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The Body Snatchers


A doctor meets a drunkard friend in a bar. They reminisce the times they defiled graves in order to sell the corpses to a medical school.



Air Dates

  • First Run - December 5, 1974
  • Repeat - February 1, 1975





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25 Responses to Episode 0183

"The Body Snatchers" was just not up to par. Still, I gave it 2 stars because it was not completely horrible. This is not the same "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" written in the mid 50s and made into several movies. Court Benson's voice would sound great in a radio ad, but listening to him for an entire episode of Mystery Theater is like listening to those guys in Spanish Novellas whose voices drop three octaves and speak with low-annoying tones. When I hear him speak his lines, I think of Will Feral doing Robert Guilet. I wouldn't recommend this episode.

Davy Joe

I believe it's Howard DaSilva's voice who's the main character, nit Benson's.

Cal Yorgensen

A drunk and a doctor who used to be friends in a bar. The Doctor is reminded of how they used to rob graves to sell cadavers to the medical school.

Nina Travis

Adaptation of the R.L. Stevenson story. It covers the same territory but, as usual, spins out the story a bit. The original story made no great impression on me but it did have a familiar structure for a horror story; with a shock at the very end.

Lina Tub

A drunkard tells the story of his past medical training to be a doctor, and of the source of the bodies on which they learned their trade. It’s a good tale, but the narrative is structured in a strange way. It is like the memory of a time when he told the tale to a friend about the time he was training. Lots of time filler, but a good story nonetheless.


I enjoyed the episode but was disappointed that Wolf wasn't made to pay for his crime. Has anyone read the original story? I am curious as to how it differs from the adaptation. Earlier tonight, I watched the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers (with Leondard Nimoy). Does anyone know if there was ever an RMT episode that had a similar story? The preview at the end of this episode sounded like an interesting episode. Does anyone know what the next episode was and if it was good? The preview sounds like it involves some sort of monster.

T. Sean

Hi Sean. The next ep is 'Frankenstein Revisited'. It's another popular one (aired FOUR times!) with horror elements & allusions of ol 'Frank' himself (both the doc & the creature). Good listen!


I liked this episode for alot of reasons....but the main reason is that I love unhappy endings. Not every story could or should end in death, but I seem to like stories that are not tied up in such a nice bow. When I originally heard the title, I thought it would be like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But I liked this story because it well could have happened. And who knows might have. CardsFan--I am currently listening to the episodes around this time period....I'll let you know if I come upon the episode in the preview.

Steve Jusko

I enjoyed the episode but was disappointed that Wolf wasn't made to pay for his crime. Has anyone read the original story? I am curious as to how it differs from the adaptation. Earlier tonight, I watched the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers (with Leondard Nimoy). Does anyone know if there was ever an RMT episode that had a similar story? The preview at the end of this episode sounded like an interesting episode. Does anyone know what the next episode was and if it was good? The preview sounds like it involves some sort of monster.

J.C. Perds

This was an interesting episode, one that held me from beginning to end. There were a couple of strikes against it, though, at least to my taste. First, I've never cared for Howard Da Silva, who seemed to give exactly the same performance in every show he was in (it doesn't help that he fails to even attempt an accent here, instead sounding glaringly American). And in terms of my own enjoyment, I actually found this script strangely tame, given the shocking gruesomeness of the Robert Louis Stevenson original--Stevenson's climax, in particular, is far more memorable than what RMT offers here.    It's well worth reading (and it's not very long). One of the interesting points in this adaptation is the fact that there is no romance, or romantic triangle, in Stevenson's story; Ian Martin appears to have built this up from an event which happens early on in the original, in which a woman of seemingly easy virtue named Jane Galbraith becomes a victim. Actually, by changing this around, Martin (certainly accidentally) made the RMT version resemble rather closely an episode of Rod Serling's NIGHT GALLERY called "Deliveries in the Rear," which had been broadcast a couple of years before and which features the exact same kicker at the end. (Serling's script, by the way, though not credited as an adaptation of the Stevenson story, probably ought to be.) The Serling influence on RMT has been often discussed here, and I suspect that we have another, sort of back-door (or delivery in the rear?) example of it in this episode. By the way, the Stevenson story had earlier been adapted, and very well indeed, as one of the better films of Boris Karloff, also called THE BODY SNATCHER (1945, directed by Robert Wise). This film is well worth searching out (it's on DVD). It does a tremendous job with Stevenon's ghastly, and very different, climax. Not a bad episode at all, but this one could have been stronger in both acting and writing.


