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Chuck Russell's 1988 remake of The Blob (co-written by Russell and Frank Darabont) takes place in the small Colorado town of Arbeville where everyone at the local high school is consumed with preparing for various sports events. So consumed are they and all around them, that no one seems to notice when a meteor comes hurtling out of the sky and lands nearby.
That same night, a football player named Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch) is out on a date with a foxy cheerleader named Meg (Shawnee Smith). While driving around, they crash into a homeless guy who runs into the middle of the road in front of them. This is more than just a simple case of ‘man gets hit by car', however, once they take the poor old dude to the hospital, they learn that the gooey mess on his hand has literally taken on a life of its own… and it's hungry. Or at least it seems hungry, once it devours most of the homeless man and then, shortly after, Paul too.
Those in charge figure that local hoodlum Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon) has probably got something to do with this, after all, he's a magnet for trouble. He knows what's really going on though, because he saw the meteor. He and Meg work together to try and get the authorities to do something about it but no one believes these two crazy kids until it's too late and the Blob has grown to massive and exceedingly dangerous proportions! The Feds come swooping in to take care of business but it's probably already too late, and even if it isn't, their motives are questionable at best.
Made shortly after the success of 80s remakes of 50s classics like The Thing From Another World and The Fly, like those pictures this revamped take on The Blob uses the same premise but exploits it differently thanks in no small part to technological advances made possible in the special effects department. As such, we get a gooier and gorier movie than the one made in 1958 starring Steve McQueen, but the remake does still manage to retain much of the fun that was inherent in the first version. The gore effects are definitely there and definitely nastier than the original, this one went for an R-rating and succeeded in getting it, but it never feels like it's gone too far or become too nasty. The fact that the script plays its silly concept completely straight helps here, eschewing the comedic elements in favor of a darker, more serious atmosphere but still smart enough to put entertainment front and center. There's humor here to be sure, but it's darker than the humor featured in the first take on the story and in many ways, this works to the film's advantage.
Of course, there are some changes made to the script to update things but these changes, some of which are admittedly fairly predictable and maybe even a little generic, do work quite well in the context of the story being told. Performance wise, things shape up alright. Kevin Dillon is fine in the lead and while he lacks the screen presence of Steve McQueen, he is well cast as the rebellious bad boy on a motorcycle. Shawnee Smith, seen here long before her recurring role in the Saw movies, is also pretty decent and supporting efforts from Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Del Close, Candy Clark and the great Jack Nance are also memorable. The cast all do fine work here. Eagle eyed viewers may spot Bill Moseley as one of the soldiers.
The updated special effects are quite good. The Blob in this movie is much faster than in the original film and this makes it more fearsome. As far as the monster design work goes, well, it's still very much a ‘blob' but the filmmakers made it translucent which means that when it grows in size and starts moving about town, you can see some of its victims inside, which is a nice, creepy touch. Add to that some slick camerawork and a solid score and Russell's remake of The Blob turns out to be a really fun time at the movies.
The Blob arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory with a transfer that seems to mirror the Twilight Time Blu-ray release from a few years back, save for the fact that it is just a touch darker than that earlier release. The film is presented in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The transfer is crisp and clean and shows very good fine detail throughout. There are no issues with any print damage though a fine layer of film grain is present, as it should be. There are no obvious issues with noise reduction nor were any compression artifacts or edge enhancement problems noticed during playback. Color reproduction is very strong across the board with the pink/purple hues of the Blob itself looking great. Skin tones are nice and lifelike while black levels stay solid throughout.
Audio is presented in English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio with optional English closed captioning provided. There's maybe not quite as much rear channel action here as you might hope for in some scenes but directional effects are frequent and typically used very well. Dialogue is always clear and properly balanced and the score sounds strong and powerful without burying anything. The sound effects also have good presence here, and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion to note. An optional DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is also included and it too sounds fine, without any noticeable issues.
Shout! Factory has stacked this disc with extras starting with a new audio commentary featuring director Chuck Russell, SFX artist Tony Gardner and cinematographer Mark Irwin that is moderated by filmmaker Joe Lynch. Lots of talk here about what it was like on set, influences that worked their way into the picture, the production history, working with the cast and crew, locations, FX work and tons more. Interestingly enough, Lynch credits this film for inspiring him to make movies himself. He's clearly a huge fan of it and his enthusiasm in this track is palpable. A second new commentary features actress Shawnee Smith and an unnamed moderator. This track definitely has its moments but early on they struggle to find the right pace, with Smith giving a lot of very short answers to questions. This does improve as the track progresses, the two get more engaged in their talk and we learn what she thought about her co-stars, her thoughts on the picture itself, working with Russell and more.
