Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 American science fiction horror film directed by Don Siegel and starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. Daniel Mainwaring adapted the screenplay from Jack Finney’s 1954 novel The Body Snatchers.
The story depicts an extraterrestrial invasion in a small California town. The invaders replace human beings with duplicates that appear identical on the surface but are devoid of any emotion or individuality. A local doctor uncovers what is happening and tries to stop them.
Psychiatrist Dr Hill is called to the emergency ward of a hospital, where a frantically screaming man is held in custody. Dr Hill agrees to listen to his story. The man identifies himself as Dr Miles Bennell and recounts the events leading to his arrest in the flashback that follows.
In the fictional town of Santa Mira, California, Miles Bennell, a local doctor, has a number of patients accusing their loved ones of being impostors. Another patient is a former girlfriend of his, the recently divorced Becky Driscoll, who tells him that her cousin Wilma, has the same fear about Uncle Ira. Dr Dan Kauffman, a psychiatrist in the town, assures Bennell that the cases are nothing but “epidemic mass hysteria”.
That same evening Bennell’s friend Jack Belicec finds a body with what appear to be his features, though it’s not yet fully developed. The next body found is a copy of Becky in the cellar of her house.
When Bennell calls Kauffman to the scene, the bodies have mysteriously disappeared and Kauffman suspects Bennell of falling for the same hysteria. The following night Bennell, Becky, Jack and Jack’s wife Teddy again find duplicates of themselves, emerging from giant pods. They conclude that the townspeople are being replaced in their sleep by perfect physical copies…
On October 25, 2021, the British Film Institute (BFI) is releasing Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray with the following extras:
Newly recorded audio commentary by filmmaker and film historian Jim Hemphill (2021)
50th-anniversary commentary with stars Dana Wynter and Kevin McCarthy, and Gremlins director Joe Dante (2006)
John Player Lecture: Don Siegel (1973, 75 mins, audio only): Don Siegel looks over his career with Barry Norman
Sleep No More: Invasion of the Body Snatchers Revisited (2006, 27 mins): a look at Body Snatchers’ production history. Includes clips from interviews with Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, John Landis, Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers), and science fiction historian Bob Burns
The Fear and the Fiction: The Body Snatchers Phenomenon (2006, 8 mins): considering the film’s themes and critical interpretations
What’s In a Name? (2006, 2 mins): a short video piece about the title of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and some of the changes that were made to get it right
Return to Santa Mira (2006, 13 mins): a look at the locations where key segments from Invasion of the Body Snatchers were shot
A selection of complementary archive films, with British propaganda short Doorstep to Communism (1948, 11 mins) and ground-breaking botanical cinematography in Magic Myxies (Mary Field, F Percy Smith, 1931, 11 mins) and Battle of the Plants (F Percy Smith, 1926, 11 mins)
Original theatrical trailer
Trailers From Hell: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (2013, 3 mins): Body Snatchers fan Joe Dante celebrates the film
An illustrated 40-page booklet with new writing by Dr Deborah Allison, Charlie Bligh, and Katy McGahan, and an archive piece by J Hoberman
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been endlessly debated in terms of supposed subtextual elements, including its supposed allegorical treatments of Communism and McCarthyism, but the bottom line is, every possible subtext and/or allegory can be stripped away from this film and there’s still one of the most disturbing depictions of incipient paranoia ever caught on celluloid.” Blu-ray.com