Over the last few days I watched four "body snatchers" movies. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, dir. Don Siegel)... Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, dir. Philip Kaufman)... Body Snatchers (1993, dir. Abel Ferrara)... and The Faculty (1998, dir. Robert Rodriguez).
The Faculty is entertaining silliness with only a few innovations (the aliens are parasitic sea creatures who need to constantly drink bottled water to survive, and diuretic powder kills them), and a number of lines stolen directly from the earlier movies.
The '78 Kaufman Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, and Veronica Cartwright is very strong, but aesthetically very dated, especially in the first act--the decision to keep the camera away from people's faces inhibits investment with the characters. The one moment of greatness is a total non sequitur involving a dog with a human face.
The original 1956 Don Siegel Invasion of the Body Snatchers is terrific, by far the best of them. Fast-paced, lean, smart, and fucking chilling. Kevin McCarthy is great--should've been a movie star. And the embryonic pod people are more disgusting in this version than in any of the others, surprisingly. I saw this movie when I was a little kid, loved it, and it really holds up.
The biggest surprise, though, was the 1993 Abel Ferrara Body Snatchers version. It's uneven (and has a bizarre denouement, in which the seemingly low-budget movie suddenly, briefly becomes an action extravaganza, with missiles firing and huge explosions), but overall it's a forgotten horror classic. There are three or four great scenes, but one true standout... a genuine classic scene... when the "replaced" version of the Meg Tilly character calmly explains to her husband that it's no use running. "Go where? Steve, this is important. Go... where? That's right. Go where? Where you gonna go? Where you gonna run? Where you gonna hide? Nowhere."
Some nice person has cut together a few clips of the best moments from the Ferrara version (although the sync is slightly off in the best part)... NSFW...
So not only are the Occupy Wall Street protests happening in my old neighborhood (Zucotti Park is maybe four blocks away from the apartment building I lived in) but The Dark Knight Rises is shooting literally outside my old front door. This video is clearly shot from one of the lower floors of 45 Wall Street, my former address. The camera looks directly down on the awning over the entrance.
And this one's from the lobby: