Jack Finney's ('Time and Again') seminal 1955 science fiction-horror novel (serialized a year earlier in Collier's), 'The Body Snatchers' (a.k.a.'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'), has been filmed four times, first in 1956, the second in 1978, the third in 1993, and the fourth (and so far, last) in 2007. The1956 adaptation, shot on a limited budget by Don Siegel ('Dirty Harry,' 'The Beguiled') for Allied Artists with Kevin McCarthy in the lead role, is generally acknowledged as a minor genre classic, in part for its anti-conformity, anti-collectivist themes that could be read as a critique of McCarthyism (named after the red-baiting senator from Wisconsin, not the actor), or communism. It was also an effective horror film, building existential dread from the characters' fears and anxieties, that the people they knew and love had been replaced by duplicates, identical in almost every way, but incapable of emotion.
For the 1978 adaptation/remake, filmmaker Philip Kaufman ('Henry and June,' 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being,' 'The Right Stuff,' 'The Wanderers,' 'The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid') switched the setting from a small California town (Mill Valley in the novel, Santa Mira in the 1956), to San Francisco. Kaufman and screenwriter W.D. Richter ('Big Trouble in Little China,' 'The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension,' 'Brubaker,' 'Dracula') swapped out the stifling conformity and claustrophobia of the original's small town setting with the anonymity and paranoia associated with big cities. Kaufman and Richter also added a critique of the "Me Decade," pop psychology books and self-help gurus.