Release Date(s)1988 (October 29, 2019)
Studio(s)TriStar Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A-
When it comes to the horror remakes of the 1980s, the same three or four titles usually get bandied about: David Cronenberg’s The Fly, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Paul Schrader’s Cat People, and usually the last title to come up, Chuck Russell’s The Blob. Although the film didn’t perform that well at the box office, it was in heavy rotation on cable, and also became a video store staple, thanks mainly to its incredible visual effects—as well as Kevin Dillon’s hair.
In the small town of Arborville, where the teenagers play football and attempt to score in between games, a meteorite crashes containing a pink alien ooze that dissolves anybody that it comes into contact with. A motorcycle-riding loner named Brian (Kevin Dillon) and a spunky cheerleader named Meg (Shawnee Smith) attempt to convince the local sheriff (Jeffrey Demunn) about the ever-expanding deadly substance, but to no avail. As it continues to swallow up townspeople, a military operation with a hidden agenda shows up in an attempt to contain and capture it, leaving it up to Brian and Meg to try and find a way to kill it before it absorbs them all. Also in the cast are Donovan Leitch, Jr., Candy Clark, Jack Nance, and Bill Moseley.
Before The Blob, Chuck Russell cut his teeth as an executive producer on films like Hell Night and The Seduction, occasionally working with his writing partner, Frank Darabont. The two combined their efforts for A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors, which was Russell’s debut as a director, as well as a huge hit. Russell had been working on The Blob prior to taking on the Elm Street sequel, but once it was a success, Russell had enough clout to get The Blob made. The film’s amazing use of practical special effects, courtesy of makeup effects maestro Tony Gardner, gave it its signature personality, as well as legendary status within the genre community. Though longtime fans have sang its praises for decades, it didn’t garner much financial success, eventually becoming a cult favorite.
Scream Factory brings The Blob to Blu-ray for a second time in the U.S. (previously released by Umbrella Entertainment in Australia and Al!ve in Germany) utilizing the same HD master as the Twilight Time release, which has long been out of print. It’s a solid presentation with healthy grain levels and plenty of fine detail. Clarity is such that the effects don’t hold up quite as well as they used to, particularly when it comes to matte lines. Colors are varied and potent, including all of the hues of the opening football game, as well as those found throughout the streets of the Arborville. Flesh tones also appear natural. Black levels are much deeper with better contrast, though mild crush is apparent. The previous Twilight Time release was brighter by comparison, but the images here appear more refined. It’s also a clean and stable presentation with no noticeable artifacts or damage leftover, as well as a high encode. In other words, a mild improvement.
The audio is presented in both English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The 5.1 track offers a decent surround experience. The score is really widened out, though sound effects don’t always have the extra push and mainly sit up the front. Occasional ambience and panning does occur, but certainly not enough. The 2.0 stereo track (which was not available on the Twilight Time release) is practically identical, but lacking the extra speaker space. On both tracks, dialogue is clear and precise and there are no issues with dropouts or distortion.
This release is also packed wish bonus materials, including a new audio commentary with cinematographer Mark Irwin, special effects artist Tony Gardener, co-writer/director Chuck Russell, and moderator/filmmaker Joe Lynch; another new audio commentary with actress Shawnee Smith and moderator Justin Beahm; and an older audio commentary with Chuck Russell and film historian/film producer Ryan Turek. There’s also a series of new interviews with various cast and crew members, as well as behind-the-scenes footage:
- It Fell from the Sky!: Chuck Russell on the Road to The Blob (HD – 22:26)
- I Killed the Strawberry Jam: Chuck Russell on Shooting The Blob (HD – 26:32)
- We Have Work to Do: Jeffrey Demunn on The Blob (HD – 14:13)
- Minding the Diner: Candy Clark on The Blob (HD – 16:40)
- They Call Me Mellow Purple: Donovan Leitch, Jr. on The Blob (HD – 15:21)
- Try to Scream!: Bill Moseley on The Blob (HD – 18:38)
- Shoot Him! That’s a Direct Order: Cinematographer Mark Irwin on The Blob (HD – 18:10)
- I Want That Organism Alive! A Chat with Blob Mechanic Peter Abrahamson (HD – 12:23)
- Gardner’s Grue Crew: Behind the Scenes on The Blob (SD – 28:18)
- The Incredible Melting Man: Tony Gardner on The Blob (HD – 22:02)
- Monster Math: Effects Supervisor Christopher Gilman on The Blob (HD – 26:14)
- Haddonfield to Arborville: Production Designer Craig Stearns on The Blob (HD – 20:32)
- The Secret of the Ooze: Mechanical Designer Mark Setrakian on The Blob (HD – 19:41)
Also included are 2 theatrical trailers; a TV spot; and an animated still gallery featuring 65 images of promotional stills, posters, newspaper clippings, and lobby cards. The new material was produced by Reverend Entertainment and all of it is well worth checking out.
In addition to The Blob, Chuck Russell also talks about working with Frank Darabont and his experiences making Nightmare 3. The other interviews dive deep into each individual’s background and their work on the film. The behind-the-scenes footage is silent and consists of the effects crew working on the makeup effects for the film. It’s also worth noting that this release is missing a couple of previous extras, including the isolated score track and the Cinefamily Q&A with Chuck Russell, Ryan Turek, and Joshua Miller from the Twilight Time release; the additional interview with Chuck Russell from the Umbrella Entertainment release; and the German VHS trailer from the Al!ve release. However, the breadth of the bonus material on the Scream Factory edition more than makes up for the minor losses.
In summation, Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of The Blob is the best one to date. The transfer is marginally improved but the bulk of the extras, plus a high encode for the main feature, make it a worthy upgrade. Highly recommended!
– Tim Salmons