When health official Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) notices that her lover has become strangely distant, this sets in train a series of shocking discoveries that sees both her and colleague Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) fleeing for their lives to the sound of ear-piercing alien screams.
Horror remakes are usually seen as money spinners to make profit on either a degrading franchise or westernise some foreign classics. However, there are times where a remake comes along that not only manages to improve on the original but stand the test of time as well. A prime example of this is John Carpenter’s The Thing. But before that was unleashed in cinemas, There was Philip Kaufman’s 1978 retelling of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Based on both the original 1954 novel and the 1956 film directed by Don Seigel, Philip Kaufman’s adaption ramps up the paranoia and sinister edge and deliver’s the best film adaption of the source novel. Featuring a superb cast consisting of Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright and Leonard Nimoy (sans rubber pointy ears) and great cameos from the 1956 film’s main star and director.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is presented on a BD50 disc with a MPEG4-AVC codec that preserves the film’s original 1:85.1 aspect ratio. Recently restored by MGM for their Blu-ray release in the US back in 2010, Arrow have utilised the same transfer for its UK HD premiere. Aside from a few problematic darker scenes that displayed a bit of noise, the transfer for Invasion of the Body Snatchers pretty much ticks all the right boxes. The picture is clean and free from any dirt or print damage but also has a healthy layer of grain that locks in some of the sharper details in the film’s production design. Not an overly colourful picture but very realistic looking, the colours that are on display are bold and vivid throughout. No edge enhancement or digital noise reduction were observed either.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is presented with two audio tracks. A Remixed DTS-MA 5.1 track that was recently done for the film’s Blu-ray release and a PCM 2.0 track that preserves the film’s original Dolby Stereo audio mix. Opting for the DTS-MA 5.1 for the purpose of this review, it’s a fairly decent mix with some impressive directional effects and panning across the soundstage and it does give a lot of weight to Ben Burtt’s sound design. Sound effects are clear and can be quite over powering causing a bit of unease when on screen which does also support the film’s dreaded sense of paranoia. There is plenty of surround activity going on which is mainly extending a few off screen directional effects and the sinister music score and atmospheric effects. The only issue I had with the sound mix was that I found that the dialogue could sometimes come across a bit weak in certain scenes during the first and second act which did involve adjusting the volume a few times. Switching over to the PCM 2.0 track for selected scenes, separation between the front speakers were good and the audio mix had a nice balance to it without any elements overshadowing the other elements leaving the dialogue crisp and clear. Whilst it’s always good to see Arrow preserving the film’s original audio mix in a lossless format (and as a purist I tend to stick with the original audio) The 5.1 remix is the winner here as it adds some great atmosphere to the film despite the minor issue I noted above. It’s worth noting that Arrow Video did go the extra mile with the film’s audio track by restoring some dialogue that was accidently left off the master audio mix when it was transferred to HD by MGM.
Commentary with Director Philip Kaufman – Director Philip Kaufman delivers an insightful and in-depth commentary that looks at the production of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Discussing the Pod (51:53) – Featuring Kim Newman, Norman J Warren & Ben Wheatley. A sit down interview moderated by Kim Newman who discuss the impact of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and other related topics ranging from the film’s production to casting and remakes to sci-fi films in general. Presented in 1080/24p with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio
Dissecting the Pod (17:24) – A sit down conversation with Annette Insdorf who discusses the work of Philip Kaufman and the production if Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Presented in 1080/24p with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.
Writing the Pod (11:15) – Jack Seabrook discusses the film’s origins as a novel and gives some background on the story’s original themes and the author Jack Finney. Presented in 1080/24p with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.
Re-visitors from Outer Space (16:14) – Cast and crew recollect and reflect on making Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Presented in 480/60i with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio
The Man Behind the Scream (12:47) – Ben Burtt discusses the sound design of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Presented in 480/60i with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio
The Invasion will be Televised (05:24) – A look at the cinematography of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Presented in 480/60i with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio
Practical Magic : The Special Effects Pod (04:38) – A brief look at the film’s eerie opening sequence. Presented in 480/60i with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio
Trailer (02:12) – The film’s original theatrical trailer. Presented in 480/60i with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio
Booklet – A rather in-depth 52 page booklet contained within the packaging rounds it off.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers always freaked me out when I saw it growing up. Having read the original novel and seeing all the cinematic adaptions of it, the 1978 version sits highly as my favourite. Removing the B-movie elements of the original, it’s a tense and creepy film that has never been bettered. Arrow’s Blu-ray presentation of the film again ticks all the right boxes for fans of the film by including some UK exclusive features. Just remember to stay awake……
Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been released in two editions. A standard Blu-ray release featuring reversible artwork featuring newly commissioned artwork and original theatrical key artwork and a limited edition steelbook edition