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finding more and more people are saying that friends and relations are no longer who they say they are, but have been replaced by imposters.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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