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Invasion of the Body Snatchers
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When filmy spores fall from space and take root in San Francisco, the city is beautifully transformed by spectacular and exotic flowers. But these lovely extraterrestrial blossoms have gruesome plansfor their earthly admirers: to slowly clone their bodiesand then dispose of the originals! "A first-rate suspense thriller" (Newsday), this sci-fi adventure is a "chilling" (Leonard Maltin), "dazzling" (The New York Times) and "stunning" (Cosmopolitan) thrill ride that will send your pulse rate soaring! From a brilliant screenplay by Academy AwardÂ(r) nominee* W.D. Richter, filmmaker Philip Kaufman directs an all-star cast that includes Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Brooke Adams and Leonard Nimoy. With its mesmerizing style and awe-inspiring special effects, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is "a classic of the genre" (New York Post) a terrifying tale that "literally chills the blood" (The Hollywood Reporter)!
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But Scream! Factory does an excellent job in picture restoration. Plus they add oodles of extras that fans will just love
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.
After a rather needless and overly expository setup, explaining the migration of some suspicious-looking alien microbes to Earth from some distant planet, INVASION gets going pretty quickly, with a lab inspector from the department of health in late 70s San Fransisco named Elisabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) beginning to notice some unpleasant changes in her live-in boyfriend, the handsome dentist Geoff Howell (Art Hindle). She's also noticed a weird new type of flower blossoming all over town, and has even taken a specimen to the lab for analysis. She confides in fellow health inspector Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland), who has an unrequited crush on Elisabeth, but Bennell simply recommends she go speak with his close friend, a glib Dr. Phil-type psychologust named David Kibner (Leonard Nimoy). Kibner remarks that a number of people have come to him in recent weeks expressing feelings that the people they know are NOT the people they know, but have changed in some inexpressible way. They look the same but appear emotionless and cold. When Bennell's other friends, Jack and Nancy Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright) discover hard evidence that people are in fact being "substituted" via a weird and horrible process related to the mysterious plants springing up over town, the evidence vanishes and our gang of reluctant heroes tries to raise the alarm, only to discover that that the substitutes have already insinuated themselves in key positions all over town, and have identified the gang as threats to their nebulous agenda. Some of them just want to escape the city, but Bennell realizes that unless these "plants" are cut off at the root, the invasion will soon spread its tendrils across the country...and the world.
INVASION is by no means a perfect movie, it has a shaky beginning and is often undermined by the script's determination to throw in needless exposition (the explanation of where the pods come from would have been better left out under the ALIEN principle of "not explaining backstory can be scary as hell"). There are some plothole problems, too, relating to the relationship between falling asleep and getting taken over and reproduced by the pods. But as a horror movie it achieves exactly what it sets out to do. "Horror" is defined as the anticipation of a terrifying outcome, and as the movie progresses the horror deepens, aided by supremely effective use of camera tricks to add to Bennell's sense of being isolated and increasingly paranoid. San Fransisco, a lovely backdrop at the film's opening, becomes more and more a hostile environment full of blank-faced, sullen-eyed people who may...or may not...be pod people. In addition (and like ALIEN, which ironically also had Veronica Cartwright in it), the film doesn't spare its characters and uses the "no one is safe" method to ramp up suspense. There is also a claver and amusing cameo by the star of the original SNATCHERS, Kevin McCarthy, who more or less repeats the notorious ending of the original movie about midway through this one.
The author of the novel on which these movies was based, Jack Finney, told Stephen King in DANSE MACABRE that the tendency of people to see the book/films as right-wing warnings about communist infiltration, or left-wing warnings about the paranoid quality of McCarthyism (variations on the theme of the Red Scare), were both in error. The concept, Finney said, was simply meant to entertain. And however this Philip Kaufman version departs from the original book/movie (set in a small California town rather than a big city), in that area it succeeds. SNATCHERS is a creepy, atmospheric horror movie, a paranoiac's worst nightmare come true, and well worth a watchin'.