I Love You Alice B. Toklas!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Lake Placid

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968) *** Harold Fine (Peter Sellers) is an uptight lawyer, a member of the Establishment. His longtime girlfriend Joyce finally has pinned Harold down on a wedding date, and his life seems to be settling down. But wait! Harold meets Nancy, a friend of his hippie brother, at a family funeral. Turned on by her free thinking, free loving, and free living, Harold leaves Joyce at the altar to be with Nancy. He drops out of society and into hippiedom! Sellers isn’t the most likely person to play this role, but he’s very good in it. Leigh Taylor-Young, as Nancy, is positively ravishing. The movie takes you back to the late sixties, even if you’ve never been there. All the sights and sounds are lovingly created by director Hy Averback. And the script! Nearly every aspect of counterculture society in the late sixties is covered, and there’s hardly a stagnant scene. In particular, the wild parties at Harold’s apartment and the scene where the policeman come upon Harold and Nancy in the backseat of his car are real gems.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) ***1/2 Before I saw this 1956 classic, I saw the 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland, and I found THAT pretty scary (then again, I saw it years ago, when I was a lot younger). Going back to this version, however, I found myself turning on lights around the house, looking for pods, etc.

By now, you should know the basic plot. Aliens apparently have landed in Everytown, USA, and are hatching pods in the basements of normal, everyday Earthlings that are basically clones of the house’s inhabitants. As soon as the person falls asleep, BANG! Their clone takes over.

Kevin McCarthy plays a perfect Everyman in this, and Don Siegel does a wonderful job pacing the film. There isn’t much time to dwell on how someone’s uncle’s been taken over by aliens, because LOOK OUT! They’re coming right for you next! McCarthy’s character gets to explain everything to the police in a flashback, and even as he speaks – and you don’t yet know what’s going on – you feel a shiver or two or three creep up your spine. He looks like a normal person, and yet he’s raving about aliens…

It’s a classic, folks. Watch it.

Lake Placid (1999) ** So let me get this straight. We have a monster movie called “Lake Placid” that’s not set in a LAKE called “Lake Placid” because – as one of the movie’s character’s says, “We heard that name was taken.” Ohhhh brother. So we know we’re already in trouble, don’t we?

Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) is the Authority Figure in Charge here, and the actor does it with typical Bill Pullman grit, squinting his eyes and clenching his teeth so much you start to fear he’ll develop receding gums right before your eyes. He’s joined by very-reluctant-museum-researcher Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) who is so thoroughly obnoxious, repugnant, and dislikable from the get-go that you openly wish this prehistoric crocodile eats her right up, like an acidic hors d’oeuvre. Thankfully, her character mellows out a little, with a not-too-subtle thrust-and-parry, wink-wink-wink with Pullman. And believe me, I DO mean “not-too-subtle.” But then again, I get the feeling that the writers of this movie aren’t really in favor of subtlety.

Joining this sly but bickering duo is Oliver Platt, playing some kind of crocodile expert, the eccentric kind who lands his own plane on the lake. Platt, a gifted actor, gives one of the hammiest performances this side of Marlon Brando. The writers of this tripe, you see, have Kelly and Jack as one pairing and Oliver Platt and Brendan Gleeson (as the sheriff, who looks a heck of a lot like the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island). A hidden theme, perhaps? Well, let’s not give them that kind of credit, okay?

Oh yes, I almost forgot, there’s a crocodile. Big sucker, too, about 30 feet long, and – in a roundabout, convoluted way – the movie tries hard to convince us it’s a prehistoric leftover. (Like we care! Show us the gore!)It’s in this film early and often, and we get to see it devouring such normal cuisine as cows, horses, etc. Swallows them whole, too, and that IS fun to watch. Hey, we’re not paying to see Oliver Platt, are we? Heck no! We wanna see the croc! At least in this, the makers of this movie don’t really fail us. Sure, there might be a threadbare plot, and characterizations as shallow as those you might find in a XXX movie, but the effects and action are there, at least. It’s the film’s only saving grace, really.

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2 Responses to “I Love You Alice B. Toklas!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Lake Placid”

  1. 341 - The Invasion « Frothy Ruminations Says:

    […] 2007 Unexpectedly, The Invasion is a jarring, terrifying remake of the 1956 and 1978 versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, managing to update the widespread panic of the 1950s – owing to the Cold War and the looming, […]

  2. Frothy Ruminations » Blog Archive » 341 - The Invasion Says:

    […] The Invasion is a jarring, terrifying remake of the 1956 and 1978 versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, managing to update the widespread panic of the 1950s – owing to the Cold War and the looming, […]

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