On an army base in Alabama aliens being a plan to replace the human race and a family is subjected to the horror of the takeover.
Loosely inspired by Jack Finney’s novel Abel Ferrara’s version creates a maternal nervousness mostly from overlooked child actor Reilly Murphy who plays Gabrielle Anwar’s Marti Malone half brother Andy. What Andy sees and goes though is quite horrific, conditioned at preschool, chased by soldiers and loved ones, seeing dead bodies fade to dust. Things children shouldn’t see or be subjected too. This Ferrara’s strongest aspect along with some, interesting bloody effects with the pod’s creeping tentacles snaking up into noses, ears and open mouths.
Ferrara’s 1993 version of Body Snatchers never quiet reaches the paranoia of 1956 version or character development of the ’78 remake but it has a good stab at it. Ferrara is limited in terms of creating atmosphere due to the confined setting of a military base but makes the most of shadowy hangers, warehouses and swamp which grows the effective looking pods. Due to the South set base he’s unable to muster Philip Kaufman’s grittiness or raw emotion of his own King of New York (1990) or Bad Lieutenant (1992).
The cast are notably Tilly offers a great looming performance and gets the best lines, memorably – “Where you gonna go, where you gonna run, where you gonna hide? Nowhere… ’cause there’s no one like you left.”. Anwar (23 at the time debatably by default) delivers a fitting subdued, introverted teen. Notable is underrated Christine Elise as Billy Idol-like wild child Jenn Platt and Lost Boy’s Billy Wirth as Anwar’s love interest pilot Tim Young. In addition, there’s R. Lee Ermey and Forest Whitaker in military roles both of which, like the rest of the cast, are sorely underused.
Anwar awkwardly bookends with some dated voice-over narration which adds to the unevenness of Body Snatchers, aside from Tilly, the characters are sketchy and underdeveloped. Some effort is made to give Wirth’s Young a troubled history but its a single throwaway line. Only Miami Vice’s Terry Kinney as Steve Malone gets some meaningful dialogue.
Like Kaufman’s predecessor it features some shrewdly fit in nudity and comes courteous of Meg Tilly and Gabrielle Anwar. But the final act feels rushed and hastily edited with an array of explosions and Ferrara’s 90’s vision feels incomplete.
Overall, choppy studio production issues aside, its an interesting underrated physiological horror.