Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956,Allied Artists) Blu-ray (Olive Signature ) 81 min N/R. $29.95 limited to 5,000 units https://olivefilms.com/product/invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-olive-signature-blu-ray/
“They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next! You’re next” This chilling phrase, ranted desperately by actor Kevin McCarthy at the original ending of the classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS still sends chills through audiences experience the film 62 years after it was released.
A 1950s classic science fiction film that reflected the paranoia of the period to “The Other “ , that is people who look and sound like us , but are soulless monsters. What is interesting is that both sides of the political arena claim that the film supports their world view ideals, whereas the filmmakers seemed to have merely been trying to create a more intelligent and adult thriller in the genre.
For the few who have yet to see this gem, an hysterical man is brought to a hospital ,and as he begins to explain how he got there , we flashback to see .
In small town Santa Mira Dr Mile Bennell (Kevin McCarthy , in his iconic film role)and his former girl friend Becky (Dana Wynter)are finding more and more people are saying that friends and relations are no longer who they say they are, but have been replaced by imposters.
They learn to their horror that people are indeed being replaced by pod people, that is to say ,huge seeds that ,when placed near a sleeping person, open up and assume the visage and persona of the sleeper, save without emotions.
Fleeing for their lives, the couple hide within a cave. Benell goes to explore and finds that the pods are being grown and distributed. Returning to the cave, he finds that Becky has fallen asleep and is now a pod person.
In shock , he races away from persuers into major traffic, screaming a warning to those within their vehicles.
Returning back to the hospital, the attending physicians feel that Bennell is delusional, until an accident victim is brought in, having had an accident with a truck carrying unusual oversized seed pods. The doctors rush to warn the police ,as Bennell slumps down, exhausted but hopeful that the invasion will be stopped.
Based upon a serialization that appeared in Collier’s Magazine as “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney , producer Walter Wanger saw something unique in the story and purchased screen rights before the serialization was completed .
Wanger had been a busy producer ,active in theatre and film since prior to the U.S. entry into WW I. Some of the classic films that he produced were STAGECOACH (U.A/Walter Wanger Productions,1939) and Hitchcock’s FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (U.A./Walter Wanger Productions 1940). In 1951, after a series of expensive failures ,Wanger was involved with a scandal wherein he shot his wife’s agent when Wanger suspected the pair were having an affair (Wanger’s wife was actress Joan Bennett).After a short prison stay,Wanger was anxious to jump start his career. His first effort was the successful RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11 ( A.A.,1954). Due to the success of that film, A.A. greenlit ‘Body Snatchers “(which went through various titles, including “Sleep No More”,a title also considered for the 1968 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD(Walter Reade/Continental).
INVASION OF THE was added to the title (to differentiate it from the RKO THE BODY SNATCHER (1945, Val Lewton’s classic ,starring Karloff,Lugosi,Henry Daniell,directed by Robert Wise) and production was greenlit.
An agreed upon budget of $454,864 and a 24 day film shoot was agreed to, before it was slashed by the studio to 20 days ,and a budget of $350,000. That precluded a name star, but worked perhaps in the film’s favor, as not following known stars kept us focused on the reality of the story .
The cast chosen was also first rate, and brought real life to the characters who they portrayed. Don Siegel (who directed two Academy Award winning shorts in 1945, was a slick ,efficient, no nonsense director who knew how to build suspense.
The finished film was considered too bleak for the A.A. execs, who sent the film back for additional filming. The opening and closing scenes, set within a hospital, have the exhausted Dr Bennell tell his story, then at the end barely avoids being committed when it is reported that an accident spills pods across the road, having the doctors begin to call to help perhaps stop the invasion.
The final film was still considered somewhat cerebral, and many read political commentary into it’s story .Filmed during the height of the McCarthy /HUAC hearings, both side of the issue interpreted the film to represent THEIR point of view.
Though well reviewed, the film was treated as nothing more than a science fiction programmer. It was paired with the British thriller TIMESLIP (1955,Anglo Amalgamated, released in the U.S. by A.A. as THE ATOMIC MAN ) or the Lon Chaney Jr . starrer reworking of MAN MADE MONSTER (1941,Universal) called THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN (1956,A.A.).
The film started being reappraised due to it’s many television airings in the 1960s ,with many people catching this creepy film just before they went to bed, making it even more frightening.
It has been remade several times (1978 UA ,BODY SNATCHERS ,1993,WB, THE INVASION ,2007 WB)with various degrees of success and failure ,as well as many other spoofs, rip offs and parodies . The term “pod people “ has entered our common vernacular ,so that even people who have not seen the film know it refers to an unemotional person ,and or imposter .
The film has been released on VHS as well as DVD from studios like Republic and NTA, as well as on DVD .
Olive Films released a previous DVD and Blu Ray of the film in 2012 without any extras, but now the movie has gotten the OLIVE SIGNATURE special edition treatment, and it is indeed transformative.
Licensing the film from Paramount ,OLIVE FILMS had previously cleaned up the film and presented it in the 2:1 SUPERSCOPE process forced upon the producers by the studio. The film was filmed and framed as 185, but the studio stretched out the image for the process.
Basically, previous versions were cropped . Olive Films presented the film as it was seen back in 1956.
The image on this Olive Films Signature Release is 1080 p with beautiful dark blacks and clean whites without being washed out, and subtle gray scales in between . The audio is a rich 24 bit DTS-HD mono sound
OLIVE FILMS initial release was extra free . The new SIGNATURE release makes up for that.
First off is the new informative but never dry running commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith. Smith has so much information that one suspects he got into a time machine to visit the set and report on every event in the preparation, production and release of the film. That , or he is just a brilliant researcher, who delivers his audio comments in a clear calm(but never dull ) manner .
An older commentary that is lifted from a previous release of the film which features stars Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter , hosted by superfan and filmmaker Joe Dante.
“The Stranger in Your Lover’s Eyes” – A two-part visual essay with actor and son of director Don Siegel, Kristoffer Tabori, reading from his father’s book A Siegel Film (Faber & Faber (October 1, 1996)).
‘The Fear is Real “ Filmmakers and superfans Larry Cohen and Joe Dante discuss how the film has affected both our culture as well as many films that followed.
‘I No Longer Belong The Rise and Fall of Walter Wagner” film scholar Matthew Bernstein discusses how Wagner went from Broadway to film, and how shooting your wife’s suspected lover in the groin can be pretty detrimental to your career.
‘Sleep No More: Invasion of the Body Snatchers Revisited” McCarthy & Wynter appear on camera to share memories on the film ,with additional comments by superfans and filmmakers John Landis, Mick Garris, and Stuart Gordon .
“The Fear & The Fiction : The Body Snatchers Phenomenon” -McCarthy,Wynter, Landis,Garris,and Gordon discuss the importance and influence of the film in cinema history.
McCarthy in a 1985 tv interviewing talking on a local California cable talk show .McCarthy is quiet and humble in his interview , and mentions his one man stage show “Give “Em Hell, Harry” ,in which he toured on and off for 20 years.
“Return To Santa Mira” -What remains and what is gone at the location since the filming (hint don’t look for the train station!).
‘What’s In a Name?” The various titles bandied about for the film during production and continuing until it’s release.
A collection of rare production documents, including the originally planned opening narration which producer Wagner wished to have read by Orson Welles (which seems inspired by H,G, Wells opening of the novel WAR OF THE WORLD ).
An 8 page booklet essay examination of the film by author film programmer Kier-La Janisse
The original Theatrical Trailer.
This is a Must have Must get Blu Ray of this classic film.
Don’t be a pod!
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION !
-Kevin G Shinnick
Other OLIVE SIGNATURE TITLES include
THE QUIET MAN (reviewed https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/the-quiet-man-olive-films-signature-blu-ray/ )
Other Olive Film Releases include
THE VAMPIRE’S GHOST https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/the-vampires-ghost-republic-1945blu-ray-dvd-from-olive-films/
ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/one-of-our-aircraft-is-missing-olive-films-blu-ray/
MACBETH (1948/1950 Republic) https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/orson-welles-macbetholive-films-blu-ray/
RETURN OF DRACULA https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/return-of-dracula-blu-ray-olive-films/
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BAD SAMARITAN is a superior example of the serial killer thriller genre.
Opening in 2000 theatres in May 2018, the film did not do well in its three week run ( making only $3,435,047 ) . It’s distributor , Electric Entertainment, who produced several television and theatrical co productions) has released three motion pictures ,all of which had high profile stars (BLACKWAY starring Anthony Hopkins in 2016; LBJ directed by Rob Reiner and starring Woody Harrelson in the title role in 2017; and now this film) but have not registered a blip on the radar financially. The real shame is that two of them films(I have not seen BLACKWAY to honestly comment) are superb motion pictures.
Back to BAD SAMARITAN . Directed by Dean Devlin (INDEPENDENCE DAY) with true style , and a clever screenplay by actor writer Brandon Boyce ( his skill as a thriller writer were in full view in his adaptation of Stephen King‘s APT PUPIL ,Columbia,1998), the film, set in present day Portland Oregon ,makes full use of modern technology .
