Reely Bernie Horror Fest: Invasion of the Body Snatchers – 1978

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:

(An overused GIF and meme, but still effectively creepy)

Final Score:

3.5 Botanist Nightmares out of 5

20 thoughts on “Reely Bernie Horror Fest: Invasion of the Body Snatchers – 1978

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    1. Thanks, John. October is my month for horror movies, but it’s a lot tougher getting them in with a 9-month old. When she’s older, I’ll make her a fan too!

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  1. I saw the 1956 version. I would say for me, films back then were far scarier because you often didn’t see the monster until the very end of the film. Your imagination can come up with something far scarier for you, than anything a studio could come develop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love it. That’s how I felt about the shark in Jaws and the alien in Alien – they were scarier when unseen and only imagined. How about what your mind conceives when you *don’t* see the baby in Rosemary’s Baby?!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What was it like seeing it for the first time in ‘78? That’s the same year as Halloween’s original. What was the horror scene like back then? How do you compare it to today’s?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the one I know best…big surprise huh? I always liked Sutherland…he is a different kind of actor and presence. Zombie movies usually bore me but I like this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I figured you’d know/like this one. It still holds up. The clothes, corniness, special effects, and hairstyles are all so innocent and endearing. A decent throwback for October 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whew…I went off on a tangent on this one lol…but yes I do like the movie.

        This has nothing to do with what you said…but it made me think of this…the word “dated” bothers the hell out of me…here is the reason. Lets say you did a film based in the 70s today….would it be dated?

        The reason I brought this up…I saw some yahoo review Vanishing Point…he said…oh it’s dated.
        So it’s a movie about a guy in 1971…so…how the hell is that “dated?” If they remade the movie about that guy in 1971…same hairstyles etc…would it be dated?
        If you make a movie about someone in 2010…is that dated?

        Just wondering if you see my point or is it just me?

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        1. Great topic. My mind is racing on this one. As far as setting, clothes, atmosphere, and tactile environment, it is what it is, and the 70s were the 70s, and I love seeing the 70s on the screen in 2021. At the same time, I wonder what the reaction to the 1978 “Invasion” was in 1978. I would think it was “scarier” and more “unsettling.” Today, we’ve been bludgeon blown by so much low attention span crap that this slower, special effects movie won’t be as appreciated by today’s younger audience. We are totally desensitized today. I often have to remove myself from the picture and try to watch the movie from the viewpoint of a neutral “witness” to something “new.” I don’t know. This has always been a tough one for me because, YES, Citizen Kane is probably the greatest movie ever made, but it’s certainly not my favorite. Because it broke ground on so many cinematic elements and did so with such precise execution, I give it high praise. But, as far as the quintessential drama is concerned, I’d prefer The Godfather first.

          Were there some “corny” parts in “Invasion – 1978?” Yes. But, do I appreciate and prefer this style of horror over the CGI-saturated gory junk they make today? Hell yeah!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. A good one today to compare it to is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…that movie could have been made back then

            As far as special effects…yes you have me on that…and possibly acting styles. There were more slower moments in older movies…no question because of the story…which I think modern movies don’t like exploring as much.
            How would the Godfather do today if it was just released? Would the pacing be too slow? I agree about Citizen Kane…I love the movie because…I just love those type of movies.

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            1. I always wish I could be transported to the grand premiere of a movie like Citizen Kane or The Godfather, but I would have to do that with my mind erased of having already seen them to really enjoy the experience for the first time. I’m afraid we will always be saying, “They don’t make them like they used to,” hahaha! Rylan is almost 10 months old, but will she even care about Back to the Future or Poltergeist – the very 80s movies that sculpted my love for movies as a kid?

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            2. Movies like Citizen Kane have been picked apart and stolen from so much that you think…”well I’ve seen this before”…and yes you have in other movies.

              I say yes….Bailey was born in 2000 and Poltergeist was his second horror movie…the first was The Car…and he still likes it and Back to the Future…so there is hope!

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            3. …and that’s why Citizen Kane deserves the praise and homage. It was not only first, it was also well done! (Them fussy millennials, I tell yah!)

              Yay, there’s hope! Gosh, even 1922’s Nosferatu continues to give me the creeps just by how rustic and isolated it feels. You can’t get that with CGI and a bunch of money.

              Liked by 1 person

            4. Nosferatu is downright scary…the use of shadows…his long fingers…just creep me out.

              Also… The Exercist scarred the hell out of Bailey so it works lol…even without CGI.

              Liked by 1 person

            5. I’m totally fine in saying that The Exorcist is the scariest movie I’ve seen. I’ve seen it 5 times, and there are new things that just creep me out every time. It is brilliant, and, yes, that one would scare anyone with a soul.

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            6. It would not go over well today I don’t think…because of the build up…she would be spinning her head within 20 minutes if it was made today lol.

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