The Blob: Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Shout! Factory
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (20th March 2020).
The Film

When talk turns to the subject of remakes that got it right, my top three responses are always the same: John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” (1986) and Chuck Russell’s “The Blob” (1988). Of those three, Russell’s film is the only one that could be called underrated - even with a growing legion of horror fans singing its praises. Featuring a screenplay by Russell and Frank Darabont, the nuts & bolts of the story are the same as the original 1958 classic but what elevates this revision are a constant air of danger – nearly every character is fair game to die, as we learn during one of the film’s best moments – and the incredible practical FX work, here courtesy of Tony Gardner and his team. “The Blob” isn’t just one of the best horror remakes out there; it’s one of the best from that hot-again era, the 80's.

The small town of Arborville, CA gets a twilight visitor in the form of a meteorite containing gelatinous ooze, one which rapidly attaches itself to the hand of a transient who first appears on the scene. The terrified man stumbles out of the woods onto the road and is nearly hit by a car containing Paul (Donovan Leitch, Jr.), his date, Meg (Shawnee Smith), and their unexpected third-wheel passenger, Brian (Kevin Dillon). Seeing the old guy could use medical attention they rush him to the local hospital… where that once-small glob of ooze consumes the man’s body and grows exponentially, swallowing up anyone in its path. The blob ravages across town, absorbing citizens and using their dissolved remains to bolster its expanding mass. Government agents arrive and assure everyone they are here to help… but that often means the exact opposite in this kind of movie.

A remake should elevate the source material from which it is derived. Sounds obvious, but dozens of awful remakes continue to prove it isn’t such a simple task. Russell’s film succeeds firstly by making the eponymous antagonist so damn scary. Once this blob starts to grow there is nothing capable of stopping it – what’s someone gonna do, shoot it? Burn it? Hit it with a train? It’s an amorphous slime that can squeeze into any cavity and survive if even a single shred of it remains, not unlike the main monster in Carpenter’s “The Thing”. And it moves fast as a sonofab*tch, too. Gardner and his team ensure viewers know the dangers go beyond simply being absorbed into the blob as though it were a big Jell-O mold; this sucker is toxic and contact can be akin to sticking your hand in a vat of acid. Many townsfolk are dissolved into a chunky puddle of goo before the credits roll. Garner’s FX are slimy and savage, with a personal standout being the Lover’s Lane boob grab, where a young creep gets much more than the handful he expected.

Casting is generally strong, too. Paul is the quintessential all-American high school football star, the kind of guy designed to be a leading man. Those expectations are melted away in short time, placing the spotlight on Dillon’s character, a man with... unconventional looks, a leather jacket, a bad attitude, and – wouldn’t you know it? – a heart buried deep down in there. What makes Shawnee Smith’s Meg a good match for Brian is that they aren’t a match; the two spend plenty of time quarrelling but both are all business when it comes time to strategize. They’re high school students given a few complexities and I enjoyed how the relationship grows over the course of the night. They have to work together or die; it’s that simple. A few notable faces pop up in the supporting cast, including Jack Nance as a doctor and Bill Moseley as a government lackey. Of course, my favorite will always be Art LaFleur for delivering the film’s best line: “Ribbed”.

Video

It would seem Scream Factory has used the same master supplied to both Twilight Time and Umbrella (in Australia) for their respective releases, and with no verbiage touting a new transfer or remaster that’s the most likely conclusion. This is not a bad thing; the 1.85:1 HD 1080p 24/fps image presented here looks excellent and is mastered using AVC MPEG-4 compression. Color saturation is strong, especially the range of red/pink/purple hues emanating from the titular mass. Russell provides blue lighting in a number of scenes – in particular, those in the woods - and the film gains an otherworldly quality because of it. Detailing takes a bit of a hit during nighttime when the image can get lost in darkness, but that’s a sporadic issue. This is a handsome transfer overall.

Audio

An English DTS-HD Master Audio track is available in both 2.0 stereo and 5.1 flavors, the latter of which adds a nice air of enveloping atmosphere as the blob oozes its way across town. Dialogue enjoys solid prioritization, with no instances of hissing or pops detected. Michael Hoenig’s score is excellent and it sounds exquisite in lossless audio, especially the final, triumphant cue “Snowfall”, which is my favorite track. Subtitles are available in English for the hearing impaired.

Extras

There are three audio commentary tracks:

The first features director Chuck Russell and film historian/producer Ryan Turek. This track was ported over from the now out of print Twilight Time release. Definitely worth listening to.


The second features director Chuck Russell, special effects artist Tony Gardner, and cinematographer Mark Irwin, moderated by filmmaker Joe Lynch. This is a new track produced for this release.

The third track features actress Shawnee Smith. Also a new track for this release.

“It Fell From the Sky – Interview with director Chuck Russell Part 1” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 22 minutes and 26 seconds.

“I Killed the Strawberry – Interview with director Chuck Russell Part 2” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 26 minutes and 32 seconds.

“We Have Work to Do – Interview with actor Jeffrey DeMunn” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 14 minutes and 13 seconds.

“Minding the Diner – Interview with actress Candy Clark” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 16 minutes and 40 seconds.

“They Call me Mellow Purple – Interview with actor Donovan Leitch, Jr.” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 15 minutes and 21 seconds.

“Trying to Scream! – Interview with actor Bill Moseley” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 18 minutes and 38 seconds.

“Shoot Him! – Interview with cinematographer Mark Irwin” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 18 minutes and 10 seconds.

“I Want that Organism Alive! – Interview with Blob mechanic Peter Abrahamson” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 12 minutes and 23 seconds.

“Gardner’s Grue Crew – Behind the Scenes on The Blob” (SD) featurette runs for 28 minutes and 18 seconds.

“The Incredible Melting Man – Interview with Special Effects Artist Tony Gardner” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 22 minutes and 2 seconds.

“Monster Math – Interview with Special Effects Supervisor Christopher Gilman” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 26 minutes and 14 seconds.

“Haddonfield to Arborville – Interview with production designer Craig Stearns” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 20 minutes and 32 seconds.

“The Secret of the Ooze – Interview with mechanical designer Mark Setrakian” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 19 minutes and 41 seconds.

A pair of theatrical trailers (1080p) runs for a collective 2 minutes and 53 seconds.

A TV spot (SD) runs for 32 seconds.

A still gallery (SD) runs for 5 minutes.

Packaging

The two-disc set comes housed in a standard keep case. There is a slip-cover on first pressings.

Overall

This has been a favorite of mine since its many scenes of horror were seared into my mind at a young age and I am very pleased to say this latest edition from Scream Factory not only provides the best a/v quality out there but also a wealth of bonus features that dive deep into this deserved cult classic.

The Film: A Video: B+ Audio: A- Extras: A+ Overall: A

 


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