Strange Invaders (1983)

Strange Invaders (1983)

“I’m a scientist — I know what I saw. I just want somebody to believe me!”

When his ex-wife (Diana Scarwid) drops off their daughter (Lulu Sylbert) and fails to return, an entomology professor (Paul Le Mat) visits Scarwid’s hometown of Centerville, Illinois, where he learns that aliens took over decades earlier. After being ridiculed by a government agent (Louise Fletcher) specializing in alien sightings, he enlists the help of a Z-grade reporter (Nancy Allen) and the distressed father (Michael Lerner) of an alien-abducted family in learning more.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Aliens
  • Journalists
  • Louise Fletcher Films
  • Nancy Allen Films
  • “No One Believes Me!”
  • Paul Le Mat Films
  • Science Fiction
  • Small Town America

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “follow up to Strange Behavior by director-producer Michael Laughlin and his co-writer, Bill Condon, is strange sci-fi.” He notes that the “first half of [the] film is really impressive, as [the] script is witty (i.e., alien Fiona Lewis pretends to be the Avon Lady):

… [the] direction is bizarre, [and] characters act uniquely.”

However, he posits that “the later scenes are sloppy and more conventional,” and “unfortunately, the final bit in the story virtually erases everything bad that happened earlier” (which is true, though I found this comforting rather than disappointing). Peary asserts that this movie has “a good premise, worth making into a film, but sadly, it doesn’t work.” I’ll agree that Strange Invaders doesn’t quite deliver on what it hopes to do (paying homage to 1950s alien invasion flicks), but I disagree that there are “too many disgusting shots of aliens ripping off their human skins”: they’re not too frequent, and actually really cool-looking.

I also appreciate the clever casting of Kenneth Tobey — star of The Thing (From Another World) (1951), The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), and It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) — as the lead alien in Centerville, who is either deadly serious or creepily smirking throughout many of his scenes.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Impressively gruesome special effects when the aliens reveal their true form

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a one-time look if you’re curious.


2 thoughts on “Strange Invaders (1983)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    A little sleeper from 1983 that had images of its aliens always being reproduced in magazines like Starburst and Starlog. I missed it at the time and finally caught up with it on DVD nearly twenty years ago. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable and off kilter homage / spoof of ’50s sci-fi flicks shot with a pastel-hazy nostalgic look in anamorphic Panavision.

    The performances are quirky and the aliens gleefully nasty as they dissolve humans into glowing orbs of blue light and fire lightening bolts from their fingers. The SPFX and makeup are excellent.

    Not a classic but it’s great fun. However, not a significant film in any way so not must see.

  2. Agreed; not must-see, though sci-fi fans will likely appreciate its homage-factor to such films of the ’50s.

    All told, the film doesn’t quite gel; its overall point seems to have been fudged. Reportedly, the filmmakers had differences of opinion with the producers, which harmed the film. Acc. to Wikipedia: “The financial backers influence reduced the film’s scope. For example, in the original script, the American government was a much bigger threat, with a big sequence taking place at an Air Force base. These changes bothered Laughlin, because they resulted in a lack of a well-defined middle section in the script.”

    ‘SI’ comes off as a missed opportunity, with its potential going unrealized. At various points in the film, I thought: ‘Huh?’

    A real plus, however, is Lerner’s sensitive and sympathetic performance as the man who lost his wife and children and later assists Le Mat and Allen. (Before his appearance here, Lerner worked largely in television. He has kept quite busy over the years, but I noticed him most prominently – and hilariously – as studio mogul Jack Lipnick in ‘Barton Fink’.)

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