Blu-ray Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Olive Signature Collection)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is based on the 1954 science fiction novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney. The movie was directed by the accomplished Don Siegel and stars Kevin McCarthyDana Wynter, Carolyn Jones, Larry Gates and King Donovan, was photographed by Academy Award nominee Ellsworth Fredericks (Best Cinematography, Sayonara – 1958) with production design by Academy Award winner Ted Haworth (Best Art Direction, Sayonara – 1958).

“They’re already here! You’re next!” With these chilling words, Invasion of the Body Snatchers sounded a clarion call to the dangers of conformity, paranoia, and mass hysteria at the heart of 1950s American life. Considered one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, Invasion of the Body Snatchers stars Kevin McCarthy as Miles Bennell, a doctor in a small California town whose patients are becoming increasingly overwrought, accusing their loved ones of being emotionless imposters. They’re right! Plant-like aliens have invaded Earth, taking possession of humans as they sleep and replicating them in giant seed pods. Convinced that a catastrophic epidemic is imminent, Bennell, in a terrifying race for his life, must warn the world of this deadly invasion of the pod people before it’s too late.

This 1956 sci-fi noir creeper takes place in the small town of Santa Mira, California and follows Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) who sees something strange happening to the people all around him. It starts with his patients complaining about their emotionless loved ones and quickly expands to the local authorities, colleagues and even his friends. Miles discovers the shocking truth about what’s actually happening because there’s an alien invasion taking place and the plant-like invaders are taking possession of the humans while they’re sleep and replicating them in giant seed pods.

As the alien invasion slowly grows, Miles and his former girlfriend Becky (Dana Wynter) escape the scene and run for their lives once they’re exposed but the two realize that fleeing this terrifying nightmare is going to be hard for them to do and sadly Becky ends up being another unfortunate victim because she fell asleep. In the end, Miles finds a way to escape his extraterrestrial pursuers and is able to make it to an uninfected area that’s completely unaware of what’s happening in the town next to them. The people Miles warns doesn’t believe him at first until the some shocking proof shows up to back his hysterical cries.

The packaging comes in a nice slipcase. The front features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. There’s a booklet inside that includes some liner notes about the movie and more images. This release comes in a clear keepcase that helps it stand out some from the regular blue keepcases that most Blu-ray releases get. Olive Films gave this 1956 black & white sci-fi thriller a stunning new digital restoration. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition upgrade were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, I had a blast checking out Invasion of the Body Snatchers that ended up being another first time watch for me. I’ve watched the 1978 and 1993 remakes numerous times over the years but somehow the original had eluded me until now. Over the past few years my love for classic cinema has grown by leaps and bounds and I truly enjoy watching old black & white classics like this one because they’re from a much simpler time and the delivery is just different from what we get today. The story about this plant-like alien invasion is extremely interesting because it sets off a what if scenario because who knows, something like this could happen. Maybe? Nah… Anyway, I thought the cast did a really good job and Don Siegel captured the intensity and hysterics that some of the characters deliver while the others (aka the replicants) showed no sign of caring. This sci-fi classic doesn’t rely on special effects but instead on the eerie story, the score and what the central character goes through to escape.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a well executed sci-fi thriller that delivers on all levels and will be available on October 16th. The Blu-ray is limited to 5,000 units so don’t miss out on this one.

Distributor: Olive Films

Run Time: 80 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.00:1) B&W

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special Features: Good Stuff! The impressive list of extras include two audio commentary tracks, a two-part visual essay, featurettes with interviews, location spotlight, title promo, doc gallery and the original theatrical trailer.

  • Audio Commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith
  • Audio Commentary by actors Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, and filmmaker Joe Dante
  • “The Stranger in Your Lover’s Eyes” – A two-part visual essay with actor and son of director Don Siegel, Kristoffer Tabori, reading from his father’s book A Siegel Film (11:54)
  • “The Fear is Real” – Filmmakers Larry Cohen and Joe Dante on the film’s cultural significance (12:26)
  • “I No Longer Belong: The Rise and Fall of Walter Wanger” – Film scholar and author Matthew Bernstein discusses the life and career of the film’s producer (21:08)
  • “Sleep No More: Invasion of the Body Snatchers Revisited” –  Never-before-seen appreciation of the film featuring actors Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, along with comments from film directors and fans, John Landis, Mick Garris, and Stuart Gordon (26:35)
  • “The Fear and the Fiction: The Body Snatchers Phenomenon” – Never-before-seen interviews with Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, along with film directors John Landis, Mick Garris and Stuart Gordon, discussing the making of the film, its place in history, and its meaning (08:19)
  • 1985 archival interview with Kevin McCarthy hosted by Tom Hatten (07:25)
  • “Return to Santa Mira” – An exploration of the film’s locations (01:01)
  • “What’s In a Name?” – On the film’s title (02:16)
  • Gallery of rare documents detailing aspects of the film’s production including the never-produced opening narration to have been read by Orson Welles (12:02)
  • Essay by author and film programmer Kier-La Janisse (09:02)
  • Original theatrical trailer (02:18)

 

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