Invasion of the Body Snatchers

  • Review Date: August 15, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1956
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Talky, tame original sci-fi study in paranoia.
  • Review Date: August 15, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1956
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

Age(i)

2
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5
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9
10
11
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15
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Even the alien pod people are pretty well behaved, conquering without overt violence.

Violence

Some scuffling, and discreet stabbings with hypodermic needles. A brief shot of an alien clone impaled with a pitchfork.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking and cigarette smoking. The main character, trying to warn of an alien attack, is accused of being drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there are multiple versions and remakes of this movie on video, of which this original edition is the tamest. Others amped up the action, nudity/sexual content, and disturbing visuals considerably. This one might have received even a G rating under the early MPAA.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the small California town of Santa Mira, local doctor Miles (Kevin McCarthy) returns home from a medical convention to hear of a strange hysteria sweeping the neighborhood. Certain children and adults are claiming that their parents or relatives are imposters, perfect in every physical detail, but just not the same. Then a friend of Miles' finds a strange male body -- not living, but not exactly "dead" either -- in his house. The unidentified, nondescript man, they notice, has no fingerprints. The thing disappears when the witnesses try to alert local police. In a few days, the same people who complained about the imposters tell Miles that they imagined it all, and everything is back to "normal." But not for Miles and his longtime platonic girlfriend Becky (Dana Wynter), who have seen giant seed pods disgorging human replicas in a greenhouse, and realize that this is an alien invasion and people are being replaced by emotionless duplicates. And it's spreading. Who can Miles and Becky trust, and who in the outside world will believe them?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Though equipped with the best title to ever grace a drive-in marquee, the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is fairly atypical for a science-fiction/horror movie -- in that the idea underneath the material is a lot scarier than anything you see. In fact, laden with dialogue (that makes it feel longer than its brief running time), the movie might bore younger viewers -- or even grownups -- expecting more standard shock material. It's no surprise, really, that later talented filmmakers remade this multiple times, adding their own angles and twists (and more explicit content). Seen today, the 1956 film seems a bit stodgy and talky, and studio interference took much of the sting out of the ending. Still, horror-sci-fi fans speak of it with reverence.

The film studio never intended Invasion of the Body Snatchers to be a prestige production -- hence its short running time, designed for bargain-priced double features. Furthermore, executives insisted on adding an awkward prologue and epilogue in which Miles tells his strange story to authorities, to end the flick on an audience-pleasing positive note. Director Don Siegel would have preferred to finish with nobody listening to the hero's terrified warnings. Nonetheless, generations have come to embrace this flawed film as a classic, reading in messages galore about the dangers of social conformity in the Cold War era. Some have claimed it's about McCarthyism (would they have made that dubious association if the leading man's last name were different?). Others insist it's about communism, and the attitude in 1950s America that enemy infiltrators, who look just like you and me, could take over by stealth.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the "message" in the film, which is often described as a warning against 1950s conformity and "McCarthyism." Do you think this is what the movie is trying to convey? Or is it more of an allegory about communist infiltration -- the complete opposite? Or is it likely the filmmakers didn't intend any deep message, and critics have just read their own interpretations into a groundbreaking creature-feature? If kids have seen the many different versions (and imitations) of Invasion of the Body Snatchers you can ask them which they liked best, and why, and perhaps turn them onto the original Jack Finney novel.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 5, 1956
DVD release date:June 1, 1998
Cast:Carolyn Jones, Dana Wynter, Kevin McCarthy
Director:Don Siegel
Studio:Republic Pictures Home Video
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:80 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old June 13, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

A Venerable Inception

Perspective is what makes this film worthwhile; by perspective, I mean that, at the time, the Red Scare was receding, but was still very real for many Americans all across the country. This film symbolized that blatant fear in more prospects than the singular, the main idea being that the merits of communism, would convert every free-thinking human being into a mindless automaton. In a contemporary sense, this film still holds emotional weight, as the characters imagined during the plot itself form a bond with you, as well as with one another, forcing you to care about the imminent calamity that would strike their own small town and, eventually, the entire planet.
Parent of a 9, 10, 10, and 12 year old Written byDoc Kaos October 4, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Great for all ages.

A great old black and white sci-fi movie that can be watched by almost any age. A great conversation starter for those semi-deep conversations kids love. How do we know the cat is really the cat we started with!?
Teen, 14 years old Written bycoolkid394 June 23, 2014
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Sci-fi classic low on gore and heavy on suspense.

This movie is a beloved sci-fi classic. Like most of the other sci-fi movies of the fifties, this movie is low on gore, sex and language and it is harmless. But however this movie was not intended for younger kids. It could make them paranoid and fear that other people are aliens. The plot may also be too complicated for a younger kid to understand. The movie does have some good role models however. A man tries to warn other people of the aliens and he tries to save them.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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