Film (1993). Warner Bros. Directed by Abel Ferrara. Written Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli, Nicholas St John, based on a story by Raymond Cistheri and Larry Cohen, based loosely in turn on the 1958 screenplay. Cast includes Gabrielle Anwar, Terry Kinney, Meg Tilly, Forest Whitaker and Billy Wirth. 87 minutes. Colour.
This low-budget remake (the second remake, the first being in 1978) of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1958) in most areas went straight to video, which was unfortunate. The producer, Robert H Solo, was interestingly also the producer of the 1978 Kaufman version, from which this differs considerably. Marti Malone (Anwar) is the teenage daughter of an inspector from the Environmental Protection Agency who has been seconded to a deep-south military base where toxic waste is suspected to exist. It turns out that the base has been infiltrated by alien pod-people who replace real humans by inserting tendrils into their orifices while they are asleep. Marti is already estranged from her stepmother (Tilly) and it is no surprise when the stepmother is the first to be zombified, though terrifying for her little brother who knows it is not his mother; this same child is in a military day-care centre where all the other children, sinisterly, produce exactly the same finger paintings. Events proceed with a chilling logic; there is little upbeat in the film, as Marti's family is stripped away from her. Ferrara is a director whose career has been built around tacky, low-budget, remorseless thrillers of considerable power, but this film is more accessible and less offensive than most of them. The metaphoric examination here of both the military and the nuclear family corrupting is biting and thoughtful. The siren-like alarm calls of the pod-people – like a military klaxon – provide a memorable touch. [PN]
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