6. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Cold War made everyone incredibly paranoid. They were worried that their own neighbors could be the enemy. There would be no way to tell until it was too late. You wouldn’t know whom to trust.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers plays on that paranoia. Close friends and relatives start acting in peculiar fashion. People you have known for ages start acting delusional and accusing people of having been replaced by someone else. What is worse, lots of seemingly rational people acting crazy or people responding in emotionless ways? Even worse, what do you do?
There are several versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers out there. Especially effective is the 1978 version which moves the location from a small town to San Francisco.
Introduction into society was a big part of a girl’s life. Lavish parties were thrown so that connections could be made and eligible bachelors could be met. Maintaining the standing of your family was paramount. Etiquette and maneuvering between important people was a way of life.
Society is very much the 80’s take on these ideas. There is lots of hairspray and questionable fashion all over this movie. Bill worries that he is not like his family. He doesn’t fit into the groups that his parents belong to. Bill is especially hurt to find out that his sister is going to be introduced all of the various powerful people in town while he is being left behind.
When Society comes together, it quite literally comes together. The films goes into some darkly humorous places that can’t be discussed without spoiling major plot points. Just know that “shunting” is involved and that you have been warned.
8. The Stepford Wives
Women had gained so many freedoms in the late 60s and early 70s. The idea that a woman was stuck in the house beholden to her husband was being obliterated. Reproductive rights had drastically changed. A woman was free to be her own person.
But in the town of Stepford Connecticut women were filling much more traditional roles. Cooking gourmet meals. Performing laborious cleaning. Constantly doing laundry. All just to make their husbands happy.
With women continuing to gain new freedoms every day, traditional gender roles were quickly becoming a thing of the past. Those that longed for those days were open to nefarious ways of attempting to shift those roles back to what they had once been. And showed what a threat these small freedoms were to those that fought against them.
Myths can be another powerful way to tell stories with social commentary in them. They can illustrate the ills of a society and strive to give a warning to those that might ignore their advice. Generations retell the same stories over and over again in hopes that someone will finally listen.
Candyman uses myth as a way to show how things haven’t really changed. It illustrates how very old wounds can still burn hot today. African Americans had been completely marginalized as a race for generations and are still in similarity bad situations in the projects of Chicago. The stories continue to be the same because the outcomes continue to be the same.
Credit has to be given for the film adaptation by Bernard Rose for taking some real chances with the story. Originally set in England, Candyman was a pale white man with thin blonde hair and essentially a retelling of the Bloody Mary urban legend. There really was no subtext to the story at all. The filmmakers added the interracial love story and moved the setting the to government housing on the south side of Chicago.
How much is too much? What goes too far? Should we be allowed to decide for ourselves? And what channel do I watch it on?
Videodrome was far ahead of its time. With the advent of cable television there were people who wanted to push the envelope. People who want to display graphic sex and extreme violence. Too much was never enough. Videodrome encapsulates the fear of being careful what you wish for because you might just get it. Do you want torture? Mutilation? Body modification? It can be yours.
These almost seem like quaint questions and ideas now. The lines between real and fake are as blurred as ever. There is no too far with the internet. If you want it, it is there. Long live the new flesh.