Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (4K Ultra HD Review)

Throughout history the individual traits of each human being are what has made them uniquely one of the most fascinating species to ever exist on the planet. Attributed to the way we walk, talk, and of course think, what truly separate humans from the rest is clearly distinct emotions. However, what if the human emotion attached to an individual was all but gone? 

Frightening to think about, back in 1954 Jack Finney’s Science Fiction story Body Snatchers touched on these very concepts. A tale about seeds that drift from space into earth’s orbit, once they land, they grow physical duplicates of any human being nearby. A doppelganger in every way, the only difference is the pod-grown being is emotionally hollow, and the real person they are mimicking, vanishes forever.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

A bizarre, yet compelling concept, a couple of years later it was adapted into a major motion picture under the title Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Released in 1956, the film’s screenplay was written by talented Novelist/Screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring (who actually wrote the novel Build My Gallows High, which later became the foundation for 1984’s Against All Odds), was produced by Walter Wanger (who was major producer for Paramount, Columbia, among others), and was directed by Don Siegel (who directed many Clint Eastwood films, including 1971’s Dirty Harry). A solid grouping, the cast included award-winning actor Kevin McCarthy as the leading Dr. Miles Bennell, Dana Wynter as the lovely Becky Driscoll, among others.

Now sixty-eight years old, historically it is considered one of the best Science Fiction Horror films of all-time, was selected in 1994 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, and inspired many other modern adaptations including 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1993’s Body Snatchers, 2007’s The Invasion, and most recently the subplot to Netflix’s 2019 series Another Life. Astounding to see how this tale has transcended time, one of the most intriguing aspects is the plot is universal to any generation. Created in the ‘50s, a period where the prevalent fears was of communist infiltration of America, one cannot help but see connections. In fact, many felt the Invasion of the Body Snatchers was heavily referencing this, however, there was no knowledge that everyone involved (from Wanger, Siegel, Mainwaring, to original Author Jack Finney) had any intentions of making a political message. Truly intending to centralize in creating something entertaining, as with any good Science Fiction story, there is always some subtext about life, society, and where we might be headed if we do not heed warning.

No doubt making you think, the beauty of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the theme is indeed so universal that nearly everyone can relate to it simply from the stand point of not wanting to be brainwashed, or more so, have their individuality erased. Putting this very heavy, dark under-text aside, the original film still holds up thanks to simply outstanding acting led by Kevin McCarthy, a steady pace, and lovely filming techniques. Something to behold, it has made its way to several digital formats through the years, including both on DVD and Blu-ray, now for the first time ever Invasion of the Body Snatchers makes its premiere in 4K.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

A brand-new transfer of 4K scans from the best available 35mm elements, it is presented as a 2-disc 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray set through Kino Lorber. Scheduled for release on July 16, 2024, what is very cool about this new edition is the film itself is presented in the original 2:00:1 aspect, but also 1:85:1. Explaining this a little further, the film was shot in 2.00:1 Superscope which uses the same film stock as standard 35mm film, but puts a larger image frame on that stock. What this means there is the creation of unique feeling that keeps the characters themselves in the frame, as well as their environment, in focus.

Something to consider, experiencing Invasion of the Body Snatchers in this aspect, as well as in a 4K scan, is simply breathtaking. With the clarity, you get to revel in the nuance and artistic noir styling of each shot like never before. Beyond this, the special features, while similar to prior Blu-ray releases such as the 2018 Olive Signature release, are fitting and worth the time. Here you get audio commentaries from Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, film historians, and more, but also the really interesting featurettes such as The Fear Is Real (with Larry Cohen and Joe Dante), The Stranger in Your Lover’s Eyes, as well as I No Longer Belong – The Rise and Fall of Walter Wanger. In the end, this 4K restoration is extremely well done, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives the new release of this Science Fiction masterpiece 5 out of 5 stars. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers / Kino Lorber (2024)

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