Screamers, directed by Christian Duguay and based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety”, came out in 95, that strange period when practical effects where becoming less common in films, and CGI was becoming more prevalent. In Screamers case, the film mixes practical and matte paintings, and CGI with mixed results. However, even with the cringe-worthy scenes, Screamers manages to tell a sci-fi horror story that is never complicated and always fun. Part of this is owed to Peter Weller’s no-nonsense performance, and of course, the always sexy Jennifer Rubin looking ever so hot.
The story for Philip K Dick’s story “Second Variety,” which Screamers is based on, has the Soviet Union and the West fighting each other after a nuclear war has rendered most of the planet a barren wasteland. The West develops robots called claws to help win the war. As the two factions fight each other, a peace treaty is called for, and the main character sets out on a mission to get to the conference on time. However, his journey results in meeting all sorts of deadly updated robots, which means peace may never come.
The movie Screamers moves things to a fictional planet named Sirius 6B, but keeps things very similar, with having Peter Weller heading to a peace treaty and discovering all sorts of new autonomous robots that are out to kill everyone. Of course, there is more to the story than that, but I would rather you enjoy this movie yourself. The film went on to receive several sequels, none of them capitalising on the “shocker” ending of the first film, which is a big shame. It may not be one of the best Philip K Dick adaptations (it’s no Total Recall), but it’s a fun enough time to recommend watching.
Scream Factory has released Screamers on Blu-ray for the first time, using an older HD master struck for the Digital version years ago. Scream, however, has cleaned up the film and done a great job at keeping the transfer free of any compression issues. There is a bit of dirt and debris present in a few scenes, especially the beginning, but nothing that distracts from the overall experience. Unfortunately, audio is only provided in English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. I say it’s unfortunate as Screamers originally had a 5.1 mix during its theatrical run. Why Scream decided only to provide a 2.0 mix is beyond me. I believe even the original DVD had a 5.1 mix included. Nevertheless, the 2.0 is serviceable, with a tendency of having low dialogue, resulting in the viewer having to fiddle with the volume.
Even though this isn’t a Collector’s Edition, Scream Factory has included a healthy amount of special features to peruse through. We have four new interviews, one with director Christian Duguay (21-minutes), an interview with actress Jennifer Rubin (19-minutes), an interview with producer Tom Berry (24-minutes), and finally an interview co-writer Miguel Tejada-Flores (11-minutes). Also included is the theatrical trailer.
The special effects for Screamers haven’t aged well, and honestly from what I can remember as a kid, they never did look that great anyway, but the characters are solid, the story is interesting, and the film is just an all around fun time. Scream Factory has done a great job of providing all sorts of new extra features. The video transfer might be old, but it still looks damn good. I only wish that the 5.1 track was included. Oh well, can’t win them all. Recommended!