Blu-ray Review: The Blob (1988) - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Arriving 30 years after the original, Chuck Russell’s remake of The Blob landed with a dull thud upon its late-summer 1988 theatrical release. Home video and cable TV showings earned it a cult following. Your excitement level for its recent Blu-ray debut, courtesy of boutique label Twilight Time, will depend largely upon whether or not you’re already part of said cult. The movie itself isn’t likely to win any new converts. That said it’s a generally entertaining monster movie, workmanlike in every aspect. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the benefit of featuring a Hollywood icon like Steve McQueen. Instead we get a serviceable turn by Kevin Dillon as motorcycle-riding rebel Brian Flagg, the man (as it turns out) best-suited to take on a shape-shifting, human-devouring blob of pink gelatinous material.

Nostalgia is a powerful force, so it’s natural that anyone who grew up with a special place in their heart for this slice of cheese will be happy to add it to their collection. Anticipating the same sort of response that has greeted their other horror releases of this period (i.e. John Carpenter’s Christine, Tom Savini’s Night of the Living Dead), Twilight Time has expanded its traditional 3,000-copy production run to 5,000 (with a one-copy-per-customer limit; visit Screen Archives before supplies are exhausted). Good news for fans: the high definition transfer (framed at 1.85:1) is terrific. Struck from a very clean source, The Blob is a visual treat. Never before has the pink goo looked so disgustingly vivid. It retains the grainy, slightly soft look it has always exhibited (which is a good thing), only with notably more clarity.

Blog cover (214x280).jpgAs for the movie, again, it’s a harmless bit of relatively inventive fun. The deadly mystery organism appears to arrive via meteorite, crashing in a retro-looking California suburb. It makes short work of a local tramp, but not before high school students Brian (Dillon), Meg (Shawnee Smith), and Paul (Donovan Leitch) valiantly attempt to save him. While Paul meets a quick end, Brian and Meg—polar opposites who don’t normally socialize (Brian is the moody rebel, Meg is the bubbly cheerleader)—must team up to save the town. Sherriff Geller (Jeffrey DeMunn) has it out for troublemaker Brian, making assumptions that he must’ve been involved in the recent deaths, but soon it becomes clear there are far more insidious forces hindering the battle against the blob.

Blob shawnee smith (380x209).jpgThe government conspiracy themes of The Blob add a touch of thoughtful depth without really being too surprising or original. Both Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith are likable without standing out. In general, the supporting cast pretty much defines “good enough” for this material, with Paul McCrane easily stealing his scenes as Deputy Briggs. The screenplay, co-written by director Russell and Frank Darabont, contains a few nice payoff moments. When Meg’s younger brother Kevin (Michael Kenworthy) struggles with a stubborn jacket zipper early on, you can be sure it will come into play later on. Tony Gardner’s analog special effects were quite sickly satisfying in ‘88 and hold up reasonably well more than a quarter century later. They’re more cartoonish than gory, with the blob generally dissolving human bodies in a bloodless fashion.

Blob paul mccrane (380x210).jpgIn addition to its rock solid transfer, Twilight Time’s Blu-ray offers an excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless mix. The heaviest action scenes provide lots of well-utilized, natural opportunities for surround effects. Michael Hoenig’s score is available as an isolated track. Additional special features include a commentary track featuring director Russell with “horror authority” Ryan Turek. Lots of good anecdotes are relayed, with Russell still exhibiting obvious pride in his work. Russell also turns up in the included “Friday Night Frights at The Cinefamily,” a Q&A that followed a 35mm screening of The Blob. There are also red- and green-band trailers.

The Blob is destined to join the ranks of Twilight Time’s sold-out titles, so don’t delay if you have a penchant for this particular ‘80s horror chestnut.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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