Science fiction explores of our ancient fears and newest anxieties – including parasites. So it’s no surprise that the scientists featured in Invasion of the Brain Snatchers have something to say about famous parasite sci-fi films.

Alien (1979)

“There’s a natural revulsion to the idea of parasites exploding out of a body of another animal or being able to change the way its brain works. And of course there’s a few reasons why we probably find it really distasteful. One is that it’s just the pure ick factor if you remember from the movie Alien having anything burst out of your body is very unappealing. The other, though, I think is a more subtle fear - the idea of loss of self.” – Shelley Adamo, Dalhousie University

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

“I work on parasites that control behaviour, because I’m interested in behaviour, and most of what’s out there are parasites, so it’s only natural that I would look at that intersection. But it turns out that the rest of the world is also interested in that intersection. There’s a whole range of zombie movies out there, or video games and apocalyptic scenarios. It’s a sociological question as to why we’re so fascinated with zombies, and back in the 50s we were interested in zombies caused by radiation.” – David Hughes, Penn State University

World War Z (2013)

“Now perhaps because we live at higher densities, we’re interested in zombies caused by infectious diseases. And so, in the course of the studies, I’m approached by different people to offer different points of view and perhaps because I like story-telling, I get involved in these things. So we’re involved with Paramount Pictures that are doingWorld War Z, the Brad Pitt movie, very popular. Trying to understand if there were zombies, how would they evolve? How would we think about complicated situations like virulence, a very complicated concept in evolution biology? How would that play into the parasitic hordes that we see among these zombies?” – David Hughes, Penn State University

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

“I actually see the analogy much more clearly Invasion of the Body Snatchers than zombies. Zombies, we could go into the cultural details, but you know, zombies are their own unit – they’re doing somebody else’s bidding that’s physically detached from them. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is pretty straightforward. There’s an alien life form inside of this person that is changing it and doing its own bidding from within, and that’s a better analogy for parasites.” – Kevin Lafferty, United States Geological Survey


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