UFO Sighted: Invasion Imminent! 3Oct2016
UFO on Blu-ray is still several months away. But as of today you can enjoy a preview of Gerry Anderson’s first live action TV series in stunning HD, with the release of the feature-length compilation Invasion: UFO.
As a taster of what’s to come with the full series release, Invasion: UFO offers material from the episodes Identified, Computer Affair, The Man Who Came Back and Confetti Check A-OK, compiled into a single, feature-length narrative.
Network’s Invasion: UFO is entirely new, rebuilt from the ground up using HD elements and formatted into 16:9 widescreen*. It has never looked this good. But for those who still want a fuzzy hit of nostalgia, we’ve also included the original version in all its (ahem) glory.
* For the complete series release, episodes will be presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1
Original 1980 videotape version
Original 1980 trailer
Dolby 5.1 mix (restoration only)
Full-frame opening and end titles
Textless end titles (HD, mute)
Background to Invasion…
ITC’s compilation movie Invasion: UFO had the honour of being the first home video release of the series, but those early VHS and Betamax copies were not the first domestic format to be made available to fans: several 8mm movies, edited down from complete episodes, had been released in Italy during the 1970s. It was in Italy again that the firstUFO compilation movies saw the light of day, beginning with UFO Allarme Rosso… Attacco Alla Terra! (Red Alert… UFO Attack on Earth!) These performed extremely well in cinemas, allowing fans to see the series in colour for the first time (Italian television was still broadcasting in black and white).
It was not theatrical distribution but cable TV that, in 1980, prompted ITC New York to assemble its own feature-length UFO compilation, aimed at the then-popular TV movie format, for distribution to pay-TV networks. Science fiction was suddenly hot property following the success of Star Wars, and, in response, ITC had issued its first compilation movies under the banner Super Space Theatre. Destination Moonbase Alpha and Alien Attack were put together in London, but for Invasion: UFO, it was ITC New York that did the honours.
The deadline for delivery of the UFO movie was extremely tight, forcing the ITC team to make some creative compromises, most alarmingly in the use of stock library music to augment the original soundtrack (Barry Gray’s master tapes being, at the time, unavailable). Perhaps worst of all for fans of the original was the new opening title sequence, aping the disappearing text from the Star Wars credits, with new graphics (in the groovy, but incorrect Amelia font) and new music – another library track – by Francis Monkman.
Fans have been divided as to its merits ever since, with those who first experienced UFO via the Invasion film tending to see it in a more favourable light. Whatever your opinion of ITC New York’s creative decisions, one factor was beyond question: the picture quality. Although sourced from 35mm prints of the episodes, the compilation was edited together on videotape, and the picture suffered accordingly.
These are all issues that we’ve addressed in the preparation of this new blu-ray edition. Because of audio synch issues with the original, a completely new soundtrack has been compiled from the source episodes, with the offending music cues replaced by Barry Gray originals. Additional sound effects added by ITC New York have also been removed. Of the original library music, only Francis Monkman’s main title, Dawn of an Era, remains. The episode elements have been sourced from previously-transferred 16:9 HD versions (mastered from original 35mm negatives) and newly-transferred 35mm main titles.
Fair play to ITC New York: they didn’t have the technology that’s available to us today, and they had to make the best of the materials to hand. In preparing this brand-new version, we’ve gone all out to give Invasion: UFO the truly cinematic feel it deserves.
The countdown to the complete series begins here…