Entertainment Weekly - 10/16/1998
"...Old-fashioned innocents unaware of infinite possibility....[McCarthy is] splendid..." -- Rating: B
Total Film - 11/01/2007 5 stars out of 5 -- "Don Siegel's taut, bleak, noir-flavoured picture is arguably the science fiction B-movie of the 1950s..."
Empire - 11/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "Back in 1956, in crisp black-and-white, at the height of Cold War-fed paranoia, the story was at its most effective."
Uncut - 12/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "A concise but ambiguous masterpiece of paranoia, its sharp, haunting brilliance grows clearer with the appearance of each subsequent replicant."
Wall Street Journal - 10/22/2010
"Few modern-day movies are more genuinely frightening..."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Something evil has taken possession of the small town of Santa Mira, California. Hysterical people accuse their loved ones of being emotionless imposters; of not being themselves. At first, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) tries to convince them they're wrong...but they're not. Plant-like extraterrestrials have invaded Earth, replicating the villagers in giant seed "pods" and taking possession of their souls while they sleep. Soon the entire town is overwhelmed by the inhuman horror, but it won't stop there. In a terrifying race for his life, Dr. Bennell escapes to warn the world of the deadly invasion of the pod people! Remade in both 1978 and 1997, this chilling combination of extraterrestrial terror and anti-conformity paranoia is considered one of the great cult classics of the genre.
Don Siegel's cult masterpiece, interpreted as an allegory of both McCarthyism and Communism, is undoubtedly one of the screen's most disturbing evocations of paranoia. It stars Kevin McCarthy as Dr. Miles Binnell, a physician whose traumatized arrival in the emergency room of a San Francisco hospital leads the staff to believe he's lost his mind. In a series of flashbacks, he unwinds a bizarre account of his last few days. After his return from a trip to rural Santa Mira, his nurse, Sally (Jean Willes), explains that his office has been flooded with patients who have made appointments yet never appeared. Former girlfriend Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter) tells him that she's unable to rid herself of the belief that the man claiming to be her uncle is an impostor. A hysterical young boy refuses to return home, claiming that his mother is not his mother. Miles's concern over this pattern of incidents, temporarily allayed by some jargon from the town psychiatrist, is newly aroused when he gets a phone call from friend Jack Belicec (King Donovan), who begs him to come over and take a look at the strange mannequinlike figure that's suddenly appeared on his pool table. This exceptionally well written and directed fable, the ultimate comment on the subtly coercive conformity of the 1950s, may be Siegel's best film, and it is undoubtedly one of the most exciting science fiction films ever made.
This classic film, based on the serialized story in Collier's magazine by Jack Finney, is set in idyllic small-town America, where a strange, alien form of plant life sprouts pods that destroy the human personality while taking over the body. And only one man can stop them...if they don't stop him first.
Shooting location: Sierra Madre and Beechwood Hills, CA.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1994.
Sam Peckinpah served as dialogue director for this film, as well as playing the small role of the meter reader.
Don Siegel described his purpose in making the film: "I think so many people have no feeling about cultural things, no feeling of pain, of sorrow. I wanted to get it over and I didn't know of a better way to get it over than in this particular film."
The special effects budget was less than $15,000.
This well-reviewed and popular film has been remade twice; in 1978 by director Philip Kaufman, in which original director Don Siegel and star Kevin McCarthy had cameos, and in 1993 by Abel Ferrara.
Jack Finney's serialized story "The Body Snatchers" was later published as a novel, called (like the film) INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.
Richard Deacon, who later starred as Mel Cooley on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, has a small role in the film.
No slashers or monsters... just sheer terror
Movie Lover: Hanley Harding from
Sunny Isles Beach -- November, 5, 2005
This B&W classic posits one of the most unique ideas of alien invasion ever thought up: giant seed pods rain down upon the earth and humans are converted into emotionless plant-people. It all takes place while we sleep... we don't even realize we're being taken over! and the humans who are "converted" are working hard at propagating the take-over of the entire human race. Our hero finds out what is going on and tries mightily to fight off the inevitable slumber, while also trying to get word out of his rapidly-changing small town to somebody -- anybody -- who will believe him, but he is thwarted at every turn. The tension is nail-biting to the very end, when the entire human race is finally...??? (I ain't sayin'!)
Insomnia Is Good!
Movie Lover: FilmFlops Critic from
Trumbull, CT -- September, 22, 2005
One of the most unsettling "paranoia pictures" ever made. Unrelenting menace; bleak and frightening. In fact, so frightening, a more "upbeat" ending was added to the final release. This film grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. Every day life was never so scary, and insomnia seems a blessing!