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Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Directed by Don Siegel

Allied Artists Pictures Corporation, February 5, 1956 (US)

Screenplay: Daniel Mainwaring, based on the Collier’s magazine serial by Jack Finney

Starring: Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter

Sweet Jesus, be afraid.

Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy): Well, what is it? What’s going on?

Dr. Dan ’Danny’ Kauffman (Larry Gates): I don’t know, a strange neurosis … evidently contagious. An epidemic. Mass hysteria. In two weeks, it spread all over town.

Miles: Well what caused it?

Danny: Worry about what’s going on in the world probably.

Run! Run for your life! Run from the imposters, they’re monsters! They’re zombies … some kind of alien beings. They may look like you and me, but don’t be fooled, just run!

I know it doesn’t seem real that these creatures are somehow capable of taking over our bodies, but you gotta trust me here. To weave it into real word context, it would go something like this: You suddenly find yourself in the middle of a Tea Party convention or listening to Ann Coulter warbling at some town hall meeting. You wouldn’t pause and wonder what you were doing there, would you? No, you’d just get the hell out!

Miles: This is the oddest thing I’ve ever heard. Let’s hope we don’t catch it. I’d hate to wake up some morning and find out that you weren’t you.

The contemplation is absolutely dreadful, wondering what it would be like to be snatched, to be one of them. Shuddering, you try and regain focus by going over a game plan. Stay alert at all times. Pay close attention to the warning signs. If one morning things feel a bit different (for example, you notice that you are inexplicably watching Fox News), it may already be too late.

Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter): Dad, what are you doing in the basement this late?

Trust no one, least of all that neighbor offering up a sly smile or slippery Palin-esque wink-and-a-nod, or the other one across the street whose The American Conservative magazine you received by mistake last month and promptly left on their front step without ringing the bell after getting spooked by all those strange noises coming from their garage.

“What’s he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?
He has subscriptions to those magazines,
He never waves when he goes by
He’s hiding something from the rest of us,
He’s all to himself,
I think I know why”

from the Tom Waits song, “What’s He Building?

More and more, you come to terms with the grim reality that there may ultimately be no escape. Even if the zombies don’t get you, the fear here is that sooner or later the trauma from the shock will be the thing that snatches you.

A clock radio turns on. Morning. The speaker reveals gruesome, gory details of the …

(You think you hear a scream of sheer terror in the distance. It sounds like a woman. It must be far away though because your neighborhood has been an empty wasteland for weeks.)

… Republican victories in the Senate and a Republican takeover of the House. You begin to shake violently, and then you let out a scream.


But there is no one to hear you. There isn’t much left outside your barricaded home save a hope and prayer.

And a shitload of zombies.