Movie Article


Sure, it's unnerving to see an ordinary mom (Meg Tilly) lose all her emotions after aliens take over her body in Body Snatchers. But what's really creepy about the invasion is watching those pod tendrils slithering into the nose, ear, and mouth of heroine Marti Malone (Gabrielle Anwar) as she sleeps in a bathtub. ''It's a very simple effect, actually,'' says Tom Burman, who with his wife, Bari Dreiband-Burman, created pod effects for the movie (Tom had the same job on the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers). To film the tendrils invading Anwar's head, they placed the strands (actually made out of a soft vinyl) where they wanted them to end up. As the camera rolled, the duo pulled the tentacles away; the finished sequence plays the action in reverse. They used the reversal technique for other shots of the tendrils (such as the creeping-down-the-bathroom-wall sequence), but they sometimes switched to stop-motion animation of the tentacles over a dummy. ''We could make these little tendrils writhe around and move in a way that didn't look like reversal,'' Burman says. ''If you just did reversal, you'd always come back to the same movement and the audience would soon discover how you did it.''

Originally posted Mar 04, 1994 Published in issue #212 Mar 04, 1994 Order article reprints

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