There are products of the ’90s that really show their age when revisiting nowadays, and SPECIES is one of those products. While the movie is without a doubt still just as entertaining as ever, the CGI really shows its cartoonish effect and the HD conversion Scream Factory has put together doesn’t make it more believable. However, the new 4K scan really makes the movie shine and the practical effects that are underutilized look fantastic. If you’re alien to the world of SPECIES, then now’s a great time to be introduced. With the new release of the first film, Scream Factory has now gifted fans a complete franchise on Blu-ray to own and revisit with retrospective interviews and commentaries.
For the newly initiated, a government team exchange transmissions with an alien life force that includes information about alien DNA. They use this to create an alien human hybrid that ends up growing faster than they anticipated. We’re introduced to the hybrid, Sil, when she’s twelve years old (played by an early-in-her-career Michelle Williams), and she escapes the lab after these scientists decide she’s too dangerous and attempt to kill her. Sil ends up maturing into an adult real fast (now played by Natasha Henstridge), and she begins to seek out men who can assist her on her mission to reproduce. A team is assembled to help seek out Sil and kill her before she can mate.
Many familiar faces show up, like Michael Madsen and Forest Whitaker, as a supposed clairvoyant who can only predict the obvious. His character, Dan, will literally find himself in the middle of a crime scene, only to offer thoughts like “something bad happened here.” What helps save these scenes is Ben Kingsley giving him the look of death, as if thinking, “Why are you even here?”
There’s a heavy sense that the filmmakers wanted to explore how men will never be able to tame the female spirit to their liking. Once they received even an inkling that Sil was a strong being, her death was immediately ordered. The fact that the scientists chose to make her female is even more interesting, as a male character flat-out states it was a purposeful choice, so that the alien could be “more controllable.” Her upfront approach to sex seems to scare some of the men she meets, and it’s amazing to watch her pretty much never take no for an answer. Sil is an aggressive creature who will stand on her own, even if a car runs her down and she may or may not have insurance.
Scream Factory has assembled a nice restoration, along with some great special features. The main attraction outside of the feature is a new set of interviews called “Afterbirth: The Evolution of SPECIES,” which includes interviews with director Roger Donaldson, cinematographer Andzej Bartkowiak, and others. This places a lot of emphasis on the special-effects work and action sequences, as well as some reflections on working on the alien designs with H.R. Giger. The rest of the features are carried over from previous releases, but I absolutely adore “From Sil To Eve,” which is a more current interview with Henstridge that was previously seen on Scream Factory’s release of SPECIES 2.
Along with a couple commentaries, this truly feels like a collector’s edition. The newly designed cover art is a bonus, and it really sits nicely with the sequels, even if you find them inferior. My personal favorite is the second film, but that may be due to some nostalgia, as it deals with a hot male astronaut looking to breed every chance he gets, which happened to be released when I was going through puberty. The series is highly recommended for science fiction fans who don’t mind a dose of erotic imagery.
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Tags: Alfred Molina, Aliens, Andrzej Bartkowiak, Ben Kingsley, Blu-ray, Christopher Young, Conrad Buff, Dennis Feldman, Forest Whitaker, H.R. Giger, Marg Helgenberger, Michael Madsen, Michelle Williams, Natasha Henstridge, Roger Donaldson, scream factory, The 1990s, Whip Hubley