Doctor Bennel returns to his home town of Santa Mira from
a convention and immediately notices that subtle changes have
taken place. A normally reliable friend insists that her uncle
is not really her uncle, and an hysterical little boy says
the same about his mother. They look and act the same but
are somehow different. The local psychiatrist assures him
that the town's inhabitants are just undergoing a form of
mass hysteria, but the doctor isn't convinced. One moment
his appointments schedule is booked solid, and the very next
day, it seems, they have cancelled, forgetting their previous
ailments. A couple of corpses are discovered with no fingerprints
and incomplete facial features. However, they bear an uncanny
resemblance to known people. When the doctor discovers large,
husk-producing pods in his greenhouse, he soon realises the
town's population is being replaced by duplicates...
The 1950s was a curious decade for science fiction space or
monster movies. Most were B-movie turkeys, some of these so
bad they're good, and others hardly worthy of anyone's attention.
But out of this same period emerged a handful of bonefide
classics of the genre, such as The
Day the Earth Stood Still, The Incredible
Shrinking Man, Village
of the Damned... and Invasion of the Body
All the elements are in place to make this a memorable viewing
experience. Firstly, the original source material by Jack
Finney, but more importantly here the extremely tight and
competent screenplay from Daniel Manwairing. Even by today's
standards the plot moves along at a cracking pace. Each scene
is edited concisely, and that means it still remains exciting
to watch fifty years later.
Two slight nit-picks. The music score is typically over-dramatic
for this era, with the effect of a host of violinists attempting
to fiddle their way out of a cupboard under the stairs, and
a duck walking up and down the keys of a grand piano. Becky,
the love interest for the doctor, has the effect of an early
Doctor Who assistant, hanging on his every word and
action, asking questions like "What's happening?"
and "What can we do?" However, this is merely a
product of the time, events moving on too quickly for the
weak female to become too obvious.
As with the recent release of The
Thing From Another World, this DVD offers us
the choice of watching the film in its original black and
white or as a newly colourised version. This attention to
detail is commendable but obviously included to make it a
more attractive sale to a sometimes somewhat short-sighted
American viewing public. My advice is don't fix what isn't
broken; watch it in its original monochrome and enjoy. This
is a genuine old classic.