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4.0 out of 5 stars They're Coming! You're Next! (Arrow Blu Ray Review), 24 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This review focuses on the Arrow Uk Blu Ray edition (November 2013).

Most serious SF/Horror fans and critics agree that this, the second adaptation of Jack Finney's novel 'The Body Snatchers', is an essential addition to any good genre library and of significant interest to devotees of mainstream cinema also. Consequently, I'm not going to detail the plot here, but simply say that while the original Don Siegel version is the closest to the source novel, this 1978 re-imagining is every bit as strong as its rightly celebrated predecessor.

As most Bluray buyers are aware, Arrow are very inconsistent performers when it comes to creating fine hidef versions of important Horror and SF films. This is a shame, as they undoubtedly mean well and seem to have acquired the rights to most important genre films between 1975 and 1990 in the UK. Of course, the source materials are important, but when you see an excellent transfer of a film like 'Zombie Flesh Eaters' (aka 'Zombi 2') which had previously always looked terrible suddenly transformed into virtually a different movie that makes you gogle at the quality of the film-making displayed, you begin to wonder. So after being very pleased with the Arrow Fulci film I've mentioned, I was somewhat disappointed with their transfer of 'Day of the Dead' and massively upset by the terrible job they did of 'Tenebrae' (though I'm told that the forthcoming upgraded steelbook edition due in late 2913 exclusively from Zavvi initially is a massive improvement). It had better be....though to be fair, the Arrow BD of 'Inferno' is absolutely fine.

On to 'Invasion'. Overall, this movie is quite dark, so very often it doesn't feel as if one is watching a BD. However, the first 15 minutes or so reveal the fact that this is a substantial improvement over the DVD. Then there's a dreadfully noisy scene at the department of health which features the kind of spotty fizz that afflicts most of the light-coloured backgrounds that suddenly appear about 8 minutes into 'Tenebrae', which were not present on cinematic prints. This really is not good enough, Arrow, especially when you appear to be very careful in the opening minutes of films, then suddenly drop the ball....

This aside, it does bear repeating that this is a very dark film, shot as director Phil Kauffman says, in Film Noir style, so the feature lacks the sharp edges of something like Carpenter's 'The Thing', which looks fabulous on BD. Overall, I found the picture inconsistent, but was satisfied with it about 80% of the time (the great bits look excellent, but it rarely took my breath away, as great BD transfers should). Of course, there's some natural grain, which is only right and genrally, the film looks very good indeed. But I can't help thinking that another label might have done a much better job - compared to the recent UK BD of 'The Brood', for example, Arrow's 'Invasion' doesn't look very hi-def at all. Ok, I know they're different films....

There are lots of extras, but they feel a tad repetitive, too many of them featuring the same members of the creative team and some of them feel familiar (I'm sure some of them were on the previous MGM DVD edition). The most welcome additions are the 55 minute hi-def discussion between Kim Newman, Norman J. Warren and a young film director whose name escapes me and a short interview with an author of a book about Jack Finney (as an SF critic, I'v been familiar with Finney's work for a very long time and it was great to see an item about the man who created the idea - the input of the original writer is always neglected in discussions of film versions in my opinion, for without the source, what would the director et al have?). The discussion item is too dominated by Kim Newman though - as great a critic and writer Kim is, I'd like to have heared more from Norman J. Warren - who directed SF films 'Prey' and 'Inseminoid' himself - who has the kind of perspective we simply don't hear enough of....which reminds me, Arrow, how about a BD of 'Inseminoid', as the DVD edition doesn't look that great...time for an upgrade!

Finally, the effects in the film look brilliant as ever, the cast are quirky and unforgettable, the direction, screenwriting and photography are flavoursome and wilfully expressionistic in a marvellous way while the sound design of the film is just fabulous. So despite some misgivings about Arrow's continuing issues with consistency, this is the best transfer of this must-have SF film yet. If you haven't seen it, just buy it!