There's also a host of new featurettes here, starting with It Fell From The Sky!, a two-part, forty-nine-minute interview with director Chuck Russell. The first part sees Russell talking about how he got into filmmaking, working with Bob Shaye, and directing the third A Nightmare On Elm Street film. The second part is more specific to The Blob and here he talks about getting along with Frank Darabont, casting the picture, the importance of the original film and more. It does cover a bit of the same ground as the commentary but there's enough exclusive info in here to definitely make it worth checking out. We Have Work To Do gets actor Jeffrey DeMunn in front of the camera for fourteen-minutes to talk about how he got his start in the industry, some of the early roles he took in his career, getting cast in The Blob and his thoughts on the film. Minding The Diner is a seventeen-minute talk with actress Candy Clark who notes that she started out doing extra work before then getting a big part in this picture, how she got along with her co-stars and how much fun she had on the shoot. In They Call Me Mellow Purple actor Donovan Leitch Jr. speaks for fifteen-minutes about his experiences on the film, horror films that he's always loved and the importance of the genre to him personally, his thoughts on the character he played in this film and more. Try To Scream! is an eighteen-minute segment with actor Bill Moseley that's definitely worth your time. He speaks about getting the role in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 before then discussing some of his other work and then, of course, the small role he played in this film. Moseley is always an engaging interview subject. Getting a bit more technical, we move on into Shot Him!, an eighteen-minute piece wherein cinematographer Mark Irwin speaks about what it was like shooting the picture in Louisiana, working with Russell and some of the work he did in the industry before working on this picture. The Incredible Melting Man interviews SFX artist Tony Gardner for twenty-two-minutes about what went into creating some of the effects work featured in the picture, how he got his start doing FX work, earlier projects he was involved with and what went into creating an animatronic blob. Monster Math interviews SFX supervisor Christopher Gilman for twenty-six-minutes where he shares some interesting stories about his family's background in racing, which led to meeting Paul Newman and then eventually how he got involved with FX work in the movies after doing wardrobe and prop work. In Haddonfield To Arborville production designer Craig Stearn speaks for twenty-one-minutes about the film about how he knew John Carpenter, which led to his working on some of his projects, before then moving on to do production work on this picture and others. The Secret Of The Ooze sees mechanical designer Mark Setrakian hold court for twenty-minute as he shares some interesting stories about his love of monster movies as a child, getting his start in the industry and the difficulties of creating a believable blob. I Want That Organism Alive! spends twelve-minutes with ‘Blob mechanic' Peter Abrahamson who also talks about loving monster movies and FX-heavy productions as a kid, leading him to get into the business as he became an adult and then, of course, discussing in a good bit of detail the work that he did on The Blob.
Lastly, in Gardner's Grue Crew we're treated to twenty-eight-minutes of behind-the-scenes footage Of Tony Gardner and his effects team on set.
Carried over from the Twilight Time release is an audio commentary featuring the film's director Chuck Russell moderated by ‘Horror Authority' Ryan Turek (of shocktillyoudrop.com). This is a solid track with Russell telling some fun stories about working with the different actors in the film, the effects that were created for the picture and how they could sometimes cause some issues on set, shooting on location in a small Louisiana town, co-writing the film and quite a bit more. Russell also spends a fair bit of time talking about the effects work on the movie and how if the movie were made today, yes, it would all be done with CGI. He shares some stories about having to use a ‘littler person stunt man' in place of a child actor, he talks about the importance of getting the movie theater scene right given its iconic status and more. Turek has an obvious appreciation for the film and he manages to keep Russell on topic and talkative throughout.
Rounding out the extras is are three-minutes' of theatrical trailers for the feature, a TV spot, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Shout! Factory has packaged this collector's edition release with a slipcover for the first pressing only as well as some nice reversible cover art.
Included on the Twilight Time release but not carried over to this Shout! Factory edition is the Friday Night Frights At The Cinefamily featurette, the isolated score and the liner note booklet.
The Blob remains one of the better horror remakes out there, it's a tense and well-made picture with some great effects and some pretty solid performances too. Shout! Factory has done a nice job bringing this one back to Blu-ray, presenting it in very nice shape and on a disc absolutely stacked with extras. Highly recommended!
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.