They came from the stars with one mission in mind,
To slowly invade us and conquer mankind!
When Doctor Bennell and his lovely old flame
Became more aware of the creatures to blame
For copies of loved ones devoid of emotion,
They tried to resist the invasion in motion.
But who can escape these pod people when vexed?
You dare not nod off or else you may be next!

Though I missed the first three days of April, this is my first official post for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), for which I will attempt to write a post a day, sort of like the majority of last year. While I probably won’t always follow the official website’s idea prompt, I’ll try when I can, based on whatever movie I review.

Following up a little late on a prompt about stars, today I chose an science fiction classic, which for some reason I’ve never seen. The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers has the title of a laughable B-movie, but it actually takes itself seriously and manages to be unusually gripping for a black-and-white thriller from the 1950s. While it feels more or less like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, it’s an exceptionally good one, even if its villains are essentially plants.

Before the science fiction takes hold, the relationship between Doctor Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) and Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter) feels right at home in a romance film, with witty repartee and a likely second chance at love. Soon, though, paranoia sets in as various townspeople fear their family members have subtly changed for the worse, and enigmatic duplicates begin appearing and disappearing. By the time the main two realize what’s happening, mere escape may be impossible, let alone stopping the invaders.

While some involved with the film’s production have stated that there was no political message in mind, many reviewers since have latched onto perceived Cold War themes, such as the secretive invasion of America, defiance against involuntary conformity, and the “turning” of friends into foes. Whether viewers study such topics or just enjoy the film’s building tension, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is intelligent viewing and one of the better entries in the alien invasion genre, taking a less destructive but perhaps more pernicious path compared with War of the Worlds. Even if the final depiction of a character’s “replacement” goes against previously established revelations, it’s still chilling, and Kevin McCarthy’s warnings of “You’re next!” are no less unsettling than they were sixty years ago.

Best line: (Dr. Bennell) “In my practice, I’ve seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away. Only it happened slowly instead of all at once. They didn’t seem to mind. All of us, a little bit, we harden our hearts, grow callous. Only when we have to fight to stay human do we realize how precious it is to us, how dear.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2015 S. G. Liput

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