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Body Snatchers
Directed by Abel Ferrara
Produced by Robert H. Solo
Written by Novel:
Jack Finney
Raymond Cistheri
Larry Cohen
Stuart Gordon
Dennis Paoli
Nicholas St. John
Starring Gabrielle Anwar
Meg Tilly
Music by Joe Delia
Cinematography Bojan Bazelli
Editing by Anthony Redman
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) January 28, 1993
Running time 87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue Domestic

Body Snatchers is a 1993 American science fiction horror film and loosely based on the 1955 novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. Body Snatchers was directed by Abel Ferrara (the director of Bad Lieutenant and Driller Killer), with the story co-adapted by B-movie auteur Larry Cohen, and a screenplay co-written by Re-Animator's Stuart Gordon and Nicholas St. John, a frequent Ferrara collaborator. The film stars Gabrielle Anwar, Billy Wirth, Terry Kinney, Meg Tilly, R. Lee Ermey and Forest Whitaker.

Body Snatchers is the third out of four film adaptations of the 1955 novel, the first adaptation being Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1956 and the second film adaptation was a remake in 1978, both of which had overwhelmingly positive reviews. A later remake, The Invasion, was released in 2007, deviated farthest from the original novel, and was the least successful of all its film adaptations.

The plot, similar to the original novel and its other film adaptations, revolves around the discovery that people are being replaced by almost perfect physical imitations grown from plant-like pods, which take over and kill their human victims as they sleep, turning them to dust. The "pod people", indistinguishable from normal people except for their utter lack of emotion, work together to secretly spread more pods in order to replace the entire human race. The largest difference in this version of the story is that is takes place on an army base in Alabama, unlike a small California town in the original novel or the first film adaptation, or in a city such as San Francisco like in the 1978 remake.



This film set its nightmare vision of conformity on a military base (filmed at Craig Air Force Base near Selma, Alabama), where an agent from the Environmental Protection Agency (Kinney) has brought along his family as he checks for contaminants which may be the cause of a recent outburst of mass hysteria on the base. The main character is the EPA agent's daughter, Anwar's Marti Malone, a teenager already alienated from her newly remarried father and stepmother (Tilly) even before pods enter the picture. Marti attempts to fit in, hanging around with the base commander's rebellious daughter, and by flirting with a handsome attack helicopter pilot, Tim Young (Wirth).

Extreme paranoia sets in as people around the army base begin to exhibit very unusual and disturbing behaviour, and people begin to mistrust friends and even family members, suspecting they are not who they really are. "They get you when you sleep," Marti is warned by one frantic runaway soldier. Soon the base has been virtually taken over by the pod people and the few remaining humans, after discovering the terrifying truth, attempt to escape this unnatural fate, although their warnings to others of course go unheeded. The tension builds with a series of horrific and unexpected events marked by some visceral special effects.

After her family are lost to the pod people, not for want of her determination, Marti goes with Tim in his attack helicopter, destroying the pods which are being shipped out of the base to the wider world. The ending of the film is an ambiguous one, quoting Marti's infected stepmother earlier in the film, suggesting that the phenomenon has already spread far beyond the army base, and nowhere, or nobody, is really safe.



Body Snatchers was dumped by Warner Brothers due to some bad reviews, releasing it to only a few dozen theaters, and subsequently its domestic gross was a mere $428,868. Nevertheless, the film was nominated for a Palme d'Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival,[1] and it enjoyed good VHS sales and high viewing figures on television showings. Still, some critics panned the film — Richard Harrington of the Washington Post (February 18, 1994) called it "a soulless replica of Don Siegel's 1956 model and Philip Kaufman's 1978 update".[2]

However the film did receive very positive reviews from some critics. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert considered it superior to the previous adaptations of Finney's famous novel and in his review (February 25, 1994) gave it four stars out of four, praising it for psychological realism and social criticism. Ebert stated "as sheer moviemaking, it is skilled and knowing, and deserves the highest praise you can give a horror film: It works".[3]

Nick Shager of the horror film review site Lessons of Darkness said in his review of the film, "this economical horror show still offers a few stunning moments of paranoia-laced terror".[4] Blake Davis of KFOR Channel 4 News said of the film: "One of the creepiest and most overlooked horror movies made in the past decade, featuring a strong, scary turn by Meg Tilly".[5]

The film currently has a "fresh" 68% rating on RottenTomatoes.[6]


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