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ScreenShots: Invasion Of The Capgras Delusion


Never a fan of gore and splatter movies and with limited time to entertain ourselves after a workday we searched for a sci-fi classic in black and white and settled on the trailblazing “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

No, not the Donald Sutherland/Leonard Nimoy re-make in which dear old San Francisco becomes the garden of choice for an alien army dotting the city with massive seed pods.

We picked the granddad of horror movies, a lean pioneering effort shot in days with a beans budget and a paltry $30,000 for special effects. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) has been billed as a not-so-thinly-veiled allegory for the perils of a country still shaking off the podium pounding histrionics of McCarthyism and – with nary a slashing or on-screen killing to speak of – it’s still bone-chilling.

Much has to do with the set-up, an over-the-top soundtrack and introduction to the town of Alta Mira, a semi-rural enclave where the clacking of lawnmower blades and the clink of ice cubes for cocktail hour sets the tone.

Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin not the senator McCarthy) returns to his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are not who they pretend to be. Initially skeptical, especially when the doppelgangers in question are able to answer detailed questions about their victim’s lives, he is eventually convinced that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon – even if it means halting his pursuit of the delicious and newly divorced Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter).

What happens next is a blueprint for how to make a horror movie, with the good doctor and his lady running non-stop from a conspiracy set in motion by the town’s key players and with bigger plans than the conversion of little Alta Mira.

We see some pioneering latex body doubling, soap bubbles, a pitchforking, a brief glimpse of Sam Peckinpah not blowing something up and just about every character and B-movie actor available in 1956 appear on screen.

And, except for a brief glimpse of a cut on a morphing hand, not a single drop of blood.

Classicists are probably well aware of this one, but it’s still fun – especially at O Early Thirty when you can swear the garden is breathing and pulsing and you’re left wondering how you’d be received if you suddenly ran across town screaming a warning about pod people.

Currently available on Amazon Prime.


  1. It really is an enjoyable movie. And if anyone does watch the Donald Sutherland remake watch for the weird funny cameo by Kevin McCarthy. Brilliant.

  2. My grandparents had a greenhouse like the one in the movie. After seeing the picture I never felt comfortable out there ever again.

  3. We let our kids watch this one and they were bored silly. Too much talking they said. We’ll give it another try in a couple of years after they’ve matured.

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