Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, Philip Kaufman)


Eerie and very sinister, quiet and deadly. You only really too late that your own friends and neighbors are being replaced by creatures unknown. This is a force beyond our understanding, a parasite that feeds upon man. Do not, I repeat, do not fall asleep. You shall dream your last dream if you do, and the rest is a walking nightmare. Conformity is the norm already in human culture, which is unfortunate. Most unfortunate. Welcome to Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The original 1956 classic dealt with McCarthyism and communism, fear of the other and the suburbs not being a safe haven. Philip Kaufman’s equally great remake moves the action to San Francisco, trafficking in 1970s style paranoia and the fear of government bureaucracy in the wake of Watergate and the Vietnam War. Donald Sutherland, Blake Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy round out a fine cast that adds to the expert direction. The soundtrack is nice and creepy, although the film easily uses silence to underline the horror of what is occurring.

One of the best parts of the film is when a person literally crumbles away in Sutherland’s arms. What a terrifying concept, that a person could be destroyed and an unfeeling monster emerges, occupying their living space. Also the film wonderfully uses Nimoy and Sutherland,  who both fit the material rather well and are the major players in a situation that could determine the fate of the human race.

While I’m not sure if the other two remakes are even worth seeing the 1978 version is almost equal to the 1956 adaptation of the novel all of them are based on. Due to spoofs and time I knew the film’s ending, and yet that finale still amazes. This film is another worthy additon to sci-fi and horror.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Homecoming (2005, Joe Dante)


Look I really wanted to love Homecoming. I did. Joe Dante is one of my favorite directors, a man who has given us Gremlins, The Howling, The ‘Burbs, and Small Soldiers. Yet Homecoming falls short of those movies, and in some ways Dante is merely going back over material he covered in Small Soldiers, a highly underrated war satire. Still Homecoming does have its moments, and I did like how it was a semi-twist on the zombie genre, which even by 2006 had started to stagnate a bit. David is a political puppet, a hatchet man who wins elections without thinking about the consequences of a “Victory at all costs” mantra that has served him for years. So when the dead start to rise because of a wish he makes he is confronted with the heavy toll of war, realizing that maybe what he was doing isn’t worth it.

Naturally this episode from the Showtime series The Masters of Horror focused on the Iraq War since it was the war going on at the time, but I think that there is a typical underlying anti-war message going on throughout the short film. A particularly sad and tragic moment is when a couple actually invites one of the dead soldiers in, giving him aid and shelter despite the solider being an undead zombie. It was a nice moment, although it felt a little bit out of place in a movie where the rest of the time the undead soldiers are attacking people. Although I guess the victims are those responsible for sending the dead soldiers to fight and die in the first place. For a lie. A big lie.

Maybe I’m glad that this wasn’t a longer movie, as the material gets stretched pretty thin early on and David isn’t all that interesting. The Ann Coulter jokes with the character Jane Cleaver are slightly amusing but not as funny as they could be, and at times the movie just doesn’t go far enough. I will say the ending was a surprise, and that as far as short horror movies goes this one is decent, yet I wonder what Dante could still do with a larger budget. I guess I’ll find out when I view his last movie, The Hole, which is available on Netflix Instant Viewing I believe.

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