Ferrara is something of a master of lean, mean genre machines that also contain a meaty dose of socio-political spit and furore. Even here, working on a mainstream property for a major studio, he manages to create something that feels his own. Made today, Body Snatchers would be a two hour plus movie but Ferrara gets in and out in under ninety minutes whilst also leaving enough ideas lingering once the credits have rolled. I love the whole idea of the body snatchers and pod people so to see the concept of Jack Finney’s source novel re-jigged and relocated to a military base is pretty ingenious. It’s the kind of smartass high-concept high-wire act screenwriter Larry Cohen is so good at therefore his presence on script duties here is both felt and welcome.
Bonus points on the casting that features the likes of Meg Tilly, R. Lee Ermey and Forrest Whittaker sharing screen time with more deep-cut genre faces like Christine Elise who most people will remember as Andy Barclay’s sassy foster sister Kyle in Child’s Play 2, if they recognise her at all that is. All those slimy practical effects are a joy to watch as well, with Ferrara taking great pleasure in emphasizing the sexual nature of body snatching that was otherwise skimmed over in previous adaptations. Some of that stuff made me feel genuinely queasy, so the movie definitely had its desired effect. Meg Tilly goes all out as well and tips the film over into the kind of freak-out territory you wish more movies of this vein would dip their toes into. Add to that Ferrara’s pointed digs at the military and conformity and you have a pretty substantial hamburger to gorge on.