A superbly crafted film by innovative director Siegel, this low-budget science fiction tale became one of the great cult classics of the genre.
Miles (McCarthy), a doctor from the small town of Santa Mira, arrives in San Francisco in hysterical condition; he raves that his community has been invaded by aliens who have literally taken over the bodies of his friends and relatives. He's a candidate for the lunatic asylum, most agree, but
they hear him out, and the story unfolds in flashback. Miles has returned home from a medical convention to find that many people have been complaining that their loved ones somehow don't appear to be the same people as before. He also runs into Becky (Wynter), an old girlfriend and recent
divorcee, and they both note how odd it is that all the complaints seem to be suddenly vanishing. Miles and Becky have dinner with two friends (Donovan and Jones) and, to their horror, the quartet discover enormous pods growing in the couple's greenhouse which open to reveal exact physical
reproductions of each of them. Miles and Becky run for their lives; half the population of the town, including the police, has been replaced. The phone system is also in the alien grip: when Miles tries to call federal authorities, operators tell him that all the lines to Washington are tied up.
Miles and Becky later witness the police directing locals to drive their pod-filled cars to neighboring towns, and they realize that the whole world is in great danger. The local psychiatrist (Gates) catches them and arranges for two pods to be placed in the next room. The sinister shrink explains
that all Miles and Becky have to do is go to sleep; they will awaken as one of the new creatures and will never again know pain, hate, or worry. Miles counters that they will also be without joy or love, and he and Becky attempt to escape.
This film was originally conceived by producer Wanger as standard B fare, but Siegel made much more of it, with writer Mainwaring injecting an element of subtle humor. It's since come to seem typical of 50s paranoia about everything from the Red Scare to nuclear warfare. INVASION spawned two remakes, a 1978 version starring Donald Sutherland and 1994's BODY SNATCHERS, directed by Abel Ferrara.
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