Color, 1988, 95 mins.
Directed by Chuck Russell
Starring Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark, Joe Seneca, Del Close, Paul McCrane
Scream Factory (Blu-ray) (US RA HD), Umbrella (Blu-ray & DVD) (Australia R0 HD/PAL), Alive (Blu-ray & DVD) (Germany RB/R2 HD/PAL), Twilight Time (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

A The Blobtextbook example of how to update a The Blob'50s sci-film for an '80s audience, The Blob was part of a fascinating strain of remakes that came in the wake of Phillip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978. The most financially successful of these was David Cronenberg's The Fly, while this one disappointed at the box office like two others, John Carpenter's The Thing and Tobe Hooper's Invaders from Mars. Time has since vindicated all of these films to various degrees (though Hooper's the least, obviously), with this one gaining a lot of traction through cable TV airings and regular video availability. In retrospect it's easy to see why this one had a tough time with audiences in 1988 as it gleefully screws around with audience expectations and violates a number of rules, including a big no-no that didn't set well at all at the time. Fortunately that audaciousness has helped the film in the long run as it still delivers some big shocks and offers a major special effects sequence ever few minutes; if you're looking for a great party movie to spring on people, you've hit paydirt.

In a tranquil California town, the teens are up to their usual hijinks and looking for love. While out on a date following a football mishap, jock Paul (Leitch) and cheerleader Meg (Smith) cross paths in the woods with motorcycle-riding, mullet-sporting bad boy Brian (Dillon) when an old man turns up in the woods with a very disfigured hand caused by an aggressive mass unleashed from a crashed meteorite. At the hospital things get even worse when the doctor (Eraserhead's Jack Nance) and Paul see the patient quickly dispatched by the growing alien threat when it chomps away his entire lower half. More mayhem strikes and the blob keeps growing at an exponential rate, with a secretive military force soon The Blobinvading the town in what appears to be a mission to keep it at bay. The Blob

That plot description is deliberately vague to avoid ruining any of the major surprises in this film, and it's really best experienced with as little preparation as possible for the full effect. A lot of the pleasure here comes from watching a roster of great character actors including Candy Clark as a sweet-natured waitress, Jeffrey DeMunn as the local sheriff and her potential paramour, Joe Seneca as the head scientist in charge of the higher ups, and improv legend Del Close as the town preacher who plays a pivotal role in the finale. The film had been gestating for a while when director Chuck Russell and writer Frank Darabont met up on the set of Hell Night and ended up having a huge feature debut together with 1987's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. By the time it went before the cameras, the lack of major stars was countered by a slew of practical visual effects that still hold up today including some simple but ingenious gags that pack a big punch (particularly the sink sequence, which caused a lot of dropped jaws when it was sent out as the sample scene on Siskel & Ebert). The film isn't entirely perfect (for example, the coda doesn't entirely come off), but it gets so much very, very right that you won't care.

Columbia and eventually Sony reissued this film numerous times on VHS and then on DVD in 2001, the latter featuring no significant extras. The first stab at a special edition came in 2014 from Twilight Time as a limited edition Blu-ray featuring a Sony-provided HD scan that looked much better than the DVD, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 English (with subs) that The Blobessentially The Blobrefined the original Ultra Stereo mix, an isolated score track, and a very entertaining audio commentary with Russell and Blumhouse's Ryan Turek (back during his Shock Till You Drop days). The red and green band trailers were also included along with a Russell Q&A with Turek and Joshua Miller from a "Friday Night Frights" screening by L.A.'s now-defunct Cinefamily. A later Blu-ray from Umbrella in Australia was from the same transfer with the 5.1 mix but only had a trailer and a different 18-minute Russell interview. The German Blu-ray from Alive features no real extras apart from the U.S. and German trailers, though it does have some additional color correction and marks the first Blu-ray release with the 2.0 Ultra Stereo mix.

However, the version to beat by a very wide margin is the 2019 collector's edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory, which piles on a huge number of new extras in addition to porting over the original Russell/Turek commentary. Two new commentaries are featured, the first with Smith and Justin Beahm and the second with Russell, special effects artist Tony Gardner, and cinematographer Mark Irwin, moderated by filmmaker Joe Lynch. The Smith track is very laid back and cheerful as she essentially kicks back and gets giddy revisiting the film, including comments about many of her costars and recalling going with Leitch to the prom. She's also very appreciative to the film's fans throughout and has a lot of affection for the horror genre even if she's on hiatus now to be a full-time mom. The other track is also high energy with Lynch explaining his motivation to becoming a filmmaker being rooted in this film as he guides the participants through discussions of the sound design, the effects, and pretty much anything else you could want to know. The film itself is taken from the usual Sony scan but has been given some extra TLC with deeper blacks that give the colors some extra punch, especially during the darker scenes where the wild The Blobpinks and blues really pop. Both the DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Ultra Stereo 2.0 mixes are present here and sound great, with the latter more faithfully replicated how this sounded in the theater; optional English SDH subtitles are also provided. The Blob

As for video extras, brace yourself for no less than fourteen(!) new featurettes, kicking off with a two-part interview with Russell consisting of "It Fell from the Sky" (22m26s) and "I Killed the Strawberry" (26m32s). The new Russell commentary lets slip that this is culled from a two and a half hour session, but you get a very thorough overview here about Darabont, rights hold Jack Harris, and the road that led him there after extensive creative work for the theater and film. Luckily the actors all seem to be very proud of their work here judging by "We Have Work To Do" (14m13s) with DeMunn, "Minding The Diner" (16m40s) with Clark, "They Call Me Mellow Purple" (15m21s) with Leitch (Jr.), and "Try To Scream!" (18m38s) with cult favorite Bill Moseley, who has a small part in the film. They all go into their own backgrounds that led to acting (everywhere from Ft. Worth, Texas to Hollywood), with lots of memories of the wild effects work, the positive camaraderie among the ensemble-style casting approach, the fates of their characters, and the state of moviemaking during the Brat Pack heyday of the mid to late '80s. All of them are great to see and everyone seems very healthy, happy and still positive about their experience on this film. (It's also interesting to watch the Leitch interview as a companion piece of sorts to the one he did for Cutting Class.) On the technical side you cinematographer Mark Irwin (the go-to guy for many David Cronenberg and Wes Craven films) in "Shoot Him!" (18m10s) for a discussion of the Louisiana and California shooting, "I Want That Organism Alive!" (12m23s) with "Blob mechanic" Peter Abrahamson chatting about his days in the "Blob Shop," a "Gardner’s Grue Crew" (28m18s) batch of extensive behind-the-scenes camcorder footage showing the team slathering latex all over the place, and "The Incredible Melting Man" (22m2s) with special effects artist Tony Gardner recalling the heyday of artists working in the mid-'80s with his "night job" playing a factor in his work on this film. Then "Monster Math" (26m14s) with special effects supervisor Christopher Gilman covers his own work up the ladder via a passion for medieval armor, "Haddonfield To Arborville" (20m32s) with production designer Craig Stearns and
"The Secret Of The Ooze" (19m41s) with mechanical designer Mark Setrakian go over their own professional careers and the impact monster movies had on them and their creative process. The usual two trailers are also included along with a TV spot and a 5-minute gallery of stills and poster art.


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Reviewed on October 31, 2019.