Pods, Pranks, and More on ...Body Snatchers!

Invasion of the Body Snatchers was the landmark science fiction film released in 1956 that grossed over 1.2 million dollars. It expertly played on the post-war paranoia and established itself as an anchor for future sci-fi classics, including other adaptions of the same story.

1. The pods cost $30,000.

The film was shot in just 23 days for a cost of approximately $380,000. That makes the pods about 7% of the budget. At the time, some considered the film to be a B picture, but the lasting legacy of the film, which also influenced the 1978 version. 

2. No one liked the film’s title.

Except the studio. While the film was based on The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, they worried audiences would associate it with The Body Snatcher starring Boris Karloff. Kevin McCarthy “Sleep No More” as the new title, borrowing from Hamlet’s famous “To Be or Not to be” soliloquy, but the director said that the “pods” upstairs didn’t go for it.

3. Originally, there was more comedy.

Director Don Siegel, Producer Walter Wanger, and Production Designer Ted Haworth snuck a rough cut into a local theater and recorded the audience’s lively reactions, from laughs to shrieks. Besides being angered by the unofficial and unsanctioned preview, the studio didn’t think the laughs belonged and had editors take them out.

4. They met with author.

Don Siegel, producer Walter Wanger, and screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring met with Jack Finney to discuss their movie adaptation and also to view Mill Valley, which was the template for the fictional small town. In fact, they wanted to shoot there but for budgetary reasons, they shot mostly in Beachwood Canyon and Sierra Madre, where parts of Scream, Family Plot, and Halloween 2 were also filmed.

5. Years later, Sierra Madre was pranked by pods.

A dispute arose in the city council and a frustrated creative who’d seen the film played on a local station create papier-mâché pods and left them in a city square. At the next meeting, the police presented each council person with the pod that bore their name.

6. Kevin McCarthy and Don Seigel appear in the remake.

The original film ends with Kevin McCarthy running into the street to warn every one of the coming invasion. The remake pays tribute to this and McCarthy runs into the main characters shouting the same warning. “It was as if… I was, twenty year later, still running all over the pace, trying to convince people of the pod menace," said McCathy.

7. The original ending was different.

The original ending simply had McCarthy’s character shouting his warning into the camera. Studio head Steve Broidy (who also wanted the comedy cut) thought the ending was too bleak, so McCarthy was called back and additional scenes were shot to hint that the pod people invasion would be stopped.