Showing posts with label Kevin McCarthy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kevin McCarthy. 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 January 2013

Piranha Blu-Ray Review

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Piranha is Joe Dante's official solo directorial debut, he co-directed some of Hollywood Boulevard. Dante would later go on to make such films as Gremlins, Matinee, the Burbs, Small Soldiers and more recently The Hole and he also hosts the online youtube channel Trailers from Hell which him and other directors do commentary on old film trailers. He also was the creator behind one of my favourite tv shows Eerie Indiana. Joe Dante like too many great directors before him started in the Roger Corman (also a great director in his own right… just watch The Intruder) school of filmmaking.

Piranha isn't one of Dante's finest films at any stretch of the imagination but it's a perfectly fine enjoyable rip-off of Steven Spielberg's much more superior film Jaws. Roger Corman from the start would often do films that rip-off popular films of the time or what was popular in the youth market; for instance during the start of hippie era, he made The Trip which was all about taking LSD (Dante has been trying to get film about making of The Trip off the ground for a while now). The films Corman directed himself would usually be the superior films he made.

The film literally opens with a Jaws video game and has numerous nods to the film throughout the film. Universal tried to sue the filmmakers for spoofing Jaws but Spielberg was so impressed with it's rip-off he later hired Dante to make his best film to date Gremlins and Universal obviously dropped their lawsuit. Piranha like most of Dante's films have a very nice sense of humour of everything it's doing but not in obnoxious way that certain films of this ilk do. The film is also noted for it being the screenwriting debut of John Sayles who would take his profits from the film (and other screenwriting jobs for hire) to make his own deeply personal films.

Overall the film is a amusing rip-off of Jaws while it's certainly not any of the filmmaker's involved best work at all, it's a perfectly decent 90 minutes. It also features great cameos from Corman regulars such as Paul Bartel and Dick Miller. Second Sight has done a very nice blu-ray package with lots of bonus material and also they have starting releasing some interesting cult films of late such as Southern Comfort and From Beyond (will be reviewed later on this site in the year).

Ian Schultz

★★★☆☆

Rating:15
BD Release Date: 28 January 2013 (UK)
Director:Joe Dante
CastBradford DillmanHeather Menzies-UrichKevin McCarthyKeenan Wynn,Dick Miller
Buy:Piranha [Blu-ray] [1978]