"People are being duplicated. And once it happens to you, you're part of this... thing."
Elizabeth Driscoll
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) 002
Title: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Directed by: Philip Kaufman
Written by: W.D. Richter
Jack Finney
Produced by: Robert H. Solo
Music by: Denny Zeitlin
Cinematography: Michael Chapman
Edited by: Douglas Stewart
Distributed by: United Artists
Released: December 20th, 1978
Rating: PG
Running time: 115 min.
Country: USA
Language: English
Budget: $3,500,000
Gross: $24,946,533

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1978 sci-fi/horror film directed by Philip Kaufman. It is a remake of the 1956 classic film Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. Both films are adaptations of author Jack Finney's 1955 novel The Body Snatchers. Another iteration of the film was produced in 2007 simply titled Invasion. The plot centers around San Francisco biologist Elizabeth Driscoll who turns to health inspector Matthew Bennell for help when her live-in boyfriend begins acting odd and distant. Matthew and Elizabeth notice that suddenly almost everyone around them has become impassive. When their friends discover a developing doppelgänger in their commercial mud baths, the foursome realize an alien invasion is under way.

Plot Edit

Alien worlds

An alien world

On a distant planet, a gelatinous non-sentient race of alien life form departs their barren world and rides the solar winds to a new destination. These parasitic creatures travel through space until ultimately landing on the planet Earth. Microscopic in size, these organisms cross-pollinate with the local plant life and begin growing into small pods.

In the city of San Francisco, health inspector Matthew Bennell makes a stop at a posh French restaurant. The proprietor brings him through the kitchen where Bennell identifies a "rat turd" cooking inside a vat of stew. He threatens to revoke the restaurant's license and leaves. Getting to his car, he finds spider web cracks across his windshield and the broken remains of a wine bottle across the hood. He drives home and telephones his colleague, Elizabeth Driscoll.

Elizabeth is a microbiologist who lives with her dentist boyfriend Geoffrey Howell. She discovers a rare breed of plant known as a Grex and brings it home. She tries to show it to Geoffrey, but he is too involved in a basketball game. She places the Grex in some water and leaves it by the nightstand on Geoffrey's side of the bed. Later, she receives Matthew's telephone call and agrees to come in to the office early to go over some samples.

What Elizabeth and Geoffrey don't realize is that the Grex is infected with one of the alien organisms. The organism chooses Geoffrey as its target and replicates his body. The act of sleeping serves as the catalyst by which this process takes place. The following morning, Elizabeth awakens late and sees Geoffrey cleaning up some broken glass off the floor. Apparently he had knocked the glass containing the plant over. He is very cold and dispassionate and Elizabeth immediately recognizes that something is wrong. She follows Geoffrey outside and watches him dump the garbage into a street-side trash truck.

She goes in to the office and meets with Matthew who invites her over for dinner after work. When she arrives, she tells him about Geoffrey's strange behavior and is gravely concerned. She states that "Geoffrey is not Geoffrey". As they eat, Matthew recommends seeing a psychiatrist friend of his named David Kibner.

The following day, Matthew stops by a dry cleaner to drop off his shirts. One of the co-owners, Mister Teng, asks if he is a doctor. Matthew tells him no, but Mister Teng expresses his concerns about his wife, saying that there is something wrong with her, but he cannot determine exactly what.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth spends the day following her boyfriend. She spies on him at his office and finds Geoffrey congregating with a strange group of people. She follows the group as they walk throughout the city for a series of meetings with even larger groups of people. She doesn't recognize any of them, but their strange behavior frightens her. Walking back home, she takes note of various people throughout the city and knows that something is dreadfully wrong. People exchange wordless glances with one another as if they were all sharing in some great, communal secret. The anxiety of this notion eventually overwhelms Elizabeth and she seeks solace in the arms of Matthew Bennell.

Hit and run

Hit and run

Matthew tells her that he is taking her to see Doctor Kibner. Elizabeth doesn't want to go, but complies nonetheless. As it turns out, Kibner is something of a local celebrity and is attending a book signing at a nearby store. As they drive down Leavenworth and Turk, they come upon a panic-stricken man who throws himself at the window of Matthew's car. The man screams "They're coming! They're coming!", then runs down the street where he is struck and killed by a motorist. Matthew knows there is a telephone at the book store and tells Elizabeth that he will call the police once they get there.

The book store is filled with people waiting to meet Doctor David Kibner - the celebrity psychiatrist. One of his contemporaries, a disgruntled and drunken poet named Jack Bellicec posits that Kibner's book is pure garbage. Jack is also a friend of Matthew and tries to voice his frustrations to him while Matthew is on the phone with the police.

One of the women present, Katherine Hendley, tearfully approaches Doctor Kibner. She claims that her husband Ted is not really her husband. Kibner embraces her and offers consoling words. Elizabeth takes note of the episode and recognizes the similarities between Hendley's crisis and her own. She gives Katherine her name and tells her she understands. She then addresses Doctor Kibner, echoing the same sentiments as those of Mrs. Hendley. Kibner takes Elizabeth and Matthew outside and tells them that he has been hearing similar tales from at least six different patients. He attributes the behavioral phenomenon to those seeking to shirk responsibilities and commitments.

