Invasion of the Body Snatchers
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San Francisco health inspectors find alien pods are taking over people as they sleep. Directed by Philip Kaufman.
Jack Finney's classic science fiction novel has been the basis of three big-screen adaptations, beginning with the 1956 chiller Invasion of the Body Snatchers and most recently as 1994's underrated Body Snatchers. This acclaimed 1978 version from director Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff) is every bit as creepy as the '56 original, and it fits perfectly into the cycle of paranoid thrillers that thrived in American movies of the 1970s. Kaufman stylishly directs from an intelligent screenplay by W.D. Richter, while Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams lead a distinguished cast (including Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, and Veronica Cartwright) and must fight for survival as the population of San Francisco is systematically cloned by alien "pods" from a distant, dying planet. The atmosphere of dread and paranoia grows increasingly intense as the complexity of the alien invasion is gradually revealed, until nobody can be trusted to be who they appear. Finely tuned performances enhance the film's eerie atmosphere, highlighted by moments that will lurk in your memory long after the movie's over. MGM's DVD release includes a full-length audio commentary by Kaufman, a "pod culture" retrospective, Body Snatchers trivia, production notes, and the original theatrical trailer. --Jeff Shannon
- "Pod Culture" Retrospective
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The simple report is, the BD image is patently superior to the DVD edition, in every way. After making a comparison, I saw that some minor image cleanup has taken place, removing flecks from aging. If any DNR went into it, it wasn't done to the extreme of sacrificing details. It also appears as if little or no sharpening was applied, which is a good thing: sometimes these older movies can become a mess once every defect from age is brought into bold relief. The color palette has remained natural, fitting for its noirish intent. However, taken in total, the improvements don't really POP OUT at you, like they often do when you first see the Blu-ray of a favorite movie. At times, a soft, fine, snow-like noise is visible in some dimly lit scenes, but it's not consistently so, and I found it negligible in any case. In all, the end product is just sufficient enough to make it worth the purchase, if only because the DVD edition is so horrendous.
So while it's definitely sharper than the DVD, it wouldn't be worth the PREMIUM price you see for other BDs, that have gone through frame-by-frame restorations. It is, however, easily worth the $10 or so you can get it for here. If you like this film, you might as well jump at it, as I don't think it'll get any better than this.
For extras, there are these featurettes: "Re-visitors from Outer Space, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod," about sixteen minutes, with a few words from the producer and director, with a few of the cast members pitching in; "Practical Magic: The Special Effects Pod," about five minutes long, explaining the special effects; "The Man Behind the Scream: The Sound Effects Pod," describing the sound design, about thirteen minutes long; "The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod," about six minutes long, about the dark camera work. There's also the original theatrical trailer. The soundtrack comes in stereo or 5.1.
There is one very puzzling failure: The commentary track by director Philip Kaufman was not ported over to the BD. For that, you'll have to play the second two-sided DVD (SD widescreen on one side, fullscreen on the other). That's where you'll find the commentary. Why didn't they put it on the BD? Go figure. It shows me that the manufacturer saw this merely as a quick fix to the awful DVD. It's a sufficient, but minimal, effort.
I would have loved to have seen more of the main actors in the interview sections but i fully understand this many years later sometimes they just aren't interested and have moved on with their lives.
I took a star off of this beloved film, as the print isn't anamorphic, and the sound is only Dolby Surround 2.0. The reverb bass that I enjoyed so much in the theater (during the discovery of the body in the bath house, and the "Amazing Grace" scene) really deserves a DD 5.1 mastering. -