DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. [1996 / 2013] [50th Anniversary] [Blu-ray]
The Classic Film Sequel to Dr. Who & The Daleks!
‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’ was directed by Gordon Flemyng, now fully restored and starring Peter Cushing in his return to the big screen as British TV's most iconic sci-fi hero, Doctor Who.
The earth of 2150 A.D. is a desolate and hostile ruin of a planet, crumbling at the edge of civilisation, slowly disappearing into the darkness of space. For the future of planet earth now belongs to The Daleks, a destructive army of alien invaders who have turned the human race into cowering slaves. Meanwhile deep within the London Underground a group of resistance freedom fighters are planning an attack. But there's only one man who could possibly help them succeed in destroying their extra-terrestrial enemies and take back control of planet earth. A man of mystery, a man of time and space, a man known only as...The Doctor.
FILM FACT: The design and colour scheme for the majority of the Dalek props was very similar that used for the television versions at the time, having large, black bases and predominantly silver paintwork, with grey shoulders, natural aluminium collars and slats and blue hemispheres. Three Dalek leaders are also shown. A gold Dalek appears to be in overall command of the invasion force, a black Dalek controls the Bedfordshire mining operation and bomb detonation, and a red Dalek is in charge of the Dalek spaceship and operations to capture human slaves, robotise prisoners and wipe out any resistance. As with the first film, the props were fitted with larger dome light than their TV counterparts, and some were equipped with a mechanical claw in place of the standard plunger. The breakfast cereal Sugar Puffs sponsored the film and, in an example of product placement, Sugar Puffs signs and products can be seen at various points in the film. In exchange for its funding, the company was also allowed to run a competition on its cereal packets to win a Dalek film prop, and feature the Daleks in its television advertisements. The film had a £286,000 budget, of which over £50,000 was spent on promotion.
Cast: Peter Cushing, Bernard Cribbins, Ray Brooks, Andrew Keir, Roberta Tovey, Jill Curzon, Roger Avon, Geoffrey Cheshire, Keith Marsh, Philip Madoc, Steve Peters, Eddie Powell, Godfrey Quigley, Peter Reynolds, Bernard Spear, Sheila Steafel, Eileen Way, Kenneth Watson, John Wreford, Robert Jewell (Lead Dalek Operator), Peter Hawkins (Dalek Voices), David Graham (Dalek Voices), Jim O'Brady (uncredited) and Fred Wood (uncredited)
Director: Gordon Flemyng
Producers: Joe Vegoda, Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky
Screenplay: Terry Nation (from the B.B.C. television serial), Milton Subotsky (screenplay), David Whitaker (additional material) and Sydney Newman (original concept) (uncredited)
Composers: Barry Gray and Bill McGuffie
Cinematography: John Laurence Wilcox, B.S.C. (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Techniscope)
Audio: English: 2.0 LPCM Mono Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 84 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: British Lion Films / STUDIOCANAL
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: STUDIOCANAL's release of ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’ on Blu-ray, is to celebrate actor Peter Cushing's centennial and the 50th Anniversary of the beloved BBC show Doctor Who. Though only loosely based on the plot of the BBC Television show, these two films were the first time audiences had a chance to see the Doctor and the wildly popular Daleks on film and in colour. Produced by Amicus Studios, Hammer's biggest rivals, these films were an attempt to beat Hammer in the family-friendly adventure/fantasy market. ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’ more or less continues where ‘Dr. Who & The Daleks' left off, with the Doctor and his companions fighting off the Daleks and their quest for planetary domination.
Much of the cast and crew returned from ‘Dr. Who & The Daleks,’ including star Peter Cushing and director Gordon Flemyng. Die hard Doctor Who fans should be forewarned that this is not a faithful adaptation of the TV show, namely the Doctor Who TV serial episode ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth.’ In the two Amicus films, Doctor Who is not a humanoid alien, rather he is simply an intelligent, kindly old grandfather who has managed to build a police box-shaped time machine and has the surname of Who.
This time, Doctor Who [Peter Cushing] takes his time machine, the T.A.R.D.I.S., to Earth's future in 2150. Along with him travels his niece [Jill Curzon] and his granddaughter Susan [Roberta Tovey] reprising her role from the first film. Joined by Tom Campbell [Bernard Cribbins], a local police constable from the present, they discover that Daleks have travelled to Earth and decimated much of the planet. The remaining humans have either been turned into slaves or workers, though there is a small underground resistance. The Doctor and Tom are kidnapped by the Daleks, while his niece and granddaughter team up with the leader of the resistance Wyler [Andrew Keir] to rescue them, stage an attack on the Dalek stronghold, and prevent the Daleks from unleashing a devastating bomb.
This film feels less childlike and fantastical than its predecessor due to the futuristic Earth setting and more obvious sci-fi influences, namely ‘War of the Worlds.’ There are also allusions to WWII with the destroyed, bombed-out look of London, again making the film more topically interesting for adult Doctor Who fans. This also heightens the drama and suspense, somewhat improving the plot over ‘Dr. Who & The Daleks.' The acting is about on par with the first film, simply moving the same characters, or at least character types, to a more dramatic setting.
The London-based set does the characters a lot of favours and overall this feels like a much more dramatic film for Peter Cushing's Doctor. Peter Cushing is still likely to surprise and possibly disappoint fans of the early Doctor Who, but he gives it his all, even though he was ill during filming, which caused a delay in production, along with numerous accidents on set. Roberta Tovey returns as his granddaughter from the first film and is equally charming. Jill Curzon and Bernard Cribbins replaces Jennie Linden and Roy Castle, and though Bernard Cribbins was the comic relief, is an improvement and slight edge over Roy Castle.
