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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Strange Invaders
Strange Invaders
MGM // PG // November 20, 2001
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 24, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

What seems to be an early 80's attempt to make a film that would feel at home getting commented on by "Mystery Science Theater 3000", "Strange Invaders" is an occasionally entertaining serious "spoof" about aliens invading small-town America. The film revolves around Charles Bigelow (Paul Le Mat), who comes upon the fact that the town of Centreville, Illinois just happens to be overrun with aliens who plan to take over the world.

The film has been written by Bill Condon, who has suprisingly went on to direct more serious projects like the well-recieved "Gods and Monsters". His script here, on the other hand, is merely okay. The film takes itself a little too seriously at times and that certainly does hurt the pacing a bit as, rather than attempting a sharper and edgier brand of humor, the serious way the film comes at the story makes it ultimately feel rather slow and occasionally boring.

Although the performances by Nancy Allen as a helpful reporter and Le Mat as Bigelow are generally okay, not all of the performances fare as well. For example, Diana Scarwid was nominated for a Worst Supporting Actress Razzie award. The film's few effects are low-budget and cinematography is rather poor, apparently taking the choice of making many of the scenes distractingly hazy.

While this is a decent homage to earlier sci-fi pictures, it doesn't seem to have quite the right sense of itself and material and the performances and general tone could have been at least a little quicker and goofier.


The DVD

VIDEO: While MGM does present "Strange Invaders" in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, to say that the film hasn't aged well would be a definite understatement. Although the film was produced in the early 80's, it often looks like something from the 60's or early 70's. Sharpness and detail are most definitely lackluster, as the entire film looks distractingly soft and occasionally quite blurry. While this seems to have been an intentional look by the filmmakers, it makes the film hard to watch.

As if the consistently hazy picture quality wasn't enough of a distraction, the print used displays some considerable wear and tear, as scratches, marks and frequent specks are visible. Slight edge enhancement is infrequently visible, as are a couple of traces of pixelation. Colors looked somewhat faded and weak throughout the movie, looking slightly smeared in a few spots. Although it's great that MGM has presented the film in its original aspect ratio, I'm a little suprised that it's not in better condition.

SOUND: Although there's nothing remarkable amount it, in comparison to the picture quality, the mono audio track is somewhat more pleasing. Audio quality was fair, as the music, dialogue and sound effects came through somewhat weakly, but were still at least easily heard.

MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus that essentially use film-themed images and cover art.

EXTRAS:: This is a commentary from director Michael Laughlin and writer Bill Condon. Condon provides an interesting discussion of the actors and his experiences working on the feature with director Laughlin, while Laughlin chats about sci-fi in general and his opinions of the story and final product. Some slow points, but this proved to be a pretty interesting track overall. It's extremely nice to hear both Laughlin and Condon discuss the importance of presenting films in their original aspect ratio.

Also: The film's trailer. As with some of MGM's other catalog titles, there's no insert.

Final Thoughts: While "Strange Invaders" provided some entertaining moments, there are several stretches that drag considerably. MGM's DVD provides very weak image quality, but decent audio quality and a nice supplement in the commentary. Maybe a rental for fans of this film.
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