Original vs. Remake: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

In most cases, when you look at an original horror movie versus its counterpart remake, there seems to be a consensus of the original being better because, after all, it is the original. In some rare cases, the remake is known to trump the original. We see this with “The Thing” and “The Fly” for the most part. Some crazy folks think that you can include “Dawn of the Dead” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” but they seem to forget how impressive the original films were.

One of these sets of films that I go back and forth on is the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” against the remake. Both films were adaptations of “The Body Snatchers,” Jack Finney’s amazing 1954 science fiction novel.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

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The Original: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

The original 1956 version takes place in a quiet little suburban town and contains a few nice character studies, but runs only 80 minutes so the pace is nearly frantic, but does a very nice job keeping the viewer on board with the film. It is thrilling through the majority of its run time and has very little build up before we are taken on a wild and fast ride.

The cast of the original is very tight starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. The film was produced by Walter Wanger and directed by Don Siegel, who did such a nice job with the direction and pace of the film.

This film was made more as a political statement due to the pressures of that time and how communism was feared. The pod men are clearly a message about the growth of communism at that time. Take a look at the features of these creatures – no love, no emotion, no anger.

The pitfalls of the original are the same pitfalls for most films of that time including stiff dialogue, which does not hold up very well. I am sure that we will be saying the same thing in 50 years about movies of today though. The ending of the film is a little too Hollywood for me as well, but it beats the original ending spelling out too much.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

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The Remake: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

The 1978 remake includes the always amazing Donald Sutherland, but also includes Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy, which is somewhat annoying for me. Without Sutherland, this film could have been a failure right off the bat, but his screen presence overshadows the failures of the supporting cast. Brooke Adams and Veronica Cartwright were very well in this film though.

Philip Kaufman’s direction of the remake is fantastic as the viewer falls into the story and never gets let out.

The main pitfall to the remake though is that it is less believable because of its choice of settings. It is much more believable to occur in a small suburban town instead of a larger city where someone would have caught on a little quicker.

The remake easily takes the nod on special effects though as they were a thing of beauty for the time in which the film was conceived.

Original vs. Remake: The Verdict

This actually becomes a tough decision because the criteria which I rate this contest on is mixed. I appreciate the original for its cast and fast pace, but find the remake to have a killer ending, while the original ending is just average. The remake has the edge on effects and overall look and feel, so I give the nod to the remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” as a better film, but only by a slight margin.