a wild-eyed soldier who threatens her with a knife, then releases her when he sees that she is scared, while ranting that "they get you when you sleep".

Now look, this is a Body Snatchers film, so obviously what's going on is alien replicants taking the place of the human beings on the base.  Pretty much the only way to spot the aliens; unless you walk in on one in the middle of absorbing its human counterpart; is by the fact that they possess no emotions.

Of course, that means that if you display any emotions, they'll know you're not one of them.  And it's pretty hard to stay poker-faced when aliens are trying to consume your body and take over your life.

This adaptation sets a much faster narrative pace than the 1978 version, being a good twenty minutes shorter.  That gives less time to establish that whole sense of creepiness and wrongness that pervades the earlier film.  This offering also features a lot more in the way of action sequences, too, so tonally it's quite different.  Not that the film eschews scares and creepiness completely, of course.  I mean it is a film about your identity and individuality being stolen from you, and that's bound to be a bit creepy.

If the basic "alien infiltration" premise appeals, this is definitely a film worth checking it.  Yes, even if you have seen the 1978 film.  They're different enough that I think they can both be enjoyed on their own merits.

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