Director: Gerry Levy
Screenplay by: Mike St. Clair, Peter Marcus [actually Gerry Levy, Marcus was a pseudonym]
Starring: George Sanders, Maurice Evans, Patrick Allen, Hilary Dwyer, Neil Connery, Robert Flemyng, Lorna Wilde, Allan Cuthbertson
Country: United Kingdom
Running time: 92 min
Year: 1969

In the 1960s and 1970s, there were three big players in the British horror film landscape: Hammer, Amicus and Tigon. The first two have been very well served on Blu-ray; many Hammer films have been released on boutique disc in the UK, US and Australia, and the same for Amicus with its key output finding its way to high-definition home media.

But, for me, Tigon haven’t received the same treatment. The company released over 60 films, a third of which it produced, but a number either haven’t had UK Blu-ray releases, or, those that have, haven’t had the treatment they deserve. That’s all changing. Black House Films brought out a decent boxset of The Virgin Witch, complete with novelisation, and Radiance are due to distribute a Raro Video edition of Michael Reeves’ debut movie Revenge of the Blood Beast in July 2024. We’ve also had boutique releases of some of the sexploitation films Tigon released, amongst others.

This year has also seen the launch of the 88 Films Tigon Collection which, at the time of writing, includes five films. 88 have brought us wonderful 4K and Blu-ray editions of peerless folk horror classics The Witchfinder General and The Blood on Satan’s Claw, an excellent Blu-ray-only release of The Beast in the Cellar, and now Hannie Caulder, and the film that is the focus of this review, The Body Stealers.

The Body Stealers opens with a mystery – three parachutists disappear in mid-air after their parachutes open. It’s a great way to open the film and sees the opening credits play out over the descending parachutes, sans-bodies. As indicated by the film’s title, the bodies have been stolen. Cue a mystery sci-fi horror hybrid, more airing on the side of mystery until the science fiction and a small amount of horror come out in the final act.

Much of the film follows events to uncover the mystery, with an investigation team led by NATO General Armstrong (George Sanders) and the James Bond-esque Bob Megan (Patrick Allen), who is picked up for the mission in the middle of a romantic liaison. It’s a scene reminiscent of some of 007’s adventures, where Bond would be contacted by his superiors whilst in a compromising position with a love interest. Whilst the womanising and way Megan snoops around are reminiscent of Bond, as are one or two stunts, that’s about as far as the comparison goes. This is no spy film. For the first hour we’re mostly in sci-fi mystery territory, but the final act delves slightly, ever so slightly, deeper into horror, with blood curdling screams, old dark houses and the like, before a very sci-fi ending.

The Body Stealers is a film of actors with very distinctive and memorable voices, from Sanders to Allen, as well as Allan Cuthbertson, who portrays the character Hindesmith. I have fond memories of Cuthbertson from Fawlty Towers, where he played a Colonel in the episode Gourmet Night.

Patrick Allen is great in what is essentially the lead role. His voice gives him an air of gravitas and he plays the role well as a very likeable hero. It’s likely you’ll recognise his voice, as it featured in everything from the copyright theft warnings at the start of VHS releases in the 1980s, to classic British TV comedy including the narration of the first episode of Blackadder and as the announcer for TV shows by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Allen debuted in Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder and had starred in a number of films and ITC television shows at the time of the release of The Body Snatchers.

Sanders adds prestige to the picture as the General. Although his character comes and goes as the plot needs him, presumably he was top billed as he was the biggest star in the film. Sanders featured in many classics, winning an Oscar for his portrayal of a theatre critic in 1950 for All About Eve, and voicing Bengal tiger Shere Khan in Walt Disney’s animated adaptation of The Jungle Book in 1967. Special mention also goes to Maurice Evans, who played Dr Zaius in Planet of the Apes amongst other roles, and who is terrific in a dual role here in The Body Snatchers that I won’t spoil.

The cast is uniformly excellent though mostly male dominated, with women playing smaller but important and memorable roles, including Hilary Dwyer as Dr. Julie Slade, whom Megan enlists to help uncover the mystery, and Lorna Wilde as a mysterious woman called Lorna, whom Megan keeps running into late at night. There’s also a small role for Shelagh Fraser, perhaps best known as Luke Skywalker’s Aunt Beru in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, here playing a pub landlady who takes a shine to Megan.

There’s plenty to enjoy from a nostalgia perspective including some occasionally wonderful on-location footage, the odd shot of a busy street here and there, and a beach that wouldn’t look out of place in a Jean Rollin film. Given the nature of the plot, there’s a call for a lot of aerial footage of the parachutists and this is a particular, and well shot, highlight. The score by Reg Tilsley is also great, starting off in a very groovy 1960s and 1970s style before turning more dramatic and adding to both the sci-fi feel and the tension of some of the scenes.

