David Leslie Johnson, whose credits include The Conjuring 2, Orphan and Wrath of the Titans, as well as the upcoming The Conjuring 3 and Dungeons and Dragons, has been tapped to write a new version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, according to Deadline. John Davis (The Predator) will produce.
Jack Finney wrote the novel that started it all, titled The Body Snatchers. First published in 1954, it envisioned the town of Mill Valley, California under invasion by seeds from space that have drifted to Earth. The seeds bloom into pods; once in proximity to sleeping humans, the pods grow into exact duplicates of the humans, only without emotions or independent thoughts. The humans then die.
It wasn’t the first science-fiction novel to tackle the idea of plants somehow becoming a threat to mankind — see, for example, John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids — but the premise became etched into popular culture by its first screen adaptation, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Starring Kevin McCarthy, and directed by the great Don Siegel, the movie was later interpreted by many as a political allegory about the dangers of conformity.
McCarthy appeared briefly in the version released in 1978, also titled Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Directed by Philip Kaufman, the movie’s setting was moved from a small town in California to San Francisco. While the original filmmakers insisted they were only interested in making a thriller, this version’s creative talent were more obviously interested in adding cultural and political commentary, making for a very powerful experience that remains relevant today. Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright and Leonard Nimoy starred.
Abel Ferrara’s 1993 version, simply titled Body Snatchers, moved the action to a military base in Alabama and focused on direct parallels between military behavior and “the pod people,” grown from alien seeds. Gabrielle Anwar, Meg Tilly and Forest Whitaker starred; the movie, which captured the tenor of the times, received mixed to positive reviews.
The most recent version, The Invasion (top), came out in 2007, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Set in Washington, D.C., the movie pushed aside the more dire cultural possibilities of the premise and spent more time on action scenes of the clashes between “the pod people” and supposedly regular humans. The movie was not received warmly, either by critics or by audiences.
The ideas behinds all these movies are potent and rich with possibilities, especially in the current political and cultural climate. We’ll have to wait and see which way the next version seeks to invade our consciousness.