15 November 2013

Blu-Ray Review - Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

Sci-fi, horror, cult
Release Date:
18th November 2013 (UK)
Philip Kaufman
Donald Sutherland, Leonord Nimoy, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Mccarthy,
[Blu-ray] or [Blu-ray SteelBook]

Philip Kaufman unwitting started the trend of remaking classic horror films with his 1978 reimagining of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It started this trend because it was actually really good and similar remakes followed like The Thing and The Fly. Body Snatchers started life as a novel by Jack Finney and have been adapted 4 times to the silver screen. It was first made in 1956 by Don Siegel and remains the best, the aforementioned 1978 one, the underrated Abel Ferrara take in the early 90s and more the recently the version with Nicole Kidman but let’s try to forget that one.

The film’s protagonist in this take is Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) a San Franciscan heath inspector who hears from a friend Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) that her boyfriend is acting strange around her. Matthew gets his friend in touch with Dr. Kibner (Leonard Nimoy) a psychiatrist. At the same time two of his friends discovered a body that resembles one of them Jack (Jeff Goldblum) that appears to be browing. They call Matt to have a look at it and if he can help

Matt comes down to examine it and heads back to see Elizabeth and finds a pod person version of her growing. Matt gets the real Elizabeth to safety and contacts the police but soon realizes they are pod people. The invasion has started and Matt and his friends can’t fall asleep or they will become pod people as well.

Kaufman’s take is very much of its time it’s set in a post-Watergate world. It has that great 70s paranoia feel and you know from the extremely creepy opening scene something is amidst. This is refined with the inclusion of Robert Duvall’s unsettling cameo as a priest in a playground. It also includes fantastic cinematography from Michael Chapman who also shot Taxi Driver.

It’s one of the finest film remakes of its kind with only The Thing or The Fly surpassing it in quality. Kaufman is a very versatile director who has director stuff like The Wanderers and The Right Stuff and casts the film impeccably. Sutherland feel adds some gravitas to his role, which is rare in the genre. The film also features a cameo by the original film’s lead actor Kevin McCarthy which begs the question is it a remake or sequel.

The blu-ray Arrow has complied is packed to the gills with material; the real highlight is the roundtable discussion with Kim Newman, Ben Wheatley and Norman J. Warren who discuss the film at quite length. The disc also includes a really pretentious interview with Kaufman’s biographer Annette Insdorf along with an interview about Jack Finney from Jack Seabrook and some featurettes from the American MGM blu-ray and a director’s commentary.


Ian Schultz

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