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The Body Stealers (1969)
Director: Gerry Levy

review by J.C. Hartley

Oh dear, a remarkable lack of sophistication in this British SF clunker from the late-1960s, considering the intellectual fare on offer elsewhere, as Moon Zero Two, and Doppelganger (aka: Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun), were surely better than this. Having polished off a bottle of wine while watching it, I woke up the next day unable to remember precisely why the pesky aliens were stealing the bodies of NATO skydivers; having watched the final scenes again, comparatively sober, I was none the wiser.

Parachutists undergoing high-altitude training are stolen in midair accompanied by weird sound effects and cheaper special effects. Lantern-jawed maverick, millionaire-voiceover-artist-to-be, Patrick Allen is called in to model designer cardigans, and get the ladies' hearts a-flutter; and pretty soon he's boffing a mysterious fey blonde he meets on the beach. He's also thawing the heart of a female backroom boffin (see what I did there) who is helping with the inquiries.

George Sanders doesn't even get to take his cap off as a NATO General, although he's as professional as ever, Allan Cuthbertson reprises the sort of petty bureaucrat roles he made a staple of on British TV when playing straight-man to the likes of Benny Hill and Tommy Cooper. And who's that big guy with the slicked-back hair, droopy moustache and Hibernian burr? It's Scotland's most patriotic Mediterranean tax-exile's less box-office brother Neil Connery, in one of his only two big-screen roles, as some kind of aide.

So, the aliens from somewhere beginning with M; are kidnapping these military types because they're conditioned and will be able to adapt better to alien climes - but why..? Well, there's some kind of plague or something. But what's it all for? Well, that's never really explained. Maybe, it's sex, and they're running short of men or something, which would certainly account for the minimalist seduction technique old big chin needed to melt Lorna.

But after a tension-free confrontation at the end, Bob persuades Lorna to let the men go with the promise that he'll organise some kind of expedition or something, despite not knowing where the planet is and the rubber-band-and-catapult state of human space technology at the time. When she asks him if he would really do that for her, Bob looks sheepish and says he would 'try'; so that's a 'no' then.

The high-spot of the film for me was the revelation of the alien's invisible spaceship, which looked like a tweaked version of the Daleks' white, flying-saucer with a tail-rotor, from Daleks - Invasion Earth:2150 AD three years earlier. I'm easy pleased; but this was 90 minutes of my life I won't get back.

The Body Stealers



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