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Memoirs Of An Invisible Man (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory’s last releases of John Carpenter came two years ago with the Shout Select release of Elvis and Scream Factor Collector’s Edition of Village of the Damned. It’s been a while, but they have come back with what was once unthinkable; John Carpenter’s titles owned by Warner Bros! One of said films is the Chevy Chase led, innovative effects film Memoirs of an Invisible Man (The only film not to have his name above the title…we’ll touch on that). Memoirs is accompanying two other John Carpenter films on July 24th. This one will contain a handful of vintage featurettes to go with a new transfer of the film for this release. You’ll want to make sure you don’t miss out on completing your John Carpenter Blu-ray collecting by pre-ordering it using the Amazon link below. 

Film 

Nick Halloway is an average businessman who undergoes an extraordinary change when an experiment gone awry turns him invisible. Government operative David Jenkins discovers Nick in his see-through condition at the scene of the accident and arranges for him to be taken into custody, but he escapes. As Nick tries to find out more about his strange situation, he receives aid from Alice Monroe, a pretty acquaintance who helps him avoid capture.

John Carpenter’s name appears above all of his feature films except for Memoirs of an Invisible Man. His reason for this has always been that he felt it wasn’t fully his film. Carpenter came onto this Chevy Chase project after Ivan Reitman had left. He claims curiosity of just taking on a studio film that was already done and he could just serve as a studio hand director. And while this could all be well and true, it also checks off a box on Carpenter’s career of tackling one of the classic monsters. The master had tried around this time to do a new take on The Creature From The Black Lagoon that never came to fruition, but here he’s taking on the Invisible Man.

While he’ll say its not a John Carpenter film, it does feature plenty of his touches. Mostly its in a lot of the framing and lighting for the film. However, you can see the film at odds with Carpenter’s direction and whatever sort of vision Chevy Chase has for the movie. Both of their tendencies can show up. In the end, some of Chevy’s should have been pushed to the side. There’s a narration over the film that makes this feel like a supernatural Fletch sequel which he should be distancing himself from in trying to play a more straight role here. However, Chase’s quirks tend to get through many of the film’s scenes that otherwise may have led to boredom. This stuff may have blended together more had things appeared more of a compromise than they do at odds with one another.

What really works in the film and still impresses, are the visual effects on display in the film. This is a happy marriage of optical effects and digital ones during a transitional period in cinema. I was worried about how they would turn out on this new Blu-ray and they hold up very well. Nothing looks cheapened or “old”. In fact, many of the effects probably look better and age well because they used more optical effects. And they really put Chevy Chase through the wringer in terms of stuff he had to wear and have painted on him.

Memoirs of an Invisible Man has had somewhat of a poor reputation, but its actually a nice spin on the Invisible Man lore. While they make the monster the hero of this film, they aren’t afraid to explore some of his darker inner tendencies with his power. Its not Hollow Man where he sexually assaults his neighbor, but there’s the idea of how far to take revenge with the advantage of his power (I wanna mention here that Sam Neill has really good villainous turn in the film and must’ve hit it off with Carpenter as he’d be the lead in In The Mouth of Madness) as well as the various snooping he does on people. As a John Carpenter film, he’s right to remove his name as its not his complete vision. But, as a modern Invisible Man story, its actually pretty decent.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Memoirs of an Invisible Man comes to Blu-ray via a 2K scan of the interpositive done by Warner Bros for this Scream Factory release. Compared to what I’ve seen in the past and foreign Blu-ray releases, this is a nice improvement and possibly the best its going to look. The 2K scan maybe was done to try and keep the authenticity of the special effects as a 4K could’ve been more revealing. They hold strong here. The film has a nice darkened look to it with a nice layer of grain. Details are readily apparent, with clothing texture and wear looking strong weather it be threads or a bit of dirt or dried sweat. This is just a really strong, above par effort that should satisfy Carpenter fans.

Depth:  Memoirs features an above average look on its depth of field. Characters move cinematically and without any distortion issues.

Black Levels: This film has a really, deep dark look and the blacks handle it surprisingly well. It really outlines and shades the image beautifully. For the most parts, details hold strong and not crushing was witnessed when viewing for this review.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty strong and bold in the image. There are some things with a nice glow to them. One of the stronger moments comes from a country home that is very much still decked out in 1970s color schematics and it translates quite well with its oranges and browns. Some of the outfits in this one do pop and burst better than you’d image.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to closing credits on the film. Facial features are strong in close ups and well enough in medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: While the film boasts its original stereo track instead of some reimagined 5.1 mix, it should be noted that this is a loud and plenty effective experience. Things get pretty loud and impactful with decently mixed intricate depth to the sound effects. Its woven in nicely with a score that takes center stage from time to time. All in all, this track really works for the film very well.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. The narration very much sounds exactly like a Fletch movie, but is pretty deep and set louder than the character interaction dialogue.

Extras 

The reverse side of the cover insert includes a promotional still that has information regarding the transfer of the film.

How to Become Invisible: The Dawn of Digital F/X (SD, 4:11) – In this vintage featurette (But not super old), the digital effects guys go over the pioneering of these effects during the transition of optical and digital. You get to see what Chevy Chase went through during filming and how they pieced things together to make it all work.

Vintage Interviews with Director John Carpenter, Actors Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah (SD, 5:23) – A mixture of on-set and EPK interviews with everyone complimenting one another and providing little tid bits about the film. Nothing very heavy here.

Behind the Scenes Footage (SD, 5:07) – This video footage contains a lot of John Carpenter directing and discussing them with his cast and crew. You also get plenty of Chevy Chase throwing his two cents in and rehearsing scenes.

Outtakes (SD, 3:09) 

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:01)

TV Spots (SD, 4:11)

Summary 

Memoirs of an Invisible Man is probably a better time than you might imagine it is or remember from years ago. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release of the film has it looking and sounding very nice to go along with a roster of vintage extras that actually do a pretty decent job of giving you some added insight even if there are some fluffy bits about them. Maybe they are more fascinating in a “peering into history” kind of way than they are learning anything deep. If you’re a Carpenter fan or a classic monsters enthusiast, this is one you will definitely want to add to your collection.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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