Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1978.
Directed by Philip Kaufman.
Starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright.
Kino Lorber has released the Blu-ray that accompanied their 4K UltraHD edition of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, complete with all the bonus features found on it. The disc uses a 4K restoration, as opposed to the 2K scan utilized by Shout! Factory’s 2016 Blu-ray, so you get slightly better image quality here too.
In 2016, Shout! Factory issued a Collector’s Edition of Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray. It was a solid release with a nice set of bonus features, and the film was based on a 2K scan of the original elements. In 2021, Kino Lorber put out a 4K UltraHD release of the film using a new 4K restoration that was approved and color graded by director Philip Kaufman.
Now, Kino has put out a Blu-ray based on that 4K restoration, with a big batch of bonus features culled from the Shout! disc, along with other previous releases. Whether or not you want to double-dip depends on how important this new restoration is to you, as well as your interest in any bonus features that weren’t on the Shout! platter. As far as I know, this is the same disc that was included alongside Kino’s 4K saucer in that package.
In terms of image quality, you’re really splitting hairs when you compare a Blu-ray from a 2K source against a Blu-ray from a 4K source. The latter will look better, unless excessive edge enhancement and DNR has been applied to the image, but we’re talking about an incremental increase in quality, not a major leap forward. If you’re happy with a previous Blu-ray edition of this film, you’re not missing a lot, unless any of the bonus features detailed below are absent from your disc and you really want them.
As for the film itself, it definitely takes on a new layer of meaning in the midst of a pandemic. In 2016, the film felt like a repudiation of Trumpism. Today, it feels like an allegory about people falling prey to a kind of thought pattern that makes them refute science. Of course, the anti-mask and anti-vaccine crowd will undoubtedly see the pod people as an indictment of those who wear masks and get the vaccine.
And that’s the mark of an excellent movie that stands the test of time. It undoubtedly felt one way to people who saw it upon its first release in 1978, and I imagine that each subsequent decade has given Invasion of the Body Snatchers a new lens through which to view the film. It will probably continue to be seen as a repudiation, or reinforcement, of whatever is dominating the news cycles of future decades.
I’ll end my discussion of the movie there, since you can check out my review of the Shout! release if you want to read more about it. I’ll switch gears now and focus on the bonus features. As far as I can tell, none of it is new.
- Commentary with director Philip Kaufman: This is an archival track with plenty of scene-specific tidbits, although sometimes he simply lapses into silence. However, fans of the film will find a lot of good content here.
- Commentary with author and film historian Steve Haberman: Originally recorded for the Shout! release, this is a more scholarly track that examines the movie’s place in history, as well as its various thematic elements. It’s not screen-specific, but that’s okay with me since tracks like this function more like film class lectures.
- Star-Crossed in the Invasion: Interview with Actress Brooke Adams (10 minutes): The actress discusses her role as Elizabeth Driscoll, as well as her remembrances from making the movie.
- Re-Creating the Invasion: Interview with Screenwriter W.D. Richter (16 minutes): Richter talks about the decisions he made when writing the script, such as moving the setting from the small town depicted in the original film to a city in this remake.
- Scoring the Invasion: Interview with Composer Danny Zietlin (16 minutes): The guy responsible for the film’s score talks about his collaboration with Kaufman, who had very specific ideas about the use of electronic music and organic sounds at different points in the story.
- Leading the Invasion: Interview with Actor Art Hindle (26 minutes): The actor who portrayed Dr. Geoffrey Howell looks back on the making of this film and how it and other contemporary horror films he starred in helped push his career to new heights.
- Writing the Pod: Interview with Jack Finney Expert Jack Seabrook (12 minutes): The writer, who penned a book about Finney’s writings, talks about the author’s legacy in general and, in specific, the novel that inspired the 1956 original film.
- Re-Visitors From Outer Space, or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod (17 minutes): This is one of those standard archival pieces from the DVD days with interviews with Kaufman, Richter, and members of the cast and crew.
- Practical Magic: The Special Effect Pod (5 minutes): Another featurette from the DVD era, this one features Kaufman and special effects guy Howard Preston discussing that aspect of the film.
- The Man Behind the Scream: The Sound Effects Pod (13 minutes): Legendary sound designer Ben Burtt talks about his work on the film. The scream in question is the Wilhelm Scream, a sound effect from 1950s era westerns that Burtt resurrected for his work on Star Wars and many other films, with other sound folks using it too.
- The Invasion Will be Televised: The Cinematography Pod (6 minutes): Cinematographer Michael Chapman is joined by Kaufman, Richter, and writer Christopher Vogler to discuss the movie’s noir-like qualities in the way it was shot.
The theatrical trailer, as well as TV and radio spots, round out this release.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★