The 1978 version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers has enjoyed a pretty healthy home video life: it has enjoyed VHS, DVD, special edition DVD and blu-ray releases in the U.S. alone. Those with region-free players were also able to enjoy a special edition from Arrow in the UK. Scream Factory has added this title to their repertoire and have provided a fresh entry in its home video evolution, serving up a new transfer and a mixture of new and old extras.
This disc sports a new 2K transfer taken from the interpositive: it’s worth noting this is the first new transfer in a long while, as the Arrow disc featured an older MGM transfer. The results do well by a distinctly ’70s looking title: the detail level is impressive, even in the frequent night photography and the muted, earthy color scheme looks nice and rich. Lossless 5.1 and 2.0 stereo mixes are included, with the former adding some extra depth to what was already a skillfully designed and mixed track.
Scream Factory has also packed the disc to the limit with extras, collecting the past MGM extras and adding a new set of featurettes, to boot. Here’s a rundown of what’s on this set:
Commentaries: One classic and one new. The vintage track is a solo one featuring director Philip Kaufman that has been missing in action since its appearance the pre-special edition DVD. Fans will be happy to have it here as it does a good job of bringing the listener into Kaufman’s filmmaking mindset: he offers an elegant analysis of the techniques used to realize his vision and has some great anecdotes to share about his cast along with observations of each actor’s unique skills.
The new track is a historical track by historian Steve Haberman. It’s a highly informative piece that offers biographical info on each major cast and crew member, mixing a rundown of their credits along with non-film and personal info, and a thumbnail history of the film’s source novel as well as the other three adaptations of it. A great listen for serious genre fans with tons of worthwhile info to feast upon.
Brooke Adams Interview (9:06): the first of four new featurettes is a quick chat with Adams, who speaks fondly of her working relationship, offers her take on her character’s romantic feelings and some frank details on how she felt about shooting the film’s nude scene.
Art Hindle Interview (25:04): an engaging chat with Hindle, who speaks warmly about his love for this film. It was his first role after moving to Los Angeles from Canada and he goes over the experience in detail, talking about the challenges of acting as a “pod person” and telling great anecdotes about Leonard Nimoy. He also gets into interesting detail about what things were like on the set, including the actor-friendly styles of Kaufman and cinematographer Michael Chapman.
W.D. Richter Interview (15:43): a thoughtful sitdown with the film’s writer, who talks about how Kaufman kept him on as a collaborator through the shoot because the last-minute shift from small town to big city setting made it necessary for him to stay on for rewrites. He gets into the film’s themes, including an interesting explanation of why it is not political, and offers some interesting details on the cameos and the film’s classic coda.
Denny Zeitlin Interview (15:34): a rare chat with this composer/renaissance man, who discusses the technical challenges of recording and how his jazz career led him to his film score. There’s some interesting stuff on his compositional process as well as his use of electronics. He also explains why he never did another score and even does some solo piano renditions of score cues.
Re-Visitors From Outer Space (16:14): this featurette originally appeared on the MGM special edition DVD and includes input from Donald Sutherland as well as Kaufman, Chapman and Richter. Kaufman and Richter reveal how they met with Don Siegel and Kevin McCarthy to learn about unused elements from the original film that they could incorporate in the remake as well as thoughts on the film’s themes, its cameos and some fun acting-related trivia from the cast.
Practical Magic (4:38): Kaufman and visual FX designer Howard Preston offer a fascinating explanation of how the film’s stunning opening titles scene was done, revealing the surprising lo-fi technology used to create the striking images.
The Man Behind The Scream (12:47): a great chat with sound designer Ben Burtt which also weaves in some comments from sound editor Bonnie Koehler. There’s lots of nifty details on the surprising organic roots of different alien sound effects in the film, including the infamous “pod scream,” as well as info on how the film pioneered the Dolby sound mix.
Cinematography (5:24): a quick piece on the film’s photography that is focused around cinematographer Michael Chapman. He talks about the movie’s film noir influence and the unique handheld techniques used in the film’s street photography. Kaufman and others also pop up to pay tribute to Chapman’s skills.
Science Fiction Theater (25:53): an episode of this show entitled “Time Is Just A Place,” which was adapted from a story by Invasion Of The Body Snatchers author Jack Finney. It’s a low-key, surprisingly intellectual exercise that shows off Finney’s thoughtful approach to the genre.
Additional Extras: a theatrical trailer, two t.v. spots (one of them really avant-garde), nearly 5 minutes’ worth of radio spots and a still gallery with 75 images, including several interesting poster designs.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978), click here.