Monday, October 12, 2015

Top 20 Horror Movies - #16) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

One of the things that I'm doing this month as I celebrate Halloween here in the Land of Way is taking the time to rank my Top 20 Horror Movies and my Top 20 Horror Novels.

I want to be clear that I'm basing these choices on my own humble opinion.  I'm not trying to rank these movies in accordance with their place in pop culture, but I'm offering up my take on the best horror films that I have ever watched and enjoyed.  There are some familiar candidates that I consider to be great pictures that didn't make the cut because there wasn't room, and there are some films that are widely regarded as great pictures that didn't make the cut because I feel that they are overrated.  There are also a few instances where it was difficult to determine whether or not a movie belonged to the horror genre (I said "no" to Aliens but "yes" to Jaws), and it may also be worth noting that this is largely a modern list (as long as you're okay with my classification of modern as anything after 1960) that only features one lonely creature from the so-called "Classic Monsters" films produced by Universal Studios.

Thus far, the list includes:

#20) The Fly (1986) 
#19) The Howling (1981)
#18) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
#17) Alien (1979)

For my last selection, we journeyed to outer space.  This time, alien spores designed for global domination are going to save us the trip.

Top 20 Horror Movies - #16) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

The second of three remakes to grace my list is a creepy sci-fi/horror hybrid that greatly improves upon the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers from 1956, which was a damn good movie itself.  This creepy affair has a stellar cast and impressive effects, and Phillip Kaufman showed a deft touch with his direction.  In particular, Kaufman did a great job of utilizing the city of San Francisco as the setting and capturing some really wonderful images of the alien spores that threaten our heroes.  The plot is obviously a real winner; we've seen a couple of different versions of the same story since this remake was released, and there are a number of other films that are clearly imitations of this sinister saga as envisioned by the author of the source novel, Jack Finney.  Things start slowly, but soon paranoia gives way to outright terror as our weary players struggle to survive, wondering who they can trust and who has already been replaced.  Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams are outstanding in the lead roles.  The supporting cast includes Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, and Art Hindle, and Kevin McCarthy (the star of the 1956 version) briefly pops up in a significant cameo.  I like the score from Denny Zeitlin and I really like the way that this Invasion of the Body Snatchers slowly builds to a terrifying crescendo.  The last scene is a genuine shocker, and as many times as this tale has been brought to the screen, there can be no doubt that this is the best version.  It remains one of my favorite horror films, and it is certainly deserving of the #16 spot on my list.   

This stellar remake benefits from groovy effects, a sinister mood, and an awesome cast.

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