Later, Jack Bellicec returns to the Bellicec Mud Baths spa that he co-owns with his wife Nancy. Nancy administers care to one of their clients, a portly man named Stan. Afterward, she converses with another patient, Mister Gianni, and thanks him for the exotic plant that he brought her a week ago. Gianni smiles wanly then leaves.

Jack's Changeling

Jack's Changeling

Shortly thereafter, Nancy goes into one of the stalls where she believes Jack is taking a nap. She draws back the bed sheet revealing a humanoid plant-like being lying on the table. The body is covered with white tendrils and a viscous substance that bears features vaguely similar to Jack. Nancy screams and Jack runs into the stall. His nose is bleeding. Frightened and unsure what to do, they decide to contact Matthew Bennell.

Matthew comes over and performs a cursory inspection of the body. He notes that even though it has the proportions of an adult male, it appears to be more akin to a fetus. Staring at the unmoving creature, Matthew realizes that everything that Nancy had been telling him must be true. He tells the Bellicecs to call Doctor Kibner while he drives off to find Elizabeth.

Matthew arrives at Elizabeth's home, but the door is locked. Looking through the window, he sees Geoffrey sitting in a chair listening to headphones. Matthew breaks inside and finds a duplicate of Nancy lying unconscious amongst a bunch of potted plants. He runs into the bedroom and finds the real Elizabeth asleep. He tries to rouse her, but she won't wake up, so Matthew picks her up and takes her outside. He puts her in the car and drives off. Geoffrey goes to the window and watches them leave.

At the spa, Doctor Kibner arrives and Jack and Nancy tell him about the body. When Kibner goes to inspect the booths however, the body is gone. They insist that a body was there and Jack quickly grows angry with him. Nancy finds an open window. Matthew arrives and recounts his experience at Elizabeth's house. He tells Jack and Nancy to take her back to his own house for safety. He then goes outside to speak with David. Kibner tells Matthew that he believes his story although he finds it to be completely fantastic.

Matthew telephones the police again to file a report on the duplicate body he discovered at Geoffrey's house. David and he drive over there to meet with the police, but when they arrive, the duplicate of Elizabeth is gone. Matthew grows increasingly frustrated and tries to explain himself to the police officers, but he only succeeds in making himself sound crazy. During the conversation, Kibner lets it slip in front of Geoffrey that Elizabeth is at Matthew's house.

In the days that follow, Matthew tries to spread the news to as many government agencies as possible. During the frenzied exchange in telephone calls however, one ubiquitous sentiment is repeated over and over: do not tell people that there are imposters loose in San Francisco. Both Matthew and Elizabeth begin to notice more examples of people being supplanted by duplicates including Katherine Hendley and Mister Teng at the dry cleaners.

Pod People 001

Birth of the Pod people.

They retire back to Matthew's house with David, Jack and Nancy to discuss their own theories as to what is going on. Elizabeth determines that the strange flowers that have been suddenly blooming all over the city are luring people in through their fragrance and transmitting alien spores. Although she is actually correct, Jack scoffs at the notion of "space flowers". David gives Elizabeth a sedative to help her sleep. He then goes out to his car and meets up with Geoffrey Howell and Ted Hendley. Doctor Kibner is one of the pod people. Matthew invites Jack and Nancy to stay at his place for the evening.

Matthew goes out into the back yard to sit and collect his thoughts. As time passes, he falls asleep in his chair. Four large pods begin growing in the fauna at his feet. The pods bloom giant pink flowers and then open up, disgorging clone duplicates of the house's four residents. As Matthew's double begins to take form, the skin on Matthew's face begins to disintegrate. Nancy comes out and sees what is taking place and screams for Matthew to wake up. Matthew awakens and screams for everyone to get up and evacuate the house. Matthew stays behind to destroy the body snatchers before they can fully appropriate their new forms. As he hacks away at his double with a shovel, the death of the creature summons forth other pod people. They emit a high-pitched screech as they seem to empathically sense the death of one of their own.

Matthew catches up to the others as the pod people attempt to barricade the property. They manage to get past them and run down the city streets. Doppelgängers pour out in droves and begin pursuing them. Even police vehicles and helicopters search the neighborhood for any sign of the four survivors. Realizing that they are surrounded, Jack decides on a desperate gamble. He runs off in one direction shouting and drawing the body snatchers' attention, enabling Matthew, Elizabeth and Nancy the chance to run and hide. Nancy cannot bear to be without her husband and runs off after him. Matthew and Elizabeth take off in another direction.

Trying their best to blend in with the others, Matthew and Elizabeth hail a taxicab and have him drive them towards the airport. The cab driver is a pod person and radios his dispatch office to tell them that he is transporting two Type-H (human) passengers. He drives them directly into a police blockade. Once they realize that the driver has been compromised, Matthew and Elizabeth make a hasty retreat from the cab.