Amateur photographer Sean Falco (Irish actor Robert Sheehan , who appeared in Devlin‘s noisy but empty GEOSTORM ,WB/Electric ,2017) also works with his best friend Derek (Carlito Olivero , who began in show biz as a lead singer in a revamped Menudo ) parking cars at an upper class restaurant. This job also allows them to pilfer the homes of those in the eatery, since it is obvious that they are not home, often using the victim’s own cars to drive to and from the burglary! Sean takes mostly items that won’t be noticed ,such as photographing a gift card’s info and number, as the card itself isn’t needed to purchase items online.
One day a rich self centered Cale Erendreich (an absolutely terrific David Tennant, making one forget his DR WHO persona for BBC TV from 2005-2010) drives up in a $200,000 Maserati ,and his attitude spurs Sean to go to Cale’s home and rob it. However, when he breaks in, he finds a woman bound and gagged (Irish actress Kerry Condon ,from AMC tv‘s BETTER CALL SAUL ,2015-present). He ungags her but she points out that the house is wired to be control and surveilled remotely by Cale from his phone . In a moment, Sean gets fearful and yells I’m sorry to the imprisoned woman ,and flees.
Ah, the glamorous life of a film actress.
Getting the car back to a waiting Cale, a guilt ridden Sean contacts the police, which brings him to the attention of Cale . Cale decides that Sean needs correcting ,and thus begins to systematically destroy everything that the young man cherishes , while the police find Sean’s stories less than credible, especially when they check out Cale’s home and discover nothing.
The tale becomes then one where not only must Sean try and save the unknown woman, but he must also try and hang onto his own existence.
Interestingly, three of the main leads are from the U.K., with Tennant and Condon mastering American accents, while Sheehan is allowed to use his natural Irish accent).
Cinematography by David Connell (who had worked with Devlin on the tv series, THE LIBRARIANS( Electric , 2014-8) is sharp ,and makes marvelous use of cold blues as well as sterile clean white rooms . The music by Joshua LoDuca ( tv’s ASH VS THE EVIL DEAD , Renaissance/Starz,2015-18)is quite superb at underlining and supporting the suspense ,with several well placed stings to accentuate jump moments.
Is he more creepy dead eyed and emotionless?
or more creepy smirking ?
The film is definitely worth seeking out, and has been released on DVD and Blu Ray from Sony Home Entertainment. The Blu Ray is Region A ,and features a running audio commentary by Devlin and Boyce, as well as deleted scenes as well as optional subtitles.
It can also be rented/ purchased on AMAZON PRIME (available for free viewing to Amazon Prime Subscribers. https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Samaritan-David-Tennant/dp/B07F1P5L19/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Seek out the BAD SAMARITAN, and pray that he does not seek YOU out.
Kevin G Shinnick
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A quick overview /tribute.
Hammer also made SONG OF FREEDOM (1936), starring the great Paul Robeson , but these two films, with which Hammer hoped to enter the lucrative U.S. market ,were more expensive ,and so the studio went back to program quickies like the caper film THE BANK MESSENGER MYSTERY (1936) and the musical comedy SPORTING LOVE (1937,based upon a 1934 stage show of the same name that ran 300 performances in 1934).
Realizing that Frankenstein was in the public domain , they hired popular tv actor Peter Cushing, plus a tall relatively unknown jobbing actor named Christopher Lee (when popular Bernard Bresslaw asked for too much money) ,and lighting struck, bringing to life the monster we now know as Hammer Films to an international market with their signature film, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN ( 1957).
The studio tried co productions with The Shaw Brothers, who were producing the very popular martial arts films of the period. What the British filmmakers discovered was was how primitive the conditions were for their style of film making ( it was difficult to record live sound,due to studios with tin roofs!) ,and after two films , the very disappointing SHATTER as well as the interesting LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES ,they once again looked to other sources of finance (both filmed in 1974 , but given very spotty releases).
Hammer made another big budget film thanks to German investors and EMI ,adapting Dennis Wheatley‘s TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976) . Once again ,bringing in a major Hollywood actor(Richard Widmark,who was not happy with the production), it is an ugly looking production , the most notable exception being it introducing the world to Nastassja Kinski (who had , though ,already a career in modeling as well as appearing prior in Wm Wenders’ THE WRONG MOVE ,1975). The ending of this film leaves most people confused and /or angry.
In 2009 ,Hammer tried a return to the psychological thrillers that they had made in the 1960s, filming THE RESIDENT in New York City and New Mexico. Starring Hillary Swank, it also was Christopher Lee‘s first Hammer film since TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER 36 years earlier. The film was a slick production, but sat on a shelf for two years, again getting a token theatrical release before it’s DVD release.
Released in 2010 to praise (though some did complain it either followed the Swedish film either too much or too little!),it earned $12 million in the U.S. and Canada alone, accruing $24 million world wide. (Oddly,
It was listed as one of the ten biggest bombs of 2010!). Blu Ray ,DVD, and cable sales in 2011 pushed the film into a modest profit.