Blu-ray Review: Species (Collector’s Edition)

Alien encounter films usually involve either a UFO landing and attacking Earthlings or people landing on a strange planet and finding the local creatures want to eat them. There’s always a physical contact that quickly turns messy. From War of the Worlds to Alien, things never work out right. Sure there’s no bloodshed at the end of Close Encounter of the Third Kind, but how do we not know that they didn’t eat Richard Dreyfuss on the flight back to their planet? Species was a bit of a sleeper hit when it arrived in the summer of 1995. This was promised something that was more science fiction and the concept delivered.

After years of listening to the stars, SETI finally gets a message from a distant civilization. Instead of just asking how the weather is like on Earth, the alien first send an amazing formula for making an endless fuel supply. When this turns out to be reliable, the aliens send the recipe of how to make an alien and human hybrid. Xavier Fitch (Sexy Beast‘s Ben Kingsley) and his team mix up a little girl named Sil (Manchester By the Sea‘s Michelle Williams). In barely 3 months, the hybrid girl looks like she’s 12. She has involuntary fits that make Kingsley rethink the entire project. She has nightmares of an alien creature. When he tries to cease the experiment, Sil escapes the lab and hit the rails like a intergalactic hobo. Fitch quickly puts together a team to track down his little test girl including Dr. Stephen Arden (Prick Up Your Ears‘ Alfred Molina), biologist Dr. Laura Baker (CSI‘s Marg Helgenberger), semi-psychic Dan Smithson (Star Wars: Rogue One‘s Forest Whitaker) and killer for hire Preston “Press” Lennox (Kill Bill‘s Michael Madsen). They get hot on the track of Sil, but don’t realize she’s transformed into a woman (Eli Stone‘s Natasha Henstridge). Even though she’s part alien, she’s got a ticking biological clock. She buys a wedding dress and goes on the prowl for Mr. Baby Daddy. Can the scientists, psychic and killer stop her before she breeds?

Species goes beyond the normal alien encounter plot and it pays off. We’re not stuck with staring at space ships and ray guns from another planet. It’s all our tech and woman who transforms into an H.R. Giger monster. The man who created Alien gets to bring his sexual creative vision into Sil’s true body. The film has the proper amount of alien transformation to keep things interesting. Besides a great scary monster, there’s cast of serious stars on the trail. Kingsley is sweetly cold blooded as he must take out Sil. Forest Whitaker is goofy as the psychic who can feel empathy with others. Michael Madsen is badass even when he loses his rough edges around Marg Helgenberger. Alfred Molina once more rules the scene when he stumbles across Sil and doesn’t know until its too late. Henstridge is a major find as the libido driven alien. She keeps it from just being a dumb USA Up All Night movie from the Troma vault. The ending keeps things tight without dragging in the entire military. Species was so good, they made three more movies (all are already out from Scream Factory). But the original is remains the best of the series. Species: Collector’s Edition brings together all the elements that made it a box office hit and a hot rental at the video store.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the great effects when Sil turns into the alien. There’s a lot of fine H.R. Giger work that was lost on the VHS tape. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA that allows quite a few bumps to be felt around the room during the final face off. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentaries allow you to hear from the director talking to both cast and crew. The first track has Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen And Director Roger Donaldson recount the chase. The second includes Director Roger Donaldson, Make-up Effects Creator Steve Johnson, Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Edlund And Producer Frank Mancuso Jr. as H.R. Giger is always not far from their words.

Afterbirth: The Evolution Of SPECIES (36:43) features interviews With Director Roger Donaldson, Cinematographer Andzej Bartkowiak, Production Designer John Muto, Composer Christopher Young, Creature Designer Steve Johnson and more. The cover how the movie evolved and became a major science fiction hit. Donaldson liked how the script mixed science fiction with horror. There’s a plenty of talk about how it is man who has to create the alien visitor.

From Sil To Eve (16:35) is an interview With Actress Natasha Henstridge. This was also on the Species II Blu-ray from Scream Factory, but it covers both films.

Engineering Life (16:50) has scientists discussing the reality of creating alien life in the lab. They seem to think the idea can work, but there’s debate if the creature could look like Natasha Henstridge.

H.R. Giger At Work (12:07) is the must watch bonus feature. This is video the crew shot while hanging out with the artist at his studio. There’s quite a bit of Giger making his Sil. But the most amazing part is Giger creating his skull railroad train.

The Making Of Species: The Origin, The Concept, The Discovery (49:05) is a documentary about the series made for a previous home video release. There’s plenty of breakdown on his the film came about including an extensive interview with screenwriter Dennis Feldman. There’s a lot of fine behind the scenes footage.

Designing A Hybrid (15:48) goes into the green screen effects of how to make heads explode.

Theatrical Trailer (1:52) promises the unique concept of how man will encounter aliens.

Alternate Ending (2:11) is an additional scene after the films finale with certain characters sharing ice cream cones on a pier.

Photo Galleries includes Production Design, Creature Designs, Film Stills, Behind-The-Scenes Photos, Posters And Lobby Cards from the film. My favorite of the batch is Creature Designs as it takes us into Giger’s world and the effects crew adapting it for the production.

Scream Factory presents Species: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Roger Donaldson. Screenplay by: Dennis Feldman. Starring: Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker, Marg Helgenberger & Natasha Henstridge. Running Time: 108 minutes. Rated: R. Released: July 16, 2017.

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