The special effects are about what you would expect from a Doctor Who film it is very entertaining and somewhat impressive at times, but there are also plenty of moments where you can see things like the strings holding up the Dalek saucer. As with ‘Dr. Who & The Daleks' there is some unintended humour, but this is better balanced in ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’ by suspenseful scenes of chaos in London and the Daleks causing much more destruction than in the first film. Though ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’ had a larger budget than ‘Dr. Who & The Daleks' it was not nearly as successful as its predecessor, resulting in the cancellation of a planned third film. There is also a somewhat humorous level of product placement from cereal company Sugar Puffs, which you should keep an eye out for if you watch the film. ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’is the better of the two films, but unfortunately didn't do as well at the box office as the first. An option for a third film, presumably to be based on The Chase, was not taken up.
Blu-ray Image Quality – ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’was filmed in in its original aspect ratio of Techniscope 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is presented digitally re-mastered in 1080p Technicolor resolution. But Techniscope was also known as quite a grainy format, and that's quite noticeable in the pre-credits sequences, set in contemporary (i.e. mid-Sixties) London at night. All told, this is a grainier film, and a grainier Blu-ray than the first film. But its grain that is supposed to be there. Skin-tones look fine and consistent with the way they tend to look in other colour films of this vintage. Colours in general are more muted, but blacks are solid and shadow detail what it should be. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – STUDIOCANAL gives us a 2.0 LPCM Mono Audio track that comes with optional English SDH subtitles for the hearing impaired. The lossless track opens up the film in all the right places. The clashes between the Daleks and the rebels, in particular, have good intensity and a few of the explosions actually surprise with very good depth. However, I think that it is Bill McGuffie's music score that benefits the most from the treatment - the jazzy themes are quite bright and well rounded. The audio track sounds clear and there is a decent mix between dialogue, the numerous sound effects, and the score. There is a slight hiss, due to the age of the print. The film was sound-designed to be in mono and released in cinemas in mono, and that's what it remains on this disc, in a 2.0 LPCM track. Dialogue, music and sound effects are clear and well balanced, and again thanks to STUDIOCANAL for including optional hard-of-hearing subtitles. Given the number of explosions and other special sound effects in this film, let's be thankful that no one has decided to remix this into fake 5.1 surround sound.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: Much of the following extras is somewhat of a rehash from the extras on the first film, but will still be of interest for any Doctor Who and Peter Cushing fans.
Special Feature: Restoring ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’  [1080p] [2.35:1] [7:11] Again we hear from BFI curator Jo Botting talking about the challenge to cinema from television and how scope formats were part of the arsenal used by distributors to get audiences back in cinemas. Marcus Hearn discusses Gordon Flemyng's use of widescreen Techniscope. Techniscope's poorer image quality was also a problem that faced Deluxe when they restored the film from a 35mm interpositive made in 1969 from the Techniscope negative. Grading and repair are discussed by Paul Collard and John Heath while additional manual frame repairs are demonstrated by Lisa Copson and Ian Pickford returns to explain the audio restoration.
Special Feature: Interview with Actor Bernard Cribbins  [1080p] [1.78:1] [4:02] An all too brief chat with 'national treasure' Bernard Cribbins about the legacy of the film, and his contribution to the film and interactions with Peter Cushing, previously in the film ‘She' during the shooting of the film. Bernard Cribbins also stated that working with Peter Cushing, “he always looked to me as though he was chewing a mint... and then he would speak.” Bernard Cribbins tells a story about how chief Dalek operator Robert Jewell's Australian-accented on-set Dalek voice caused him and Peter Cushing to corpse, much to Gordon Flemyng's displeasure and also getting the giggles with the Daleks. He also touches on his interview with Barry Letts for the role of the Doctor shortly after Jon Pertwee vacated the role on television. The sound mix on this feature does not seem to have a middle channel included and is directed to left and right channels, resulting in a very echoing quality.
Special Feature: Interview with author Gareth Owen  [1080p] [1.78:1] [5:00] Gareth Owen, author of The Shepperton Story, discusses the production history of ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’ Gareth Owen talks about what he did on the first Blu-ray disc extras, especially giving a brief overview of the circumstances of the film's production, much of the London location shoot being done by stealth on Sunday mornings.
Special Feature: Stills Gallery: A disappointingly small collection of black-and-white promotional images, behind-the-scenes stills, model shots, ad campaigns, the campaign book and a Jill Curzon colour promotional image. Not exactly comprehensive and it strangely doesn't include the many posters or lobby cards which were issued. This is a self-navigating stills gallery of production stills.
Theatrical Trailer  [1080p] [2.35:1] [3:00] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D.’ and with this trailer the voice over fails to mention the word “Dalek” or the character “Doctor Who” and leaves you with the impression that the “Robomen” were in charge of the Daleks and were their henchmen. Not a patch on the iconic ‘Dr. Who & The Daleks' trailer.
Finally, overall this is a really fun, sci-fi-themed film loosely based on the early Doctor Who series. Though Peter Cushing's human Doctor Who lacks the menace and cold intelligence of the first official Doctor Who William Hartnell. Peter Cushing fans and Dalek fanatics will want to seek out both of these Doctor Who films for their undeniable entertainment value despite [or because of] moments of silliness. STUDIOCANAL has done a fine job releasing them both on Blu-ray and the combined special features are very enjoyable. North American audiences should be forewarned that this Blu-ray release is Region B/2 and will only play on a Multi-region Blu-ray players. These 2 New Re-mastered Blu-ray releases are brilliant and if you are an avid Doctor Who fan, you will love these 2 Doctor Who films and will give you lots of viewing pleasure and viewing these Blu-ray discs and was even better than when I saw these films in the cinema, which was a joy to behold and proud to have these Doctor Who films in my Blu-ray Collection and will give sci-fi fans endless hours of enjoyment. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso