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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Killer > Psychopath > Mystery > Murder > Comedy > Science Fiction > Alien > Biology > Slash > The Bat (1959/Allied Artists/Film Chest DVD)/Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978/United Artists/Arrow UK Region B Import Blu-ray)/The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986/Arrow UK Region B Limited Edition

The Bat (1959/Allied Artists/Film Chest DVD)/Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978/United Artists/Arrow UK Region B Import Blu-ray)/The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986/Arrow UK Region B Limited Edition Blu-ray Set w/bonus Region 2 PAL DVD/Import/3 Discs)

Picture: C+/B/B- Sound: C/B/B- Extras: D/B+/B Films: C+/B/C

PLEASE NOTE: The expanded Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Blu-rays are Region B encoded, will only play on machines that can handle the format, are available from our friends at Arrow Video in the UK and can be ordered from the link below.

Next up are three Horror genre films you should know about, all for different reasons...

Crane Wilbur's The Bat (1959) was one of the longtime writer's few directing successes, a howler of a horror thriller, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, about a killer on the loose killing anyone he finds alone at night at random. Turns out someone is using real bats as part of the reign of terror, but has other means of elimination as well. Agnes Moorehead plays a rich older woman who runs her old mansion as best she can and has heard about the killer, but when strange things start to happen around her home, she seeks help.

But why her place? What is the attraction to it by the killer? She and her guests are about to find out, but someone knows more than they are saying, including a mysterious man (Vincent Price) who comes across as a high class gentleman but has more than a few secrets to hide. Darla Hood of Our Gang/The Little Rascals shows up older here in her last (and one of her few) feature film appearances and though this is not a great film, it is a high end B-movie everyone should see at least once just for the laughs. Everyone gives good performances and this Film Chest DVD is easily the best version we have seen to date.

There are sadly no extras, but this film deserves some.

Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a strong one and better than many rip-offs and several remakes that later followed. After being issued in a fine Blu-ray from MGM in the U.S. a few years ago, Arrow UK has issued their version in a Region B Import Blu-ray with expanded extras and the same exact picture and sound transfer. For those unfamiliar with the film, see our coverage of the MGM Blu-ray at this link:


That disc had limited extras and some of them were included on the DVD only that had been issued years before, but Arrow includes the extras on the Blu-ray and then some. Repeated extras from MGM's release include the Original Theatrical Trailer, an enduring feature length audio commentary track by Kaufmann and four featurettes: Re-Visitors From Outer Space, or How I learned To Stop Worrying & Love The Pod, Practical Magic: The Special Effects Pod, The Man Behind The Scream: The Sound Effects Pod and The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod. New extras include Pod Discussion: A new panel conversation about  the film and invasion cinema in general with critic Kim Newman, filmmakers Ben Wheatley and Norman J. Warren, Dissecting the Pod: A new interview with Kaufman biographer Annette Insdor, Pod Novel: A new interview with Jack Seabrook, author of Stealing through Time: On the Writings of Jack Finney about Finney's original novel The Body Snatchers, plus you get a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh in the not steelbook version and a booklet in all editions featuring new writing on the film by critic David Cairns, re-prints of classic articles including contemporary interviews with Philip Kaufman & W.D. Richter and original archive stills and posters graphics. It is enough again for serious fans to go out of their way for as has been the case with all the remarkable Arrow special editions.

Arrow gives the same expanded treatment and then some to Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), a belated sequel (12 years later!?!) that they have made into a 3 disc set, which goes well beyond the basic Blu-ray MGM just issued in the U.S. and is a limited edition with only 10,000 copies being produced. That includes numbered certificates, Limited Edition Packaging, newly illustrated by Justin Erickson and what they are dubbing exclusive limited edition extras.

This time out, Leatherface finally decides to return and brings his family as they go after a radio host and anyone else in their way, but they make the mistake of incurring the wrath of a Texas Marshall (Dennis Hopper in comeback mode) who goes out and buys some chainsaws of his own to get the job done against them! Unlike the terror of the original, this one was made at the ever-silly Cannon Films where Hooper made several films, but they simply went for the comedy with very mixed results. Any references to similarities to the original, including anything documentary oriented or based on any true story quickly fades into the bloody silliness (this got an X for violence before the NC-17 was established, so Cannon and Hooper went the Unrated route) and the film has little to offer outside of some good acting moments and curio interest.

This did not stop Arrow from giving it Criterion Collection treatment, including offering two feature length audio commentary tracks, one with director and co-writer Tobe Hooper, moderated by David Gregory, the other with stars Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and special-effects legend Tom Savini, moderated by Michael Felsher, plus the six-part documentary It Runs in the Family featuring the making of the film in extended detail, with interviews including star Bill Johnson, co-writer L. M. Kit Carson, Richard Kooris, Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Tom Savini and Production Designer Cary White among others, an Alternate Opening sequence with different musical score, The Original Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes and the cleverly titled Still Feelin' The Buzz, an interview with horror expert Stephen Thrower, author of the book Nightmare USA.

The bonus Blu-ray and DVD here are two of Hooper's early films, rarely seen and restored in HD for this release. The Heisters (1964) is a quirky comedy that runs 10 minutes and is in color (originally shot in Techniscope and issued in Technicolor, but the print here does not look ;like it and seems to be missing some information on its sides), while Eggshells (1969) is his first feature-length film that runs 90 minutes, is also in color, is a counterculture headtrip film, was shot on 16mm film (1.33 X 1) and has many of the camera angles, look, feel and form we would later find in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These are both worth seeing and are some of his most interesting works, especially since he never tried narratives or experiments like these again.

Extras include Audio Commentary on Eggshells by Hooper, plus we get the interview featurette In Conversation with Tobe Hooper - the legendary horror director speaks about his career from Eggshells to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with audio-only accompanied by stills and a Trailer Reel with all the main trailers for Hooper's major motion picture releases to date.

For more on the Texas Chain Saw films, try these links:

Original 1974 film on U.S. Blu-ray


and in similar Australian Blu-ray edition


The Beginning 2006 prequel theatrical review


The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on The Bat is a new HD transfer and is easily the best the film has ever looked despite some softness at times, which is as much the limits of the DVD as anything. Director of Photography Joseph F. Biroc (Nightmare, The Unknown Terror, Home Before Dark, 13 Ghosts, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte) shot all kinds of genres, but was as good at thrillers and Noir as anyone and though this film is not a Noir, it has a superior use of monochrome and you can see how much effort was made to make the mansion look rich. Hope we see a Blu-ray soon.

Both Blu-rays have 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers from MGM and look the best they ever have on home video, though Invasion is cleaner and more consistent than Texas, which has some dirt and minor print issues despite a digital transfer supervised by Director of Photography Richard Kooris. It has the character and some of the clarity of a 35mm film shoot (versus the 16mm film of the original), but this could be a bit better just the same. The print used for The Heisters is not a true dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the film unless the print is one with vegetable dyes that is having some fading issues.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on The Bat is cleaner and clearer than previous DVD editions and even TV broadcasts, so it sounds fine for its age. Both Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes, with Invasion originally issued in old analog Dolby A-type Dolby System noise reduction and Texas originally issued in the lesser rival, analog Ultra Stereo. Arrow repeats the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Invasion that sounded so good on the MGM Blu-ray, while Texas has uncompressed PCM 2.0 Stereo audio that can decode fairly well with Pro Logic on home theater systems. The bonus films are uncompressed PCM 2.0 Mono on their Blu-ray versions (sounding about as good as they ever will) and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on their DVD version.

You can order both the expanded Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Blu-rays as noted above at this link and be sure to check out Arrow UK's site for more expanded special editions:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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