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I am the first to admit, that the original 1955 paranoid nightmare- INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is a genre classic that no other film will ever be able to touch. Even Phillip Kaufman’s 1978 re-make, which had some good moments, fell short of the mark. Instead of striving for greatness, director Abel Ferrara’s delivers an entertaining re-make that proves to be a good deal of creepy "B" movie fun. The plot of 1993’s BODY SNATCHERS maintains the key plot point of the original film; pods from outer space replace humanity with emotionless facsimiles, yet the latest incarnation of the story changes the characters and the setting. A military base is systematically overtaken by the pod people, which give the alien replacements the best network possible to infiltrate the entire planet.

BODY SNATCHERS stars Gabrielle Anwar as Marti Malone, the teenage daughter of an EPA investigator who comes to realize that toxic waste is far from the most serious problem at the military base that her father is testing for hazardous materials. Meg Tilly portrays Marti’s stepmother Carol, who turns out to be an early victim of the pod people. Considering Tilly’s usual emotional range, her transformation isn’t all that discernable, although I will give her credit for providing the film’s creepiest moment. I’d also like to give credit to Tilly’s body double- bravo! The cast of BODY SNATCHERS also features Terry Kinney, Reilly Murphy, Billy Wirth, Christine Elise, R. Lee Ermey, Kathleen Doyle and Forest Whitaker. As I said above, director Abel Ferrara seems to be content with providing a few good scares, instead of making the bold political statement one found in the original film. This is fine if one goes into the movie looking for nothing more than mindless sci-fi fun. The special effects are rather good, making the transformation from pod to human replica credible, as well as being more frightening than they were in the past.

Warner Home Video has made BODY SNATCHERS available on DVD in both full screen and wide screen presentations. Since BODY SNATCHERS should be watched in "scope," there is no point in bothering with the full screen version. The wide screen presentation restores the film’s 2.35:1 framing and has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. While not a demo disc, BODY SNATCHERS delivers a sharp, detailed image that looks good throughout the presentation. The movie tends to be rather dark, and while shadow detail is evident, this transfer tends to be somewhat less detailed than that of newer movies. Colors are well saturated, perhaps a bit too much at times, which caused a bit of fuzziness. Flesh tones appear rather healthy and the blacks are well recreated. Digital compression artifacts remain in check most of the time.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround and the mix is pretty good for an older matrixed format. Sound effects are well placed, although not as distinctly as in a discrete track. The climax is pretty lively and the sonics support the on screen action. Dialogue is clean and distinct, except for a couple of moments where the sound effects threaten to overwhelm the actor’s voices. Joe Delia’s atmospheric score is fairly well integrated into the mix. A French language soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English and French subtitles. The interactive menus are very basic, proving only the scene selection and set up features.

If one goes into BODY SNATCHERS with an open mind, they will find it to be an entertaining little sci-fi outing. With the usual internet discounts, the DVD’s $19.98 retail price will get knocked down quite a bit, making BODY SNATCHERS very easy to own for genre fans.


Body Snatchers (1994)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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