Showing posts with label 1978. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1978. Show all posts

15 November 2013

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

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Genre:
Sci-fi, horror, cult
Release Date:
18th November 2013 (UK)
Distributor:
Arrow
Director:
Philip Kaufman
Cast:
Donald Sutherland, Leonord Nimoy, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Mccarthy,
Buy:
[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


28 September 2013

Blu-Ray Review - Convoy 35th Anniversary Special Edition

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Rating:
12
Distributor:
StudioCanal UK
DVD/BD Release Date:
30th September 2013 (UK)
Director:
Sam Peckinpah
Cast:
Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Ernest Borgnine , Walter Kelley
Buy Convoy:
DVD

Convoy is in the surprisingly in the very long lineage of films based on songs which seem to go back almost as film itself. The film is based on the trucker anthem Convoy by C. W. McCall. It’s also directed by one of the finest directors of the 60s and 70s Sam Peckinpah but this is by far one of his worse films but that doesn’t mean it does have some merits.

The film is kinda like a tamer and cheesier version of Vanishing Point without the amphetamines or existentialism. It’s about a bunch of truck drivers led by Martin "Rubber Duck" Penwald (Kris Kristofferson) who are driving though Arizona. They group together in a many mile long convoy to protest police corruption (it also starts due to Duck and 2 truck driver friends who are forced to pay Sherriff Dirty Lyle) and shady political dealings. Duck is however adamant they are just driving and there is nothing more to it. Ali MacGraw rides along with The Duck after she flirts with him in the opening scene but her car breaks down and she needs a ride.

The film is a mildly funny comedic romp but the film is sadly really the film that ended the career of one of the great autuers Sam Peckinpah. He also had a serious drink and coke problem by this point, which didn’t help matters. The film was a surprise hit and was most the successful film of his career ironically. It was also clearly made so Peckinpah could have a hit. Despite it’s success Sam had became too much like Bennie in his masterpiece Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and would sabotage anything that came his way. It’s also rumoured that Sam’s old buddy James Coburn directed a bulk of him because Sam was too messed up on booze and coke.

The film’s crowning achievement is this wonderful slow-motion fight in a dinner that is in the higher thresholds of cinematic food fights. Kris Kristofferson tries his best with the poor script he was given and he is always watchable. Ernest Borgnine who is also a great psychopath plays the evil Sheriff Dirty Lyle. Ali MacGraw is wasted but she was never that good of an actress in the first place. Seymour Cassel pops up as a the slimy governor who is only interested in how the public support for the convoy can help his own political career.

Overall it’s sad Peckinpah scooped this low but it’s perfectly watchable and I’ve seen much worst films by noted directors. It’s a mildly entertaining romp with a great food fight and good performance from Kristofferson who tries his best. It does however have a wonderful blu-ray with a documentary on the film that is over an hour along with some other features.

★★1/2☆☆

Ian Schultz