Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Arrow Video: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Philip Kaufman's film of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is one of the greatest paranoid thrillers in the history of ever. It also has a justifiable reputation as one of the best remakes in cinema. It absolutely is, but let's not devalue the original 1956 Don Siegel film either (which I also like quite a bit). The original Jack Finney Body Snatchers novel is just clearly some great source material as it has been made into more than 4 films and endless variations. What's greatest about the 1978 version is that it comes at a time in Hollywood when movies could be really really dark and could end in an extremely unsettling way. It's been said of many older films, but it seems quite unlikely that a film like the '78 BODY SNATCHERS could be made today. the 2007 film THE INVASION does its best but never comes close to achieving the stark, creepy unsettle-itude of Kaufman's film. I mean, it's hard to top one of the greatest closing shots in a movie probably ever. Only in the 1970s. I mean, the film has a certain subtlety to it right from the beginning. If you watch the opening, it's not exactly clear who has been taken over and what they are doing with some kids at the park. It's from a time when Hollywood didn't feel the need to spoon feed every little detail to an audience. They've really come to trust audiences so little these days that it's hard for me to believe there was even a time when a movie like this could have been made by a major studio and released in a bunch of theaters. Among a decade of many great movies, this one still stands out to this day.
One of the things I love about this movie is the cast. Donald Sutherland in his prime alone with the lovely Brooke Adams (known to some as the "other" Karen Allen). Brooke's husband is played by Art Hindle, who I now associated almost exclusively with David Cronenberg's 1979 film THE BROOD (one of my favorite horror movies). Hindle is kind of a perfect 'blank slate' to play a pod person. He gets much more worked up in THE BROOD, but overall his demeanor, manner of speech and cadence are that of a pretty calm, almost boring gentleman. He also has a very serious face, one that in its natural state almost has a sort of turned-down grimace look to it. What I am getting at though is that he is a perfect fit as Brooke Adams' husband here. I also love that Sutherland is a health inspector for restaurants. It's an interesting job not often depicted in films. There's an amazingly memorable shot of him early on in the film, examining some food with a blacklight. His eyes are made to glow in this very inhuman way and I will never forget it. In fact, I am surprised I haven't seen that shot ripped off more often. So you've got Sutherland and then you get not only Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright but also Leonard Nimoy! There's a great party scene at Nimoy's house in the film - good stuff. Also, speaking of jobs not depicted enough in movies, let's talk about Goldblum's and Cartwright's characters' business. They run this mud bath spa type place. As with several bits in this film, there seems to be some sort of holdover from the counter cultural says of the late 1960s. Not that a mud spa is particularly counter cultural, but there's something "hippie-ish" about the place (not necessarily in a bad way). Anyway, this is an interesting and uncommon location for a movie. I've seen a few prior to it that had such a place, but not too many after. It is quite effectively odd as a locale for a big scene like the one it's used for in this film. Something about the bubbling brown mud that seems to add a perfect extra bit of something to make the whole thing work well. As a quick side note, I miss the days of the 1970s where interesting locations were more sought out in my opinion. Unconventional landmarks and business were often used in quite memorable ways. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is at once unique and nondescript almost at the same time. It is supposed to have that feeling of "any urban city USA" to help allow the paranoia to creep in more ominously onto we the viewing pods...

This Arrow Blu-ray is part of a year's worth of great releases from them and includes an awesome selection of supplements - equal to a Criterion disc's worth for sure:
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film
-An Audio commentary with director Philip Kaufman.
-Pod Discussion: A new panel conversation about Invasion of the Body Snatchers and invasion cinema featuring critic Kim Newman and filmmakers Ben Wheatley and Norman J. Warren.
-Dissecting the Pod: A new interview with Kaufman biographer Annette Insdorf
-Pod Novel: A new interview with Jack Seabrook, author of “Stealing through Time: On the Writings of Jack Finney” about Finney’s original novel ‘The Body Snatchers’.
-Re-Visitors from Outer Space: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod – a documentary on the making of the film featuring Philip Kaufman, Donald Sutherland, writer W.D. Richter and more.
-The Man Behind the Scream: The Sound Effects Pod – a look at the film’s pioneering sound effects
-The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod – cinematographer Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) discusses the look of and influences on the visual style of the film.
-Practical Magic: The Special Effect Pod – A look at the creation of the special effects from the opening space sequence

-Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh.
-Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Cairns, as well as re-prints of classic articles including contemporary interviews with Philip Kaufman and W.D. Richter, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

This new Blu-ray can be found at Amazon UK or at Arrow's Site:
It is a Region 'B' disc so you will need a region free player to view it in the U.S.

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