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Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Blu-ray Review

5 Stars


Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Blu-ray Review

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You already suspect it, now you must admit it.  People are turning on you.  Everywhere.  They simply cannot be trusted.  That’s basically the premise – the motif – that Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers spins its dark web off of from the 1956 original directed by Don Siegel.  As far as science fiction B-movies go, this is the most “human” paranoia and intellectualism gets.  Both wicked and full of compassion, this remake gets everything correct, making it damn-near the only version of pod-people to ever really see.

Opening deep within the recesses of space as stringy alien beings leave their home planet and descend onto the earth’s surface, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, made in 1978, tells the story of how two Health Inspectors, Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) and colleague Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams), discover that their friends, lovers, and strangers alike are being replaced by pod-like beings evolving from exposure to an evolving plant life stemming from the alien landings.  Playing upon the paranoia-fueled fears of an entire population as one-by-one they turn to aliens, Sutherland is aided by the cosmic wisdom from his friend Dr. David Kibner (Leonard Nimoy) and Mud Bath owners, Jack Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum) and wife Nancy (Veronica Cartwright).  Chilling and campy, note-for-note Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a certified hit, still working for today’s audience.

Kaufman is a master in the director’s chair, striving for authenticity with this film as the camera “walks” through the weary streets of San Francisco.  Kaufman recreates what was once done in black-and-white with fleshy color tones by adding a lot more campy precision and classic visual styling than the original.  This is visual paranoia at its best.  Alongside cinematographer Michael Chapman, Kaufman makes the camera an active part of the film with an emphasis on film noir techniques of a by-gone era: lots of shadow play and lots of Hitchcockian expression.  This gung-ho attitude is still edgy and shockingly perfect for the paranoia established by the film’s tone.

With honorable cameos from Don Siegel and Kevin J. McCarthy, the camp factor is, of course, obligatory high; however, the film – working as a masterful stroke of highly-charged paranoia – is a stunningly effective film of absolute creepiness.  This duplicity in character is edged-off by a marvelous portrayal of friendship between Sutherland and Adams.  Supremely human, only those without a heart – say a pod-person, for example – would not be affected by Adams’ proof of not being crazy when she does that “thing with” her “eyes”.  Even its jazzy score, composed by Denny Zeitlin, works to charm over the audience as the world quickly goes to Hell; humanity replaced with the unfeeling coldness of the pod-people.

Truly a classic example of how remakes should be done, Kaufman’s film is highly original, warning of the impending “sameness” of the 1980’s.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers kicks with the stubbornness of a mule because it knows what you don’t; something important; something that could save your life.

The aliens aren’t coming.

They are already here.


Component Grades
Movie
Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars
5 Stars
Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Blu-ray] + DVD Combo
Available on Blu-ray - September 14, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, French, Spanish
Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio English; Dolby Digital Audio English; Dolby Surround
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc + DVD disc

Arriving on a two disc format, Invasion of the Body Snatchers can be viewed either in Blu-ray or on DVD.  With no sign of DNR manipulation, this HD transfer is near perfect keeping the film’s grainy appearance intact.  While there are a few light-to-dark granulations in a few spots, the transfer is certainly top notch.  The sound also comes in choice, either in a DTS 5.1 Master Audio track or a Dolby Surround track, is also a huge improvement.  Full of tension and ambience, the sound blisters from the speakers with a fierce stimulation not heard from the movie in years…maybe ever.

Supplements:

Commentaries:

  • The only audio commentary is found on the DVD.  It is from Kaufman himself and is a true delight for fans of the film and of the director as many secrets are revealed behind the filming of the movie.

Featurettes:

  • Re-Visitors From Outer Space, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Pod (16 mins): Made recently, this featurette provides a glimpse into the film and its impact.  It also features interviews with some of the cast and filmmakers responsible for its success.
  • Practical Magic: The Special Effect Pod (5 mins):  This Behind-the-Scenes featurette comes clean on its low-bedget and talks about how they made the opening sequence without any dough.
  • The Man Behind The Scream: The Sound Effects Pod (13 mins): This featurette discusses the importance of sound in the genre and in the film and features a lengthy interview with Ben Burt, who created the wonderfully imagined sounds of Kaufman’s film.
  • The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod (6 mins): This featurette goes into detail – albeit too quickly – over the masterful shots created by cinematographer Michael Chapman.

Original Theatrical Trailer

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