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The Blob (1988) – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Many US collectors missed the boat on Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of The Blob. Twilight Time’s limited sales model wound up being a pretty solid success for them and that means it was largely unavailable. Umbrella released a nice (And better than Twilight Time’s) version in Australia that those who don’t fear importing have probably owned for years. Now, more excitement for this classic as Scream Factory takes a swing at it. But before anyone could wonder what another version would entail, the eye-opening laundry list of new interviews and extras were unveiled and this release immediately got our attention (Well, done Reverend Entertainment!). This exciting release is coming in JUST in time for Halloween on October 29th. Make sure you pre-order yourself a copy from Scream Factory’s website or the Amazon link below to ensure you’re able to have it in your clutches to watch on Halloween night this year.

Film 

The Blob is back in this horrific tale about a vile, malignant life-form that crashes to Earth in a cozy, rural American town called Arborville. Untroubled by conscience or intellect, the Blob does only one thing – and it does it well. It eats anything and everything that moves: men, women, and children. It wants to swallow the entire town of Arborville. The original version of the Blob thrilled and terrified movie audiences back in the 1950s. Now the oozing, gooey killer is back.

Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of The Blob has become a cult classic over the years and a film that could easily fall under the overlooked or underseen category. We honestly should be viewing the film and discussing it with the same revelry as we do John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fog. The film surpasses the original with ease, only to be really something of its own entity entirely and one of the best genre offerings of the 1980s from many aspects.

Russell’s film is thrilling, fun and nostalgic in all the right ways and and never too much to handle from any of those aspects. The film has a nice classic setup and town for the film, akin to the ideas of the original, but in turn it has a much meaner approach to the attack, showing more gruesome fates and making the stakes more intense. Townsfolk have that staple movie-smalltown charm and feel to them with a bit of the 80s modern tossed in. Their deaths are grisly, making you feel bad for their undeserving end and the threat of the blob feels much more real.

One of the seminal aspects of why this film is such a treat, is the marvelous special effects work on display in the film. The blob itself is a pretty nifty practical feel come to life on the screen and holds up under modern scrutiny for the majority of the film in not being super obvious. Some of the stuff they do with the blob still has a real “Wow, how’d they do that!” movie magic charm. Deaths in the film bring on a nightmare educing series of bodies being dismembered, haunting corpses and unbelievable miniature work happening. They happen quickly, brutally and graphically. I’ll name drop it again, but if you love John Carpenter’s The Thing and have not seen The Blob from 1988, fix that as soon as you can.

1988’s The Blob is such a fun and gruesome movie all at the same time with, not just a good cast, but fun characters to follow as well. There are some really fun payoffs and just all around terrific filmmaking. Its not too mean, but its the furthest thing from safe or light either. Its a film that should be a regular part of October horror rotations and one that I’m glad seeing live on as a classic in some form through all the years. I’ve been fond of it since muster up the courage to rent it after being freaked out by the VHS cover when I was a kid (Seriously, it was wicked). Now, there’s a terrific new Blu-ray release that showers it in all the love and care its deserved.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Blob’s return to the Blu-ray format looks different than both the Twilight Time and Umbrella releases that I am familiar with. This one boasts a bit darker, sharper and more defined image. Details are quite strong and even quite impressive with the details on the effects when you really get a look at them. As mentioned in the review, for the most part they hold up, but there are a couple shots maybe mad more obvious from the advent of high definition restorations. No biggie though, honestly.

Depth: Depth is pretty solid and many of the exterior scenes feature great spacing and nice pushback for the foreground and background images. Motion is smooth and cinematic with no blurring or jittering distortions causing any distraction during viewing.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and really looks nice a saturated, holding onto good details and looking closer to a natural level than a lighter/grayer one. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty strong here and stand out decently in the darkness. The blob itself is a standout and really is quite rich on the screen. Everything else is pretty well saturated with more pronounced colors coming through in a pretty bold way.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the film. Facial features and skin textures/details show up very good in close ups and pretty respectable enough in further out shots.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The Blob features a pretty rock solid and effective 5.1 track that really has a lot of fun with the sound effects and the score weaving around through the channels. It features a nice balance and no really issues with anything stepping on one another’s toes while also delivering some terrific jump moments.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Booming fire, blob attacks, glass shatter, gunfire and more bring a respectable bump from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals come with a good crisper clarity.

Extras 

The Blob (1988) comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With director Chuck Russell, special effects artist Tony Gardner and cinematographer Mark Irwin, moderated by filmmaker Joe Lynch
  • With actress Shawnee Smith
  • With director Chuck Russell, moderated by film producer Ryan Turek

 It Fell From the Sky! (HD, 22:26) – Part 1 of an interview with director Chuck Russell. This portion has Russell discussing his love of theater and silent film stars having an influence and building his passion for film. His early life and decision to LA is touched upon, meeting Frank Darabont, working on Hell Night, plenty on A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Including getting the job out of being turned down by Bob Shaye for The Blob).

I Killed the Strawberry Jam (HD, 26:32) – Part 2 of an interview with director Chuck Russell. Continuing from the first interview, Russell goes into the full run of making The Blob. He talks being given confidence in seeing The Fly remake succeed in redoing a classic (Even hiring the cinematographer), making the actual blob (It was filled with some heavy filling agent still used in milkshakes), casting, the city they shot in Louisiana and also goes over plenty of his favorite moments in the film. It closes with Russel’s thoughts on the film and monster’s legacy.

We Have Work to Do (HD, 14:13) – An interview with actor Jeffrey DeMunn. DeMunn opens with an anecdote about a teacher telling him he missed his calling at a very young age as well as his love for stage and Ingmar Bergman (“Those people didn’t know there was a camera in the room, it was that intimate!”). He recalls his first commercial and the first day he shot a “real film”. He read the script on the plane not really having much familiarity with the original.

Minding the Diner (HD, 16:40) – An interview with actress Candy Clark. She opens about her hometown and how modeling led her to acting and that she really just wanted to do extra work on the side. A small bit part in a Dustin Hoffman movie led her to seeing screen tests for The Godfather which led to reading for Fat City then worked her way to attending the Academy Awards. Clark also takes us through her memories on The Blob and working with Chuck Russell (She’s quite amazed at how much scarier it looked in the finished product than when shooting it).

They Call Me Mellow Purple (HD, 15:21) – An interview with actor Donovan Leitch Jr. This guy is the son of the famed musician Donovan, which I had no idea. He talks growing up in Hollywood and during his time wanting to become a brat packer. Leitch first thought he was too good for the movie and didn’t understand the importance of his part to the story but director Chuck Russell explained it to him and he was pretty excited and is still big on this film to this day.

Try to Scream! (HD, 18:38) – An interview with actor Bill Moseley. A very nice interview with genre legend Bill Moseley as he talks growing up loving horror movies and that The Blob was his first big movie. There’s a lot of joking about having the title of Soldier #3, but it winds up coming full circle in a pretty funny story that revolves around his auditioning for The Shawshank Redemption for Frank Darabont who thought his resume was a bluff.

Shoot Him! (HD, 18:10) – An interview with cinematographer Mark Irwin. This guy loses major points for dogging the films of Alfred Hitchcock in this interview (“Looking at them is so boring”). Though, I can’t stay mad at him as he’s shot a lot of Cronenberg films (Scanners, Dead Zone, Videodrome, The Fly), Mark Lester (Showdown in Little Tokyo, I Come In Peace) as well as some other great stuff like Scream and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. He goes through technique, style and some of the secrets of how they made this film work from the lens point of view.

I Want that Organism Alive! (HD, 12:23) – An interview with Blob mechanic Peter Abrahamson. He’s pretty excited and energetic in this interview as he drew his inspiration from having an epiphany after being amazed by Empire Strikes Back and picking up his first issue of Cinefantastique. He cuts right to the chase and gets into the details of working on The Blob and the humorous aspects of things like having to send crew guys out to buy cases of condoms and lube frequently during the shoot for certain effects.

Gardner’s Grue Crew (HD, 28:18) – Behind-the-scenes footage of Tony Gardner and his team. Set to the score of the film, this shows a lot of effects warehouse prep, testing, set up and more for the gore effects in the film.

The Incredible Melting Man (HD, 22:02) – An interview with special effects artist Tony Gardner. He goes through his path to getting to work on the film and discusses many of the different moments and effects from the film with his insight as well as stuff he was fond of. Interestingly, he notes that in order to make the first kill effective, they save shooting it til last so they would be familiar with working with the blob effects. Gardner believes the film still has life left in it to last for even more years.

Monster Math (HD, 26:14) – An interview with special effects supervisor Christopher Gilman. He has an interesting kind of “ho hum” way he wound up being in the industry and finding his desire to create. Gilman goes over details of his personal work on the film, including how they did the ending and the importance of props even down to a simple snow globe on Shawnee Smith’s night stand. Overall, he really enjoyed the finished product a lot (“It paid my bills and kept my crew employed”).

Haddonfield to Arborville (HD, 20:32) – An interview with production designer Craig Stearns. He goes through his college work and then delves into the film he worked on with his classmate John Carpenter including Halloween and The Fog. There are couple other familiar films like Children of the Corn and The Shining miniseries that he touches upon. The Blob portion doesn’t take up a lot of time in this interview but he explains that Chuck Russell pretty much had most of this mapped out already.

The Secret of the Ooze (HD, 19:41) – An interview with mechanical designer Mark Setrakian. Another person inspired from Star Wars with an epiphany of “This is cool, but woah someone MADE all that”. He’d have a personal tie to Lucasfilm when he worked on Howard the Duck, where he actually got the call to work on The Blob and moved to Los Angeles. “I was kind of on a brink of a psychotic episode while we were working on production” Setrakian claims as he apologizes for a spotty memory, revealing he was working 100 hour weeks on The Blob. He said he came up with the sound of The Blob and reveals how he came up with it. Unfortunately, while he finds a few “flawless” effects scenes in the film he found the film to be merely okay. But, he says it was worth it.

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 2:53)

TV Spot (SD, :32)

Still Gallery (HD, 5:00)

Summary 

1988’s take on The Blob remains one of the finest remakes of all time and one of the best showcases in practical effects work we’ve ever seen. Plus, its still thrilling and effective. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray, the long awaited return of the film on the format, knows this and has put together a massive array of brand new interviews with over 5 hours of listening to people discuss the film and their own careers. Reverend Entertainment has outdown themselves to the point that a standing ovation feels like its underselling it. The transfer and audio looks to be an improvement upon the Umbrella release I own, which is good news as it looks and sounds pretty terrific. This is a must have Scream Factory title and will have you spending quite sometime taking in the material.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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