Released by: Twilight Time
Released on: October 14th, 2014.
Director: Chuck Russell
Cast: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Candy Clark
Year: 1988 Purchase From Screen Archives
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 – 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 movie.
The Blob debuts on Blu-ray from Twilight Time 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.
Extras start off with 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.
Also found here is an eighteen minute long featurette called Friday Night Frights At The Cinefamily which is a Q&A session with Russell that took place at a screening of the movie at the Cinefamily theater in Los Angeles, also hosted by Turek joined by Joshua Miller. The enthusiastic crowd seems to really dig this as the two talk about the last time that the director say a 35mm print screened, notes the absence of CGI in the movie, the original Blob’s importance, how he used the concept of remaking The Blob to get into the film business, the risks that were taken during the making of the movie and quite a bit more. Everyone’s got a sense of humor here and it’s a lighthearted but interesting discussion that offers up some insight into the history of the picture.
Rounding out the extras on the disc are an isolated score track presented in DTS-HD, two original theatrical trailers for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Julie Kirgo’s liner notes are contained in the accompanying insert booklet (which features some great cover art) and talk about the differences between the remake and the original and make the case for the latter film’s worth. A good read as always.
The Final Word:
Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release of The Blob is a lot of fun. The movie holds up, one of those few remakes that stands strongly beside its predecessor. It’s a ridiculously entertaining film with some fun performances, great effects work and some really impressive set pieces made all the more impressive in high definition. The Blu-ray release looks and sounds great and there are some solid extra features included here as well.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!