[NOW ON BLU-RAY] THE BLOB (1988)

 

 

Ah, THE BLOB. A film that harkens back to that magical time in horror history when films were remade because someone had a good idea and a good approach, instead of saying, “Well, it’s been five years. Let’s remake it again.”

Long a childhood favorite of mine, for not only terrifying me to death and keeping me away from all kinds of drains for days, but also for introducing me to my first-ever horror crush, Shawnee Smith, THE BLOB works as well now as it did then. Normally the things that would hold back a lesser picture, including the dated (but still perfectly acceptable) special effects and the hilarious fashions, THE BLOB has always been good enough to surpass those shortcomings caused by the passing of time and still present a fun, nasty, gooey, and ultimately harmless good time.

You all know this one: a meteor carrying a strange Jell-o substance from space (or was it?) crash lands on Planet Earth and begins gooing up its inhabitants. Only one man it seems can stop them, even though dozens try. That man is the hilariously-haired Kevin Dillon and the still-adorable Shawnee Smith (call me!).

Because of the time in which it was made, THE BLOB relies solely on practical and in-camera effects, only resorting to opticals for a couple scenes. (They’ve been trying to get a new version of THE BLOB off the ground for years, and once it arrives, I can only imagine the absurd amount of CGI that will be sliming across silver screens everywhere.) To tell someone who’s never seen it that a space-foreign (or is it???) slime begins to suck people into itself, where it strips flesh from their bones and causes the blob to increase in size and oh by the way it’s actually scary at times — the end of that conversation doesn’t bode well. Because of its concept, and because it’s an ‘80s flick, it’s easy to think that THE BLOB is a light, silly, and inconsequential good time, but it actually has a lot in common with John Carpenter’s THE THING, in that it goes for the throat in unexpected ways and highlights some pretty grisly practical effects. THE BLOB not only manages to work just with its concept, but in spite of it; it also has no qualms in breaking some serious horror-film taboos. It eats a kid! A kid! Take that, kid!

 

 

A wonderful cast of character actors fill the background, including a regular of Frank Darabont (co-writer on THE BLOB) named Jeffrey DeMunn, who appeared in both THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION as the lawyer who sends Andy Dufresne to his fate, and one of the guards in THE GREEN MILE. Oh, he also played Dale in THE WALKING DEAD. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. And perhaps you knew he’d been acting for thirty years before he played a filthy man in a bucket hat for which he’ll now always be known (on Twitter). (Bitter hipster fan-boy rant over.)

THE BLOB looks fantastic on this newest Blu-ray edition from Shout! Factory. Right from the beginning, the opening credits on screen look brand new. Colors are bright, blacks contain the requisite amount of grain, though not overwhelming. Other reviewers have noticed a softness in some background shots, but once the opening credits are done, that seems to subside (at least to me). No complaints here with the audio presentation. Dialogue is crisp and clear, the score by Hoenig sounds great, and the screams of the dying sound like they were recorded yesterday. Look out, goo is coming!

THE BLOB offers a new audio commentary with director Chuck Russell, special effects artist Tony Gardner, and cinematographer Mark Irwin, moderated by filmmaker Joe Lynch. If you’ve heard a Lynch guest commentary, his full fanboy comes out, and this is no different. The track touches on the normal aspects of production, with a heavy emphasis on visual effects. The second archive  commentary with director Chuck Russell, moderated by producer Ryan Turek, is exhaustive — not one single second of silence — but the conversation is interesting, and the former drops some interesting tidbits, which includes who was almost cast in Kevin Dillon’s role, as well as Dillon’s awesome rock-n-roll hair. I found it extremely fascinating to hear Russell discuss how he’d been seeking THE BLOB remake originally with New Line Cinema, and though they were interested, they had another project for which they felt he was well-suited: NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3, which is still considered the best sequel in the NIGHTMARE franchise, even besting Craven’s own return with NEW NIGHTMARE. In his commentary, he offers up a valuable piece of advice to wannabe-filmmakers: don’t go into a meeting pitching only one project, because ultimately you’re going to be pitching yourself.

 

 

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • NEW audio commentary with director Chuck Russell, special effects artist Tony Gardner and cinematographer Mark Irwin, moderated by filmmaker Joe Lynch
  • NEW audio commentary with actress Shawnee Smith
  • NEW It Fell From the Sky! – an interview with director Chuck Russell
  • NEW We Have Work to Do – an interview with actor Jeffrey DeMunn
  • NEW Minding the Dinner – an interview with actress Candy Clark
  • NEW They Call Me Mellow Purple – an interview with actor Donovan Leitch Jr.
  • NEW Try to Scream! – an interview with actor Bill Moseley
  • NEW Shot Him! – an interview with cinematographer Mark Irwin
  • NEW The Incredible Melting Man – an interview with special effects artist Tony Gardner
  • NEW Monster Math – an interview with special effects supervisor Christopher Gilman
  • NEW Haddonfield to Arborville – an interview with production designer Craig Stearns
  • NEW The Secret of the Ooze – an interview with mechanical designer Mark Setrakian
  • NEW I Want that Organism Alive! – an interview with Blob mechanic Peter Abrahamson
  • NEW Gardner’s Grue Crew – behind-the-scenes footage of Tony Gardner and his team
  • Audio Commentary with director Chuck Russell, moderated by film producer Ryan Turek
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spot
  • Still Gallery

 

 

THE BLOB is a classic. It’s rare to say that a remake of something is a classic, and also bests the original. But this edition of THE BLOB is, and has. The new release from Shout! Factory is a fantastic edition to their catalog and your collection.

 

 

J. Tonzelli

J. Tonzelli

J. Tonzelli is a novelist, storyist, film critiquer, and avid Arnold/Van Damme/Bronson enthusiast who currently resides in rural South Jersey. He likes goats, Halloween, abandoned buildings, the supernatural, and films by John Carpenter. You can read some of his short fiction at his website or objectify him by staring at his tweets. He apologizes for all the profanity.
J. Tonzelli

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