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Customer Review

TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 November 2013
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!

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