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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

USA 1956
produced by
Walter Wanger Pictures/Allied Artists
directed by Don Siegel
starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke, Virginia Christine, Tom Fadden, Kenneth Patterson, Guy Way, Eileen Stevens, Beatrice Maude, Jean Andren, Bobby Clark, Everett Glass, Dabbs Greer, Pat O'Malley, Guy Rennie, Marie Selland, Sam Peckinpah, Harry J.Vejar, Whit Bisell, Richard Deacon
screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring, based on the story by Jack Finney, published by Collier's Magazine, music by Carmen Dragon

Body Snatchers

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When country doctor Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returns from a convention, he finds his village struck by a case of mass hysteria where people believe their relatives are not their relative anymore - even though quite obviously they are. Bennell and his girlfriend Becky (Dana Wynter) don't know what to make of it, until they find a probably dead body in their friend's Jack (King Donovan) house that seems to be sort of half-finished and that seems to develop Jack's features. Of course, that makes no sense, but Bennell soon figures that a new bred of humans is grown to substitute the villagers. He, Becky, Jack and Jack's wife Teddy (Carolyn Jones) soon discover some big pods in Bennell's greenhouse from which half-finished humanoid bodies emerge upon opening - bodies that seem to develop their features.

Bennell sends Jack and Teddy out of town to get help while he and Becky stay in the village to try and figure out what's going on, and at the same time try to stay awake and not be replaced by their pod-duplicates, which take over humans in their sleep. Problem is, the villagers or rather their duplicates have long found out that Bennell and Becky are not of their kind, and they are hell-bent on turning them. It's only luck that Bennell and Becky remain alive, and more importantly remain themselves.

Eventually, Jack and Teddy return - but they have by now been turned as well, and it's only by sheer luck that Bennell and Becky manage to escape and leave town via an abandoned mine - where Becky falls to sleep for a moment and is turned as well. Now all on his own, Bennell makes it to the nearest highway - where he finds out the pods are already delivered to neighbouring cities in large quantities.

Bennell makes it to the authorities, but nobody is willing to believe him ...


Above all else, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is 1950's paranoia cinema at its finest: It doesn't take much imagination to figure out that the pod-people stand for the Commies, and when Kevin McCarthy fights for his life, he actually fights for the American way of life, and hen his typical 1950's small town is turned into a threat, it's not the fault of the small town but of those who perverted it. In essence, the film never questions the status quo, rather re-afirms it - which makes it kind of weird that some critics and film historians see the film as a biting commentary of senator McCarthy's witchhunts.

Anyways, while the film is almost ridiculously old-fashioned and anything but timeless in its basic set of values and the like, it's also a nice suspense piece that features quite a number of memorable scenes, is well-told, tightly directed and decently paced.

It's a film you might not be in the mood for everyday, but it's a great addition to any 1950's/Cold War cinema night.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD