Body Snatchers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Body Snatchers 

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For my money, Abel Ferrara's remake of a remake--namely Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, based on Don Siegel's classically paranoid 1956 SF adaptation of Jack Finney's effective novel The Body Snatchers--doesn't match the Siegel original, though it's a lot scarier and more memorable than Kaufman's low-key, new-agey version. Kaufman shifted the action from a small California town to San Francisco, while Ferrara--shooting a script by Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli, and Nicholas St. John from a screen story by Raymond Cistheri and Larry Cohen--locates the action in an Army compound in Alabama. Until the end, when the story lamentably collapses into incoherence, the theme--uncertainty about whether family members or friends have been replaced by extraterrestrial replicas spawned by pods, a notion of conformity rich in sociopolitical overtones--affords a lot of queasy moments. Ferrara, whom I prefer dressing up genre exercises (as in King of New York and this movie) to dressing down art movies (as in Bad Lieutenant), swims well in these troubled waters. (Why this picture is being marketed as an art movie is anybody's guess, but the initial reluctance of Warners to release it at all--another mystery--is probably related.) With Gabrielle Anwar, Terry Kinney, Meg Tilly, Billy Wirth, R. Lee Ermey, and Forest Whitaker. Fine Arts.

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