Origin/Director: USA/Philip Kaufman
Viewings Tally: This was my first time watching this! I saw the 1956 original a while ago, as well as the 1993 and 2007 remakes, but this 1978 version got away from me.
Synopsis: The first remake of the paranoid infiltration classic moves the setting for the invasion from a small town to the city of San Francisco and starts as Matthew Bennell notices that several of his friends are complaining that their close relatives are in some way different. When questioned later, they themselves seem changed, as they deny everything or make lame excuses. As the invaders increase in number, they become more open and Bennell, who has by now witnessed an attempted “replacement,” realizes that he and his friends must escape or suffer the same fate. But who can he trust to help him and who has already been snatched? [Letterboxd]
Reely Bernie’s Take:
Where the 1956 original embraced the undertone of McCarthyism paranoia, Philip Kaufman’s remake is more a farewell to the flower-wearing hippies of San Fran and a welcoming of the Baby Booming industrialists. This alone might be a “scary” allegory, but the real goods are found in the tangible gloppy-gloop special effects, incessant and erratic pacing, and old school minimalist effects created by Foley artists.
Alarm clocks, heartbeats, and footsteps abrasively take over the dialogue, Jeff Goldblum presumably goes over the top with his performance, and the score goes even further. Most shots are in the dark, and the constant “Is that one of the bad guys?” befuddlements contribute to a menacing atmosphere.
Although a bit straightforward and occasionally irritating (Goldblum is always off the hook), this sci-fi horror remains a gem that must be seen again or for the first time!
The Shot that Won’t Let Go:
3.5 Botanist Nightmares out of 5