Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Charles Band-style.
Seedpeople was based on an original idea by Charles Band, though I suspect some viewers may question its originality. The film opens with Sam Hennings, surrounded by doctors, ranting and raving: “Listen to me… there’s not much time!” It quickly transpires that he’s a geologist as he recounts the events leading up his hospitalisation and that he’s encountered some strange, extra-terrestrial goings-on in the small town of Comet Valley. Back in 1956, Kevin McCarthy was doing much the same in a police station, although it was “pod people” in that case. If Seedpeople deserves a ‘based on’ credit, then surely Invasion of the Body Snatchers (or, preferably, original novelist Jack Finney) deserves some form of recognition. Certainly, it instigates its own changes and updates, but then so too did the official remakes from 1978 (the Philip Kaufman version), 1993 (Abel Ferrara’s The Body Snatchers) and 2007 (the much-maligned Nicole Kidman/Daniel Craig-starring The Invasion).
Not that we should expect anything less from Band. The son of a B-movie director-producer (his father Albert made, among others, I Bury the Living in 1958), he’s always had an opportunist stance to his profession, whether that means milking successes into multi-instalment franchises or taking on every conceivable horror and science-fiction subgenre, from vampire movies to high school sex comedies in the Weird Science mould. A Body Snatchers rip-off, then, was to be expected and Band is really quite shameless about it. All of the expected ingredients are here: the town crackpot who nobody believes but has a better handle on the situation that anyone else; the hard-ass ignorant sheriff; the at-peril female contingent; dumb locals unwitting heading to their own demise; and, of course, plenty of rubbery effects.
Director Peter Manoogian (a regular Band collaborator since the early eighties) gets straight down to business. The flashback structure allows for easy exposition – not that we really need it when we’re on such familiar turf – and the first big SFX scene comes a mere ten minutes in. Indeed, the entire picture stretches to barely past the hour mark meaning there isn’t really any time to dawdle. We get Hennings acting like a younger and slightly cleaner-cut Tim Thomerson. We get Magical Media Industries (who had previously worked on Friday the 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels) providing the puppets and the gore to entertaining effect. And we get to the end before we know it. There’s barely the time to register whether Seedpeople is any good or not, though maybe that’s beside the point. It’s undoubtedly derivative, but also never less than fun in an early nineties VHS rental fashion – which is, of course, exactly what Band intended and exactly what this disc’s primary audience will be expecting.
Seedpeople makes its UK DVD debut as part of 88 Films’ Grindhouse Collection (volume six). The Region 0 disc presents the film in a 4:3 ratio befitting its made-for-videotape origins and with original stereo soundtrack. Some damage is apparent, though for the most part the image remains clean and reasonably sharp. Colour and contrast levels are perfectly fine and there appears to be no ill-effects in the transfer to disc. Similarly, the soundtrack affords no problems. Extras amount to the original VideoZone featurette that would have accompanied the film during its VHS incarnation (offering up a tongue-in-cheek ten-minute ‘making of’) and a host of trailers for other Band movies that are either already on UK DVD (or Blu-ray) courtesy of 88 Films or forthcoming.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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