Invasion of the Body Snatchers was the landmark science fiction film released in 1956. It tapped into 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 movie made close to $1.2 million at the box office!
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. Inspired by Hamlet's "To Be or Not to Be
soliloquy, Kevin McCarthy suggested Sleep No More as the new title. However, the director said that the “pods” upstairs (aka studio executives) 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, which were everything from laughs to shrieks. The studio, however, wasn't happy about the unofficial and unsanctioned preview. They also didn't understand why people were laughing, so they had those moments removed.
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 experience Mill Valley, which was the template for the fictional small town. 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.
After a dispute during a city council meeting, a frustrated creative, who’d seen the film played on a local station, created 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 everyone about the coming invasion. The remake pays tribute to this, and McCarthy runs into the main characters shouting the same warning. “It was as if twenty years later I was still running all over the pace, trying to convince people of the pod menace," said McCathy, who enjoyed reprising the role.
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 invasion would be stopped eventually.