Perhaps if I learned how to read better I'd find the download link sooner! Sorry about that; I guess I was in the habit of clicking on a non-title sort of link. A pretty grizzly story, in a good CBSRMT sort of way. I'm going to check out the Stevenson original since it comes highly recommended. So, was this standard practice in the 19th century? Did most/all medical students need to practice body procurement as well? While I'd thought that the practice was wide-spread, I didn't think that it was overly common amongst the students themselves. An unconnected thought here: I've read that following WWI, that scientists made the first large strides in understanding the physical structure and purposes of the human brain . . . by studying the soldiers who'd survived head injuries. Thousands of them; then corrolating their symptoms to the area of the brain that was injured. No dead bodies really needed; no vivisection; thank god for war! Stevenson was a heck of a writer, eh? Does anyone know how many of his tales were adapted by RMT?

Mr. Greene

Da Silva, is pretty much the go to guy when they just needed an actor for the program at the time. I am glad they didn't go all stereotypical with someone like Fred Gwynne. Was Boris still alive at the time this was made? I thought they could have played up the revelation of the corpse's identity a little better as well. Hey, all in all still not a bad version of the classic tale.


Ditto on the above critique. I enjoyed the episode, but found it a bit static. Dasilva's self-loathing also got a little repetitious. I saw the Boris Karloff movie a year or two ago on Turner Classics and was really blown away by his performance. Makes me sad that people think he was only Frankenstein. They showed it again just a couple of weeks ago. Don't miss it when it comes 'round again.

A. Kelley

There are some very interesting points made in the discussion/review of this show. After listening, I agree that Boris Karloff would have been a great choice. I was also disappointed that Wolfe wasn't made to suffer. The story creates Cameron Fergis (sp?) as a character who is an honorable decent man that has been tricked into doing dishonorable things. His attempts at clearing his conscience (i.e. warning Jeanne about what kind of man Wolfe is, leaving his "studies", has a conscience all these years concerning what he has played a part in, and again refusing to take money when he encounters Wolfe), make me believe that if he ever got the chance to meet Wolfe again, he would make him suffer in some way. At the very least, I was hoping Fergis would buy Wolfe a drink and slip in a little something. This is one of those episodes where the ending either makes or breaks the story. On another point, I couldn't feel bad about what happened to Jeanne. The way the story played out, I felt she was gold digging for whoever made the "Doctor" title first. If Cameron was supposed to be such an intelligent guy, I had a hard time swallowing the notion that he didn't see this either.

John Gallard

It is definitely an interesting episode. One must remember that much of what we call medicinal science was built upon the work done on cadavers, even stolen ones. Does the ends justifies the means? Does the welfare of future millions out-weigh the respect due the body of a dead individual?

L. Hoe

I also have to disagree with many of the posts about Howard daSilva. Though true his performances seem one-dimensional, when given the right story ("COME BACK WITH ME", "THE OTHER SELF", "THE NIGHT SHIFT", "THIS BREED IS DOOMED") his portrayal of world-weary (beaten-down) individuals are heart-felt. Remember, this is only his second CBS RMT episode that he appears in. I believe later the producers chose more wisely what character DaSilva should play. I love this adaptation of the Stevenson's story and believe it is superior in spots, such as introducing the love interests. The writing is so magnificent that one hardly notices that all of Act One takes place in a single setting in real time. CBS RMT nearly always did a good job presenting the works of great authors (O. Henry and M. Twain). 

Lheena A.

I also like DaSilva a bit more than some of the others here. He isn't the greatest but I have certainly enjoyed several of his performances. I had no problem with this one either. As for the story I thought it was entertaining. Not completely engrossing but enjoyable enough. I have listened to this story in various audio presentations (suspense, rmt, etc) so I was fairly familiar with the story. Thanks to Chris Conlin for the link to the original which I have never read. I am looking forward to reading it over the weekend. The discussion this (last?) week has been great. I have thoroughly enjoyed the input from everyone. I found mys42's comment about not being able to feel sympathetic for Jeanne interesting. This one i actually listened to twice. Once when I was working and a bit distracted, after which I had the impression that his drinking and behavior as a result of what they were participating in had driven her away. Upon listening to it undistracted however, it was fairly clear that her shallow behavior in this regard (how easy it was for him to talk her into "changing her dance card" for example) was certainly going on before his drinking problem developed. I should never listen while distracted.

