Paranoia, the Destroyer



One of science fiction's best B movies comes to the Eureka Theater on Friday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. when the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) drops from the projector and onto the screen ($5). Hang onto on your seat. This one'll scare the plants off of you.

Kevin McCarthy plays a doctor who returns to his hometown to find worried people complaining of the same thing: their loved ones aren't quite right. They look the same, but they are flat, expressionless vessels — and the combination is chilling. The doctor discovers that seedpods from outer space have descended upon the town and are replicating its unsuspecting inhabitants, throwing the townsfolk into a paranoid game of "us vs. them."

This low-budget film was made terrific by taut direction, tense scenes, stellar acting and a hybrid script that is both humorous and terrifying. There's no violence, nothing graphic — just fear building upon fear until panic runs amok. And panic is the monster in this movie. The pods are icky and the soulless replicas are creepy, but the real terror is the crescendo of fright, the fear that this could happen to you, and even worse, while you're asleep and totally unware. Many consider the film's subtext to be a veiled criticism of McCarthyism and the sweeping hysteria it fed and fed upon. Others claim it's an allegory for Communism turning people into party-line drones devoid of individuality, or a warning about nuclear war (glowing, dehumanizing pods falling from the sky). Whether all of these or none were intended, this type of invasion — something taking over your identity in such an everyday setting — was pioneering in film and sets Invasion apart as one of the most alarming science fiction movies of all time.

Have fun watching this one in the dark, poddy people, but keep one eye on the screen and another on the person next to you. And for heaven's sake don't nod off or you could be next.

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