At times it’s a very atmospheric piece, particularly the night-time beach scenes and that aforementioned final act in a creaky house where the mystery is finally unravelled and everything – cinematography, production design, music and the wonderful cast – gels to create some real tension, although the finale itself is relatively understated. Look out too in that finale for the spacecraft which is the same prop as one which featured in the Doctor Who feature film Daleks Invasion Earth 2150AD. As one of the extra features points out, it does feel quite a bit like a 70s Doctor Who TV episode too, not just with that prop; a take that I subscribe to. There’s also a James Bond feel, not just with the Megan character, but also with some of the stunts like the parachuting.

I have a lot of fondness for British sci-fi and horror – indeed all genres – from the 1960s and 1970s, and The Body Stealers fits into that category perfectly. It’s a well acted, mystery sci-fi/horror hybrid (mostly mystery until the sci-fi is increased with a dose of horror in the final act), with an intriguing story that unravels at a deliberately slow, but never dull, pace. There are some twists and turns along the way, memorable performances and the occasional use of on-location footage, which is a joy and all builds towards that low-ish key but nevertheless entertaining finale.


The Body Stealers is released on limited edition Blu-ray by 88 Films on 20th May 2024.  The transfer is generally excellent; colours pop and detail is rich, though some of the aerial footage is noticeably of a lower quality. Still, it’s hard to imagine the film ever looking this good. The audio is also great,with the dialogue, score and sound effects each coming through strongly and not overwhelmed by each other.


Glossy O-ring

Booklet notes by John Hamilton


Brand new, fully uncut 2K remaster from the original camera negative, featuring never before released sequences

High definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation in original 1.85:1 aspect ratio

Original uncompressed mono

Optional English SDH subtitles

Audio commentary by film critics David Flint and Allan Bryce

Audio commentary by Actor Patrick Allen, moderated by author John Hamilton

The Making of The Body Stealers

Invasion of The Body Stealers – An Introduction by Jon Dear

A Career Man – Will Fowler on George Sanders & The Body Stealers

Original trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring new artwork by Sean Longmore & original poster

The first commentary by film critic David Flint and Allan Bryce, who is the editor of the Darkside and Infinity magazines, is terrifc, and a standout extra on the disc. They pack loads of trivia into a very friendly and down to earth commentary, viewings of the movie on TV, the actors, cardigans, the 007 links (including a role for Sean Connery’s brother Neil), and how the movie is very much a product of the times. There’s a lot of love for the transfer too. First class stuff.

The second commentary sees author John Hamilton running through the film with actor Patrick Allen, who reveals he had never seen the film until watching the commentary, although he had seen rushes. Allen is a brilliant listen, not least thanks to his incredibly rich voice, but he clearly knows a lot about other actors and crew from the film and is happy to share anecdotes and his feelings on them, a look at the backlot and locations, and much, much more. There are some gaps but plenty is packed in. It’s a fabulous commentary.

The ‘making of’ features a range of interviews involving several cast and crew members. It features editor Howard Lanning, Dixon Adams who played David, Pamela Conway (billed as Lorna Wilde) who played Lorna, Sally Faulkner who played Joanna, and standby prop man Arthur Wicks. It’s a breezy piece, with some interesting snippets of information, particularly recollections of Sanders and director Gerry Levy, and memories of filming the nude scenes from Conway. The comments on Levy are quite revealing. The interviewees mostly speak of the film with fondness and it’s a decent piece.

Jon Dear’s introduction runs for 11 minutes, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s longer with how much is packed in. He focuses on the similarities the film has to 70s Doctor Who, James Bond and some of the other elements he enjoys about the film. A great listen.

Will Fowler provides a richly detailed 20 minute look at Russian-born George Sanders – noting he appeared in over 120 films. Fowler looks at Sanders’ Hitchcock roles, and TV series that he came across featuring Sanders. It’s a fabulous look at his output and you get a real sense for Fowler’s fondness for the actor and why he enjoys his performances so much. It also delves into Sanders’ personal life, including how he lived the Hollywood lifestyle, had four wives, and his struggles, particularly his suicidal thoughts, the latter of which were well reported at the time he guest-starred in the 1960s Batman TV series.

A typically late 1960s/early 1970s trailer rounds out the on-disc package.

I wasn’t provided with the booklet, but if it’s anything like the ones that accompany previous 88 Films Tigon Collection releases, it should be excellent.

The Body Stealers is an intriguing and entertaining sci-fi mystery, with the occasional horror element, which I enjoyed a lot. It’s incredibly well served by 88 Films, with a great transfer and a fantastic array of well curated extras. It’s another first class addition to 88’s small but growing Tigon Collection.


The Body Stealers - 88 Films
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Passionate about film, from the silents to the present day and everything in between, particularly 80s blockbusters, cult movies and Asian cinema.

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