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Imprint Films Shoots for the Stars with Strange Invaders

Feature Presentations: Episode 102

Welcome to this column dedicated to my appreciation of physical media supplements called Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not- I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. Today’s article will focus on Strange Invaders from Imprint Films.

A dead alien, disguised as a human, laying on a wooden floor with green blood leaking from under her.

I never have or will claim to be an expert in reviewing the technical specs of a physical media release. There are plenty of knowledgeable people in this realm of commenting on the audio and video aspects of a disc with better setups than I’ll ever own. This column, Feature Presentations, is a way of highlighting the supplemental material within a given disc. With all that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff and dive into my review of this Blu-ray release of Strange Invaders.

As a disclaimer of transparency for this episode of Feature Presentations, my review of Strange Invaders comes from a review copy that Imprint Films provided for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

In every cinephile’s life, movies come across your desk, and you go in blind, unsure of what to expect. It could be the smaller independent production or a film with a larger budget that flew under your radar. It can be an exciting time; will it be a diamond in the rough or just rough? Strange Invaders is the latter.

Starting with an intriguing premise, in the 1950s, the titular invaders find their way into a small town in Illinois. Twenty-five years later, a teacher teams up with a tabloid reporter after becoming embroiled in a government conspiracy. Both find themselves on the run as they seek the truth. I’m avoiding spoilers for those who have yet to see the film, but it follows a typical “on the run”-style plot, but the script leaves the better-than-the-movie-deserves talent out to dry with nonsensical plotting and Grand Canyon-sized logical gaps. It’s a shame, too, when you have actors such as Louise Fletcher, Nancy Allen, Paul Le Mat, Michael Lerner, and a script co-written by Bill Condon.

A couple sits in a 1950s vehicle with a purple sky in the background.

Where the film falters, Imprint Films steps up to the plate as usual with another stellar release. The package features a slipcase displaying theatrical artwork, while the disc case art design is an alternate slice of marketing material. Having two pieces of designs between the exterior and interior cases may seem like a small thing; it’s small details such as this that physical media enthusiasts such as myself appreciate.

Getting to the disc features, Imprint Films includes an archival commentary featuring co writer/director Michael Laughlin and co-writer Bill Condon. Recorded separately but integrated well, both commentators discuss how Strange Invaders came to be and their creative process. Laughlin’s comments figure more prominently across the track as he talks about the themes, his collaborators, his career, and a funny story on what dating Dean Martin’s daughter is like. While that last bit does not relate to Strange Invaders in the least, it was an amusing anecdote. An additional element that makes this commentary important is Laughlin lost his battle with Covid-19, so having his words available for all to listen to is more meaningful than ever.

On the other hand, Bill Condon recounts seeing the film for the first time in many years and how proud he still is of the film even after so many years. Condon feels genuinely happy with the product, with his enjoyment at reliving Strange Invaders is infectious and helps make this track solidly entertaining, even if the informative comments peter out well before the closing credits roll. Not every Academy Award winner will sit to chat about early movies in their career that bombed, but I’m glad Bill Condon did.

Even better, Imprint Films includes “Strange Films: The Unfinished Trilogy,” a newly-created 2024 video essay by film historian Jarret Gahan. For someone unfamiliar with Strange Invaders, like myself, it was eyebrow-raising that this film was the second entry of a planned trilogy, lovingly dubbed: “The Strange Trilogy.” Beginning with the 1981 slasher Strange Behavior, through to the written but unfilmed The Adventures of Philip Strange, Gahan runs through the inspirations for each entry in the “Strange Trilogy,” from the slasher boom of the early ’80s that influenced Strange Behavior and the ’50s science fiction movies from which Strange Invaders drew inspiration. While there isn’t as much discussion on the aborted third entry, I found “Strange Films: The Unfinished Trilogy” a wonderous and welcome surprise that is the high point of the release.

Imprint Films closes the Blu-ray release with the film’s original theatrical trailer.

Humans and aliens stand together looking down a road.

And there you have it! Even though I went into Strange Invaders unsure of what to expect, the final product was an uneven and disappointing mess. There’s plenty of talent all over the film, but none of it comes together in a satisfying or, at the least, entertaining whole. There is a fanbase for the movie, and those who champion Strange Invaders will find that Imprint Films did what they do best: give their all to a physical media release, regardless of the film’s quality. By porting over an informative archival audio commentary with an exceptional video essay, there’s enough here to satisfy Strange Invaders fans on this or any other planet.

Written by Robert Chipman

Robert is a lifelong cinephile and has had an admiration with film for as long as he can remember. When he's not checking out the most recent theatrical release, viewing a movie on one of a 1,000,000,000 streaming services or picking up the latest physical media disc, he's trying and failing to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He also has a weird fascination with Stephen Dorff. Make of that what you will. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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