Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sleep, Stealth and Body Snatchers

What if you woke up one morning and your spouse, or roommate, or loved one was gone, and in their place was someone – or something – else? And what if slowly everyone around you becomes replaced as well? And worst of all, what if no one believed you?

This is the challenge faced in Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers and its most famous adaptation, the 1956 film (and perhaps even better 1978 remake), Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The story begins with Dr. Miles Bennell, who is somewhat confused and suspicious when several of his patients, his former girlfriend Becky, complain that their loved ones are imposters. However, he starts to believe that they’re not merely paranoid when his friend Jack discovers a body which, though not yet fully formed, bears a striking resemblance to Jack himself. His fears that the townspeople have been replaced in their sleep with copies are confirmed when duplicates of Jack, Becky and Bennell emerge from pods. Unfortunately, by the time they return with the police, the bodies have vanished and their desperate pleas as chalked up to just another case of hysteria. By the time anyone believes them, it may already be too late. It’s rather a genius plan on the pod-people’s part, I regret to say.

If you stumbled across something like this, would you be able to sleep at night? I certainly wouldn’t – which as it turns out, isn’t such a bad thing. Insomnia . . . aka. sole defense against alien replacement.

I think the creepiest part of the story is the pod-people’s utter lack of emotion. They remain completely passionless, seeming to only concern themselves with getting to every remaining human holdout. This lack of emotion – of love or anger or hatred – might make for a more peaceful planet, but as Yorish says in The Invasion (yet another Body Snatchers remake), “To imagine a world where every crisis did not result in new atrocities, where every newspaper is not full of war and violence. Well, this is to imagine a world where human beings cease to be human.” And these pod people are definitely not human. It makes me think violence might, in this one instance, be the answer.

I have to say that, as much as I love Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy in the 1978 film, perhaps my favorite adaptation of the novel (which is actually more of a hybrid between Body Snatchers and Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters) is the 1998 sc-fi/horror flick, The Faculty. It’s completely ridiculous and unreservedly campy, but I just love it. For those of you who’ve never seen it, let me sum it up in one quick sentence: Pod-people meet high school social hierarchy.

And yet, as absurd as the movie is, it doesn’t lose sight of Finney and Heinlein’s original themes: as destructive as they may be, humanity is lost without emotions. And more importantly, extraterrestrials may be stealthier than we ever imagined. It’s not all war of the worlds or Independence Day invasions. Sometimes they sneak in through the unsuspected back door, infiltrating the earth without causing any immediate alarm.

So whether it’s being taken over in your sleep or an ominous trip to the principal’s office, beware the pod-people. And from the body snatchers, may I say . . .

Sweet Dreams.
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This post is part of the Blogging A through Z Challenge 2012. My theme is (in case you didn’t already guess) science fiction. Stay tuned for the rest of the alphabet, and if you’d like to check in on the rest of the participants, simply click here.

26 comments:

  1. I'm awake! I'm very awake! I'm also easily scared so I might not ever watch those films.

    (I'm so easily scared that I'm going to watch the morning showing of Cabin in the Woods next week, with lunch and shopping afterwards, so even if I spend all night awake at least I'll have new shoes!)

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  2. Once of my favorite alien invasion scenarios!
    Odd how a fear of 'communist infiltration' resulted in this fun sci-fi sub-genre, but I'm glad it did. It also makes a lot more sense for an 'invasion' scenario than a ship & ground-pounder war like War of the Worlds or Invasion:LA... update the inefficient one pod per person model and send a retrovirus that recodes dna to change the life on the planet to one more compatible with your own. scary stuff. Though the one-pod per person has a lot more cinematic suspense ;)

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  3. I haven't seen the Faculty in a long time. Probably since it first hit DVD. I recall that I kind of liked it. I'm always suspicious that something weird is going on around me. Thinking they all might be pod people makes sense.

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  4. I haven't seen either of those movies but whenever people (including myself) start acting all strange, my first thought is "body snatchers!"

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  5. Okay, the original Body Snatchers scared the daylights out of me. Of course I was pretty young. I haven't seen The Faculty and I'm not sure I would.

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  6. Ah, so that's what's wrong with everyone lately ;)
    Will probably have trouble sleeping tonight just thinking about the body snatchers!

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  7. Annalisa – Smart movie. Don’t close your eyes! And I too want to see that movie. In the daytime. With a lot of people.

    Laughing Ferret – I agree, that does make more sense. And it is certainly creepier! It gives me nightmares like no other.

    Rusty – It’s one of those movies that is just so terrible it’s amazing. And yeah, I definitely have a few neighbors that seem a bit…suspicious.

    Martha – That’s really not a bad thing. Sleep is how they get you anyways.

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  8. Hello, S.L.! I don't like scary movies so I haven't seen any of these. I'm a big wimp, LoL!

    Have a great weekend and happy A to Z!!

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  9. Omigod! I LOVED The Faculty. Josh Hartnett is so gorgeous! I've never read The Body Snatchers but I want to and I'd be scared out of my mind if this ever happened--sleep wouldn't even be an option.

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  10. I keep ranting about not understanding the current obsession with zombies but I remember being terrified by that movie!

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  11. They sound like scary movies. I'd probably end up terrified for weeks if I watched either of them. :P


    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

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  12. Loved the body snatchers! Such a great creepy movie :)

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  13. Yes, these are two of the movies that traumatized me. When I first saw the preview for The Host that's coming out, I thought it was a remake of body snatchers at first and FREAKED OUT!

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  14. Yes, I have seen The Faculty - it was good. Puppet Masters was good as well - just didn't get a fair shake since the book's concept had been copied so many times as well.

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    1. Sad but true. The Puppet Masters gets no respect, but at least it take credit for inspiring some truly incredible sci-fi.

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  15. I remember when the 70s one came out. Everyone was talking about it and going on about it, but I wasn't allowed to see it. It was upsetting. In fact, I've still never seen it.

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    1. What?! Not allowed - that's just not fair. You should have a movie night and catch up. It's super creepy - definite classic sci-fi.

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    2. yeah, at some point, I need to see it. I probably don't have the time to do it, right now, though. When I do have time, I won't remember.

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  16. I think that's one reason the Freddie Kruger series were so popular. He attacks when we are most defenseless; when we sleep. A very cool concept.

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  17. I've not seen the Faculty. Now I want to :)

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  18. I also think the Faculty sounds like fun, but Body Snatchers would probably be too much for me! I remember thinking The Stepford Wives was scary as a kid. Julie

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  19. I vaguely remember Faculty. "Pod-people meet high school social hierarchy." Yup, that about sums it up. LOL.

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  20. I liked The Faculty. The Jon Stewart cameo was pretty funny.

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    1. I know! I was kind of shocked when I went back to watch it a few years ago and realized who it was.

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  21. I've totally had a nightmare before where all my friends/family got taken over by EVIL BEINGS! That was scary.

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  22. Guess all the suspicions and ensuing insomnia is why you are so well read!

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