The Film (5/5)
If you involve yourself in modern horror culture the inevitable remake subject will eventually come up. Some people defend them, some find them deplorable. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I find the post-2000's trend of remaking film's based on title alone to be a useless endeavor, a cash grab meant to make money of a popular title, rather then using an older concept in a new way, but I digress.
A frequent argument for remakes is that some of the greatest icons of cinema of all time were remakes, Ben-Hur, The Maltese Falcon, and so on. Also, frequently brought up are the late 70's and early 80's horror remakes such as David Cronenberg's version of the Fly, John Carpenter's The Thing, and this month’s Scream Factory special edition, Philip Kaufman's iconic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The main difference between the latest slate of remakes and Kaufman’s Body Snatchers and the aforementioned films is that they attempted to spin the older material in a different way.
Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) one morning finds an odd flower/spore next to her bed, she places it in a jar for observation. Soon after she notices a sudden shift in behavior in her boyfriend, which she discusses with work colleague Matthew (Donald Sutherland, Don't Look Now). Matthew whether by attraction to Elizabeth or genuine concern suggest that they speak to a a local self-help writer Dr. Kibner (Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy). The trio begin to observe that same bizarre behavior among other people in the city, and discover that innocent flower is the cause of something much more sinister. This is confirmed with a discovery in a local bathhouse.
Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers trades in the suburban location of the original film for the bright lights and urban vistas of late 1970's San Francisco. This helps to give the film a new feeling right out of the gate. The urban setting though larger in scope helps to create a darker more oppressive and sinister atmosphere than the earlier film.
The film also works heavily in the body-horror playground that Canadian auteur David Cronenberg was just beginning to establish with his early film's like Shivers, Rabid, and the Brood. The FX here are excellent, and while not overly plentiful provide just enough to showcase the more visceral elements of the alien invasion (and please splatter fans). The performances in this version of the film are brilliant with Brooke Adams turning in an excellent Elizabeth, Jeff Goldblum turning in an early version of the droll, yet highly humorous performances he would become known for. Leonard Nimoy has a solid turn as Kibner, but the performance that truly has gone down in history is that of Donald Sutherland as Matthew who offers an intensity that cannot be beat.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is presented by Scream Factory in a solid 1:85:1 1080p AVC encode from a new scan from the inter-positive. I would like to tell you that this a significant upgrade from the prior MGM Blu-ray release of the film, but the differences between the two are minor, though it is definitely an improvement. The film is dark, but colors are well reproduced here, blacks are solid, and detail is quite good throughout. There is a nice organic grain structure that is not intrusive. Noise is kept at a minimum here, and it is quite a solid transfer.
2 audio options are present a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 track in English. Both tracks are quite solid with dialogue and score being audible throughout both presentation. The 5.1 has nice separation of sound and excellent ambiance.
The Blu-ray has a mix of new and archival supplements from past releases. It has multiple commentary tracks. There are interviews with the cast and crew, TV spots, episodes of Sci-Fi TV from the 50's (based on the writings of Jack Finney), featurettes, galleries, and more.
One of the finest sci-fi horror hybrids of all time, Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a true genre icon. The Blu-ray from Scream Factory look and sounds fantastic, and is packed with extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.