Stephen E. Andrews, author, '100 Must Read Science Fiction Novels'
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Dec 2013 22:29:13 GMT
i agreee with you, though tbh i was really let down but the picture for most of the movie its way way too grainy for my liking in alot of scenes its beyond bad, it does not help that most of the movie is at night or dark scenes

they did not do a good enough job for me there are also loads of artifacts like you mention that they could have got rid of

I know the bluray has sharper edges BUT my dvd version upscaled almost looks better, hardly any grain too so i actually prefer that to this bluray

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2014 13:25:12 GMT
I'm sorry I can't wait 900 years for the Tenebre steelbook edition.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2014 20:19:30 GMT
It came out last December (2013) - a Zavvi exclusive. It's MUCH, MUCH better than the previous Arrow edition, like a different film.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2014 21:50:39 GMT
You wrote "I'm told that the forthcoming upgraded steelbook edition due in late 2913 exclusively from Zavvi initially is a massive improvement). It had better be....though to be fair, the Arrow BD of 'Inferno' is absolutely fine." So did you get an advance copy?

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2014 13:03:48 GMT
My God, a typo, I'll never forgive myself.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2014 20:37:14 GMT
I was just joking with you. Actually I've looked over some of your reviews and they are very informative. So thanks for the info and details.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Mar 2014 10:03:04 GMT
Cool. Thanks for the feedback - lot of trolls here sometimes, y'know. As a professional writer, I'm a lazier proof reader than I should be - my editor does that for me with my books and I type faster than I think! I wonder what will come out in 2913....are youa Goblin fan, by the way? They did 'Tenebrae' live at a gig I was at the other night!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Mar 2014 18:19:38 GMT
I like Goblin a lot- in fact one of my favourite movies ever is Dawn of the Dead original version. You lucky man to have seen them play that. I watched Tenebrae for the first time in perhaps 15 years, what a movie. I can see you like Argento. What is your feeling on some of his later works? I try hard to defend some of it- as it has such a backlashing from fans. I really loved The Stendhal Syndrome for example.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2014 10:01:27 GMT
Well, my first Argentos were 'Suspiria', 'Inferno', 'Tenebrae' and 'Deep Red' (in that order). I saw 'Suspiria' in the cinema about 78/79 and 'Tenebrae' when it came out (81?). I think the 75-81 period is best. I really rate 'Crystal Plummage', think 'Cat o'Nine' is characterful but lacks pace in places and think 'Four flies' is really, really boring and slow, with awful comedy sequences and characters that don't work, despite it being beautifully made. 'Phenomena' I like, but again it has pacing issues, being too long. 'Opera' I like more as time goes on, though I think the cast are a bit bland.

After that I think he's patchy at best. I've never liked 'Trauma', didn't like 'Phantom' though it's different. I quite like 'Stendhal' though, but again I think it's a bit too long and has a very, very slow and drawn out opening sequence. 'Sleepless' I also like, but the casting again is weak. I've not seen 'The Card Player', 'Giallo' or Argento's 'Dracula'.

I've always enjoyed the irrational side of Argento's films - cinema is principally about sound and light and he's a genius at this. But he never seems that interested in acting or actors and his plots are sometimes a bit loose - he'd make a terrible crime novelist. However, he makes the likes of Lucio Fulci at his best look amateurish - Fulci does the irrational thing, but in most of his films its just patched together. In Argento's best, there is narrative strength.

...finally, I watched 'Inferno' recently for the first time in years. I have to say I didn't like it as much as I used to. All his films are better in Italian (especially with the new, more literary and less melodramatic subtitle translations), but I found 'Inferno' a bit of a drag in places. But as I say, I enjoy 'Opera' now more than I did back in the day. Overall, I think 'Suspiria' and 'Tenebrae' are by far the best -they have the most internally consistent mis-en-scenes and the best narrative construction.

If you ever get a chance to see Goblin - any lineup - do. Check my review of their album 'Roller', which I posted the other day.

cheers, Steve

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2014 16:56:59 GMT
I agree with you with regards to Inferno. It lacks pace and is a disappointing follow up to Suspiria. The Card Player I found to be enjoyable. But the acting is a bit flat. But I liked it for what it was. Don't worry I won't giveaway the ending, but it's a little pathetic. I've ordered a copy of Dracula and I don't know what to think of it. I read some reviews that say it's terrible and others are more encouraging. I'll have to see.... Oh and I love The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. I got the Blue Underground 2 disc edition- a great film and considering that was his debut, that is pretty mindblowing.
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