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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - Blu-ray Review

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

Jack Finney's 1955 novel "The Body Snatchers" gets remade almost every decade.  If that isn’t the mark of eternal entertainment then I don’t know what is.  Having read the novel, I can tell you that it is terrifying and that there have only been two adaptations worth seeing.  Director Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, from 1956, is where you should start.  Siegel, a B-movie pioneer and mentor to Clint Eastwood, threw everything into this gem and most of it still sticks for today’s audience.

Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) has a story to tell.  Frantic and nearly hysterical, he can only claim to not be insane.  He just wants someone to hear him out.  Dr. Hills (Whit Bissell) gets to be the lucky one.

The aliens have landed.  They aren’t friendly and they are taking over.

Santa Mira, California, you see, has been overrun by aliens.  They emerge from pods and take the forms of friends, neighbors, strangers, and enemies while they sleep.  The real people never wake up.  Pod people take their place in the world.  Bennell, having lost his best friend (King Donovan) and girlfriend (Dana Wynter) to sleep and pods, has outrun them and traveled a great distance to warn others.

No one believes him.

Adapted for the screen by Daniel Mainwaring, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a tight thriller that never outstays its welcome with needless exposition and repetitive scares.  Siegel keeps the action tight and the tension tighter throughout this cold war era thriller and manages to strike a nerve that resonates today.  It’s a cautionary tale about blind conformity and not using your noggin when fear and hype rule the scene.  For America, it’s a cautionary tale we seriously need to heed – which is why it probably gets remade as often as it does.

McCarthy is simply great as the man on the edge of sanity.  His performance is a milestone in the B-movie market and, as popular as the movie became, he would eventually play the character twice more; the most famous being in the 1978 remake where he crashes into the windshield of a car screaming his famous lines.

While the film eventually went down into the culture annuls of time, critics largely ignored its first run in theatres.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers changed the way audiences “read” sci-fi horror films.  Here, with Siegel’s swift construction and producer Walter Wanger’s attention to detail, the film pushes its low budget and drive-in theatrics into places that feel very real.

The film might have sacrificed its original ending (McCarthy screaming while truckloads of pods pass by) to a nervous studio, but that’s no reason to dismiss this little gem from the 1950s.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers is of historical and cultural significance and one of the better B-movies of American cinema.

Let the deconstruction of conformity in the 1950s begin!

{2jtab: Film Details}

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
Director
: Don Siegel
Writer: Daniel Mainwaring
Cast:
Kevin McCarthy; Dana Wynter; Carolyn Jones; Larry Gates; King Donovan; Ralph Dumke
Genre: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
They come from another world!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Drugs dull the mind - maybe that's the reason."
Distributor:
Allied Artists Pictures
Official Site:
Home Video Distributor:
Olive Films
Theatrical Release Date:
February 5, 1956
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 17, 2012

Synopsis: A small-town doctor learns that the population of his community is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie
 
Blu-ray Disc
4 stars
 
2 stars
     
Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 17, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.0:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Olive Films presents this 1950s black-and-white film in a solid AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.00:1.  The stark black-and-white flickering offers a very filmic and horrifying look into the era.  In spite of the age of the flick, fine details are seen on faces, costumes, props, and gloriously illuminate the sets.  There is a nice layer of authentic film grain throughout the clean transfer.  One would never know this sucker was shot on a flimsy shoestring budget as the punchy visuals hold up in HD.  Close-ups are filled with terror and detail and they absolutely hold up to the HD microscope.  The release features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track that sounds, in spite of its age, surprisingly robust and full.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Olive Films, while digging out some gems of a bygone era, just don’t focus on supplemental material.  There is no commentary.

Special Features:

None. Even still, this release is highly recommended.

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