May 6, 2023

Don't Go To Sleep

Remake Double-Take: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
This is one of my favorite events of the year at the Mahoning Drive-In TheaterLast season, we got to see back-to-back screenings of The Fly, starting with the original 1958 classic and ending with the 1986 masterpiece from David Cronenberg.  This year, we got to enjoy the 1956 and 1978 versions of one of the most impactful science fiction stories of all time: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

The first meeting of the Mahoning Book Club took place on the lot prior to the gates opening.  This was started by Sandy, who is not only the Mahoning's merchandising manager (you'll find her working at the merch table on most nights), but also a published writer and an English professor at East Stroudsburg University.  In addition to all of that, she's a hell of a nice person.  I really wanted to be there for the book club, but we had to work until 5:00 and the meeting was over by the time we were able to get to the lot for the club's discussion on the story that inspired the film, The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney.

The next meeting of the book club will be a discussion of The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.  It's scheduled to take place prior to Night Two of Haunted House Party, which is on a Saturday when we're both off of work, so barring any major catastrophe, we'll definitely be there!

Artist Tom Bifulco created the design for both the poster and the t-shirt.  They also had coasters and some new merchandise available for the 2023 season at the drive-in.

The first feature of the night was the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers from 1956.  This is the second time that we got to see this film at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.  We first saw it two years ago at the final night of Schlock-O-Rama V when it played as the second half of a double feature with War Of The Worlds.  It's an absolute must-see for any fan of sci-fi, horror, of movies in general, and it has a very different feel than any of the remakes that I've seen.  The people who have been replaced by the pods don't act like mindless zombies, but instead just come across as apathetic and devoid of emotion.  The Dr. Bennell character has a line in the film that sums it up best: "In my practice, I've seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away, only it happened slowly instead of all at once. They didn't seem to mind... All of us... a little bit... we harden our hearts, grow callous."  In other words, the end result of becoming a "pod person" isn't too dissimilar to what happens to many of us as we grow older and lose our passion for the things that were once dear to us.  You don't need an alien invasion to become a "pod person".

The 1978 remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is one of the greatest sci-fi/horror films of all time.  The first time I saw this movie was when I was a teenager and living with my grandparents in West Hazleton.  I was in a car accident early in the summer, and I worked at Blowout Video where I could rent as many movies as I wanted for free, so I spent a lot of time that year alone in my bedroom watching movies with a bucket of popcorn.  This is one of the movies that sent a shiver up my spine that stuck with me for a long time.

I've never watched both versions of the film back-to-back before last night.  Even though the concept is the same, this is a significantly different story from the first film.  It has a lot more character development and a surreal and eerie feeling that gets under your skin as you watch how it unfolds.  Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams deliver one of the best performances of a male and female lead that I've ever seen.  The tension between these two is thick throughout the film, but they don't beat you over the head with it.  Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright are also brilliant.  If you haven't watched this movie before, you really should.

And that's a wrap on the 2023 edition of Remake Double-Take.  If you're a fan of the Mahoning Drive-In Theater and you haven't had the opportunity to check out one of these events, it's an experience that you won't forget and I highly recommend that you come and check it out!