Harry the Dog Man

Harry the dog man

As they run, they come upon a street musician named Harry and his boxer, Pooch. They are asleep on the ground next ot a pod. Matthew kicks the pod and it begins bleeding. They run back to the Health Department office and take refuge in Doctor Boccardo's office. Looking outside the window they see dozens of people loading pods into trucks. Knowing that they need to stay awake or else succumb to the assimilation process they begin swallowing speed pills. Suddenly, David Kibner, Jack Bellicec, Geoffrey Howell and several others come into the room. They are all pod people now. They apprehend Matthew and Elizabeth and give them both sedatives. Kibner assures them that everything will be fine. They will be just as they were before with the same memories, the same possessions and the same lifestyles. They are simply evolving. The two would-be victims decide to fight back however. Elizabeth smashes David across the back of the head with a bottle while Matthew stabs Geoffrey in the neck with a dart. He then secures their bodies inside of a freezer.

They descend the steps of the building and run into Nancy. Fortunately, she seems to be okay. She tells them that she lost Jack when they got separated. Matthew doesn't have the heart to tell her that Jack is now a pod person. Nancy tells them that the pods can be fooled. If you resist showing any emotions, you can move about them undetected. They begin moving through the streets, but lost track of Nancy once again. They come upon Harry's boxer dog, which is now clearly a pod. However the pod that Matthew damaged yielded a mutagenic affect, assimilating both Harry and the dog into a composite organism. They keep running.

Matthew Bennell 002

Shrieking with the enemy.

They eventually make their way to a factory where people are growing pods in mass numbers. They are loading them onto trucks and taking them to a nearby shipyard to be transported overseas. Matthew leaves Elizabeth alone for a moment so he can scout out the transport ships. He thinks that they might be able to use them to escape. When he returns however, he finds Elizabeth asleep. He tries to wake her up, but it is too late. She disintegrates before his eyes. A duplicate of Elizabeth rises in the woods behind him, beckoning him to come join her. Matthew runs away.

He runs inside the factory warehouse where the people are growing the pods. He ascends a catwalk, takes an axe and begins cutting away at strings of lights suspended over the factory floor. As the electric lines fall, they land on the tables igniting chemicals and pods. The Elizabeth duplicate enters the factory and points at Matthew, screeching in the body snatcher alien tongue. He finishes cutting down the electric lines and runs off. The pod people begin chasing after him, but Matthew gets away.

The following day, Matthew returns to work. Everything around him appears to be normal, but it is clear that the entire city has been subverted by pod people. The Elizabeth doppelgänger sits at her work station, but says nothing. After work, Matthew leaves with everyone else and walks across the street towards City Hall. On the street corner, Nancy Bellicec steps forward. She is still alive and still human. She calls out to Matthew, but when he sees her, he opens his mouth, screeches and points his finger, alerting the others. Matthew Bennell is now a pod person. Nancy screams in terror.

Cast Edit

Actor Role
Donald Sutherland Matthew Bennell
Brooke Adams Elizabeth Driscoll
Jeff Goldblum Jack Bellicec
Veronica Cartwright Nancy Bellicec
Leonard Nimoy Doctor David Kibner
Art Hindle Doctor Geoffrey Howell
Lelia Goldoni Katherine Hendley
Tom Luddy Ted Hendley
Stan Ritchie Stan
Joe Bellan Harry
Kevin McCarthy Doomsayer
Don Siegel Taxi driver
David Fisher Mister Gianni
Tom Dahlgren Detective
Garry Goodrow Doctor Boccardo
Jerry Walter Henri, the Restaurant owner
Maurice Argent Chef
Sam Conti Street barker
Wood Moy Mister Teng
R. Wong Mrs. Teng
Rose Kaufman Outraged woman
Sam Hiona Policeman #1
Lee McVeigh Policeman #2
Al Nalbandian Rodent man
Lee Mines School teacher
Michael Chapman Health department floor cleaner
Robert Duvall Priest on swing
Philip Kaufman City official on phone
Jeff Sheftel Pod person at party

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • The tagline for this film is, "The seed is planted..terror grows."
  • Has been made available on VHS, DVD and laserdisc.
  • Has a 97% fresh (approval) review rating at Rotten Tomatoes. [1]
  • Director Philip Kaufman makes a cameo appearance in Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a city official on a telephone.
  • Robert Duvall makes a cameo appearance as a priest on a swing at the beginning of the film. His stoic expression implies that he is the first person to be replaced by a body snatcher.
  • A headline from the San Francisco dispatch makes reference to high volumes of spider colonies falling from the sky, blanketing the city in spider webs. This is likely an early interpretation of witnesses attempting to explain off the arrival of the body snatchers in their natural state.
  • The taxi driver is played by Don Siegel, director of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
  • Cinematographer Michael Chapman makes a cameo appearance as a janitor at the San Francisco Health Department.
  • Elizabeth's subversion took place at an accelerated rate than that of the others. Doctor Kibner implied that the entire duplication process takes approximately twenty minutes, but Elizabeth's duplicate was born and matured within seconds of Elizabeth falling asleep.

External Links Edit

References Edit