Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Of the few remakes of classic movies that almost equal their source material, Philip Kaufman's 1978 retelling of Invasion of the Body Snatchers receives a better-than-average DVD release from MGM. The film print doesn't look like it has been restored for this release (and it needs to be), but it's great to have this terrifying movie back in widescreen, and the disc's extras are much better than average. The tense, hyper-paranoid sci-fi thriller is smartly directed by Kaufman and beautifully shot by master cinematographer Michael Chapman (Raging Bull, The Fugitive). The DVD presents the film in a widescreen transfer and it also comes with in a pan-and-scan version on the flip side. There's nothing wrong with the transfer, but the source print hasn't been restored and it shows plenty of wear and tear. That said, Michael Chapman's excellent lighting and camera work still comes through beautifully, and Denny Zeitlin's truly unsettling score really gets under your skin on the Dolby audio track. The disc features an excellent commentary track by Kaufman, who really takes you through the making of the movie scene by scene. The commentary will be appreciated more by filmmakers and students than by sci-fi fans, as Kaufman concentrates on how he and Chapman shot the movie rather than going into the complexities of the movie's subtexts. The disc also includes a short documentary called "Pod Culture," which shows you the similarities and differences in each movie version. As an added bonus, the DVD comes with a booklet that is surprisingly interesting and well worth reading (most booklets in DVD's are complete jokes hastily done by copywriters rather than people interested in the movie in question). While this disc isn't perfect, many fans will be glad to own it, and it proves that Invasion of the Body Snatchers remains one of the best horror and sci-fi movies of the 1970s. This DVD only enhances the film's stature.