Mr. Baumann

An okay episode. I'm not a fan of how DaSilva delivers in this episode. He seems misplaced. I don't like his voice. It's too flat, too dry. Other than that, it is an otherwise well-written episode.


I liked this episode and finally got around to looking up Stevenson's books and stories to read (Kindle version is only $2.51 for all of them - I should order someday soon). Even though I liked it, it did seem drawn out more than it needed to be. I also (as someone mentioned above) found the Jeanne character not too endearing as she seemed more of a gold digger than a nice person (which our main character doesn't seem to recognize). I hope to read the original story and find out the real ending as someone above alluded to it being better.


I think most of the previous comments totally missed the boat on this one. It was a brilliant episode, even if the plot was unnecessarily changed from the original RLS story. Haunting and thoughtful, with a useful reminder about how far our medical research world has gone. 4 and a half stars.


This was a great episode! Silva is brilliant. I love his speechlessness when he realizes the truth. I cant wait to write a longer review. Lheena A: "CBS RMT nearly always did a good job presenting the works of great authors (O. Henry and M. Twain)." I agree. Radio Mystery Theater did Poe masterfully! Check out 'Fall of the House of Usher' (a Top Three RMT of all time), a very modern 'The Pit and the Pendulum', 'Mask of the Red Death', and 'Cask of Amontillado'


I agree, juror #4. I happen to like Da Silva so I wanted to come to his defense. I particularly enjoyed him in ‘Faith and the Faker’ (?) Not sure I got the episode’s title correct.


I rate this episode ★★★☆☆ for AVERAGE. Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story is a classic that had a surprised ending. But Ian Martin’s adaptation of it didn’t have that kind of an ending, nor did it have a lot of chills in it. In the original story, Robert Knox was the mentor who ordered the main character to get fresh bodies. This episode doesn’t mention his name. Plus, the main character was named “Fettes,” not “Cameron Fergus.” Who knows why Ian Martin changed the names and the ending of a classic tale. The title is catchy, but other titles could’ve worked such as: “Fresh From The Grave” or “The Resurrectionists.” In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall refers to our main character as a Resurrectionist. In ACT-1, the term for it. In ACT-2, quoting lines from Hamlet that connect with the main character’s feelings of remorse. At the end of ACT-3, our Host says he has no moral to offer. WHAT?!? Here’s a moral lesson: If you’re going to medical school, find a better doctor to look up to that doesn’t involve of snatching fresh bodies! Also, there’s no Epilogue; recording was cut off. When this episode was first aired in 1974, I wonder if his Epilogue made a reference to the Burke & Hare Murders of 1828. The sound effects of cups clinking, drinkers murmuring, clock chiming at 11, broken drinking glass, footsteps, doors, horses neighing, pleasant melody tunes, crickets, door pounding, bodies dragging, punching the jaw, and liquor pouring were very supportive. The dramatic music was good, but repeated many times over. Now onto our cast: Howard Da Silva (as Cameron Fergus), Court Benson (as Harry and Dr. Kirk), Patricia Elliott (as Jeannie McRoberts), Ralph Bell (as Dr. Wolfe “Toddy” MacFarlane), and Ken Harvey (as the Digger and Gray). Big props to Ken Harvey and Court Benson for playing 2 roles, Patricia Elliott was wonderful, and Ralph Bell was awesome as the main antagonist. Howard Da Silva has done terrific episodes for CBSRMT such as #0125-THE ONLY BLOOD and #0191-A VERY PRIVATE MIRACLE, but this wasn’t quite the right role for him. CBSRMT should’ve picked either John Lithgow, Russell Horton, Larry Haines, or Mandel Kramer for they have played roles where they felt tensed, paranoid, and filled with sorrow. Anyway, it’s still an entertaining story and fans of Robert Louis Stevenson’s work should check this episode out. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0]


Howard Silva is wonderful! What a rich distinctive voice! He’ll always be Brn Franklin (1776) to me, but it’s a pleasure listening to him do this episode, too! What’s not to like?


The storyline was good, but it dragged out a little long. Silva's voice was not the right fit for an alcoholic with a disturbed past haunting them. Enjoyed the commercials and news! Brings back good memories of younger days! Thanks E. G. Marshall for another good night until next time!


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