Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

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Critic Consensus: One of the best political allegories of the 1950s, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an efficient, chilling blend of sci-fi and horror.

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Movie Info

Director Don Siegel's thinly-veiled examination of McCarthy-era hysteria stars Kevin McCarthy (no relation) as Miles Bennell, a California doctor who arrives at a San Francisco hospital in near-hysterical condition, raving about an alien invasion. His story, told in flashback, focuses on Bennell's home in tiny Santa Mira, where he discovers an alien plot to take over earth by methodically replacing humankind with zombie-like pod people.

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Cast

Kevin McCarthy
as Mile Binnell
Dana Wynter
as Becky Driscoll
Larry Gates
as Dr. Kauffman
Carolyn Jones
as Theodora
Virginia Christine
as Wilma Lentz
Tom Fadden
as Uncle Ira
Kenneth Patterson
as Stanley Driscoll
Guy Way
as Sam Janzek
Eileen Stevens
as Mrs. Grimaldi
Jean Andren
as Aunt Eleda Lentz
Pat O'Malley
as Man Carrying Baggage
Guy Rennie
as Proprietor
Whit Bissell
as Dr. Hall
Robert Clark
as Jimmy Grimaldi
Sam Peckinpah
as Charlie Buckholtz
Richard Deacon
as Dr. Harvey Bassett
Harry J. Vejar
as With Man Carrying Baggage
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Critic Reviews for Invasion of the Body Snatchers

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (5)

This modest, sci-fi-inflected 1956 horror movie may come to be seen as the defining metaphorical work of the twentieth century.

October 27, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Few modern-day movies are more genuinely frightening.

October 23, 2010 | Full Review…
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

This tense, offbeat piece of science-fiction is occasionally difficult to follow due to the strangeness of its scientific premise. Action nevertheless is increasingly exciting.

November 26, 2008 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

Don Siegel's superb little effort, with its matter-of-fact isolation of hero Kevin McCarthy (ironic, no?) from the smarmy complacency of a small town gone to hell -- and way beyond -- points the way to his gripping action films of the 60s and 70s.

May 30, 2007 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's still a chilling picture, gaining over Phil Kaufman's smart remake by virtue of its intimate small town setting, and it has one of the greatest endings ever filmed.

June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The original version of the oft-filmed science fiction horror is still the most insidious alien invasion film ever made.

November 18, 2016 | Full Review…
Seanax.com

Audience Reviews for Invasion of the Body Snatchers

It is hard not to think that when it came out this creepy pre-Twilight Zone sci-fi did a great disservice to a country already stirred by the collective paranoia of McCarthyism, but now it is no less than an essential classic that reflects very well the political turbulence of those days.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

This classic sci-fi gem is the original story of invading alien forces taking over the world population. A very subtle and deliberate metaphor for the creeping American fear of Communism, Body Snatchers was very popular on release and has had a long lasting effect on the genre, even spawning an amazing 1978 remake. This original isn't as nuanced or artsy as its later version, but what it lacks in beauty it makes up for in thrilling drama. Because of the time it was released there's an urgency that cannot be replicated, and it shows in the hammy performances from Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. There is a reason this film is a classic, and it still holds up to this day, but I will say that the performances were very over the top and somewhat stilted. Otherwise, the paranoia and high production value really make this a horror/sci-fi must see.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

A man discovers that his town has been replaced by aliens. The description of this film on Flixster implies that one can read this film as a "cautionary fable about the blacklisting hysteria of the McCarthy era." If that is true, I would like to see that argument drawn out and supported because I've been thinking about that interpretation and I can't make it hold water. What I see is B-movie science fiction. Other positive reviews regale the film's "fear factor," but I've always been immune to this response, and so the film's cheap thrills and atmospheric suspense aren't compelling for me. I wasn't bored, but I wasn't moved or compelled either. Overall, there may be more to this than a better version of an Ed Wood picture, but I don't see it.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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