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Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Collector's Edition (1978)

When it rains, it pours. And when it rains on San Francisco at the beginning of Phillip Kaufman's 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it pours tiny alien organisms who plan to consume and replace the human race. Brooke Adams and Donald Sutherland star as Department of Health workers who begin to notice a change in the people around them: changes of habit, covert meetings with strange people, and a distinct absence of emotion. What they gradually discover is that these aren't the people they know at all. They have been cloned out of alien pods — systematically and exponentially. The second of four adaptations of Jack Finney's sci-fi novel The Body Snatchers, Kaufman's takes perhaps the most cultured approach to this deservedly popular concept. His style mixes the contemplative patience of Nicholas Roeg with the commercial inclinations of John Carpenter. The result is by turns compelling, creepy, and, unfortunately, also a bit long. Instead of developing Adams' and Sutherland's paranoia by concentrating on the subtle changes around them, Kaufman breezes past this and instead prolongs the third-act chase as the aliens pursue the few remaining human holdouts. Although this bottom-heavy imbalance is a tad wearying, this Snatchers has many memorable moments, a chilling atmosphere, and fine supporting performances by Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, and Leonard Nimoy. MGM's third iteration of this DVD release, now a two-disc "Collector's Edition," presents the film in a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Long held as one of the great advancements in Dolby technology, the soundtrack holds up well. Disc One offers a commentary by Kaufman and bonus trailers, while Disc Two includes "Re-Visitors from Outer Space, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod" (16 min.) featuring interviews with screenwriter W.D. Ritcher, Kaufman, Sutherland, Cartwright, and DP Michael Chapman (among others), "Practical Magic: The Special Effects Pod" (5 min.), Sound Designer Ben Burtt Specific "The Man Behind the Scream: The Sound Effects Pod" (13 min.), an appreciation of Chapman's work in "The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod" (5 min.), and the original theatrical trailer. Dual DVD slimline keep-case with paperboard slipcover.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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