Sunday, 9 January 2011

Sci-Fi Classics: 'Tarantula' & 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'

Because the weather has been rotten the last couple of days so there was nothing for it but to watch old sci-fi films from the fifties... :o)

 'Tarantula!' (1955)

Because there is nothing better than watching a very obviously superimposed spider tear up the Arizona desert before being taken down by the US military! Having said that though, the spider may well be obviously superimposed but it’s somehow all the more lifelike for it. Watching this bad boy creep up on cattle and unsuspecting passers by makes for some surprisingly creepy moments. I’m thinking of when it creeps up to the mad professor’s house while his attractive assistant is getting ready for bed. I was not at all telling her to look out of the damn window, no sir…
John Agar does a great job of showing us just why small town American doctors were a great defence against alien invasion in the fifties while Leo G. Carrol (Mr. Waverly!) shows us just why America’s ultimate demise will come at the hand of absent minded scientists who can’t see the perils inherent in their creations. The real star of the show though is the Tarantula.

'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' (1956)

Something alien has invaded the sleepy town of Santa Mira and who else can combat this threat but the local doctor? (I told you, if there’s an alien invasion happening then a small town doctor will be heading the resistance) His job is made all the harder though by the fact that the invading force is hidden in plain sight. They could be any one of us…
I’d seen ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ years ago but was more than happy to get a copy for Christmas as I’d read Jack Finney’s book fairly recently and wanted to see how the two matched up. The film does a great job of matching the sense of creeping dread and paranoia in the book; all the more so as the director is happy to take more of a risk with leading characters and have them succumb to the invasion. I liked how the film ends on such an open ended note (it could go anywhere) but preferred the victorious yet strangely downbeat ending of the book itself. ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ was still a lot of fun to watch although I was left wondering how the colour version could be five minutes longer than the black and white version even though they are both exactly the same film… 

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