Starring Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn
Directed by Chuck Russell
Distributed by Scream Factory
When talk turns to the subject of remakes that got it right, my top three responses are always the same: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986) and Chuck Russell’s The Blob (1988). Of those three, Russell’s film is the only one that could be called underrated – even with a growing legion of horror fans singing its praises. Featuring a screenplay by Russell and Frank Darabont, the nuts & bolts of the story are the same as the original 1958 classic but what elevates this revision are a constant air of danger – nearly every character is fair game to die, as we learn during one of the film’s best moments – and the incredible practical FX work, here courtesy of Tony Gardner and his team. The Blob isn’t just one of the best horror remakes out there; it’s one of the best from that hot-again era, the ‘80s.
The small town of Arborville, CA gets a twilight visitor in the form of a meteorite containing gelatinous ooze, one which rapidly attaches itself to the hand of a transient who first appears on the scene. The terrified man stumbles out of the woods onto the road and is nearly hit by a car containing Paul (Donovan Leitch), his date, Meg (Shawnee Smith), and their unexpected third-wheel passenger, Brian (Kevin Dillon). Seeing the old guy could use medical attention they rush him to the local hospital… where that once-small glob of ooze consumes the man’s body and grows exponentially, swallowing up anyone in its path. The blob ravages across town, absorbing citizens and using their dissolved remains to bolster its expanding mass. Government agents arrive and assure everyone they are here to help… but that often means the exact opposite in this kind of movie.
A remake should elevate the source material from which it is derived. Sounds obvious, but dozens of awful remakes continue to prove it isn’t such a simple task. Russell’s film succeeds firstly by making the eponymous antagonist so damn scary. Once this blob starts to grow there is nothing capable of stopping it – what’s someone gonna do, shoot it? Burn it? Hit it with a train? It’s an amorphous slime that can squeeze into any cavity and survive if even a single shred of it remains, not unlike the main monster in Carpenter’s The Thing. And it moves fast as a sonofabitch, too. Gardner and his team ensure viewers know the dangers go beyond simply being absorbed into the blob as though it were a big Jell-O mold; this sucker is toxic and contact can be akin to sticking your hand in a vat of acid. Many townsfolk are dissolved into a chunky puddle of goo before the credits roll. Garner’s FX are slimy and savage, with a personal standout being the Lover’s Lane boob grab, where a young creep gets much more than the handful he expected.
Casting is generally strong, too. Paul is the quintessential all-American high school football star, the kind of guy designed to be a leading man. Those expectations are melted away in short time, placing the spotlight on Dillon’s character, a man with… unconventional looks, a leather jacket, a bad attitude, and – wouldn’t you know it? – a heart buried deep down in there. What makes Shawnee Smith’s Meg a good match for Brian is that they aren’t a match; the two spend plenty of time quarreling but both are all business when it comes time to strategize. They’re high school students given a few complexities and I enjoyed how the relationship grows over the course of the night. They have to work together or die; it’s that simple. A few notable faces pop up in the supporting cast, including Jack Nance as a doctor and Bill Moseley as a government lackey. Of course, my favorite will always be Art LaFleur for delivering the film’s best line: “Ribbed”.
It would seem Scream Factory has used the same master supplied to both Twilight Time and Umbrella (in Australia) for their respective releases, and with no verbiage touting a new transfer or remaster that’s the most likely conclusion. This is not a bad thing; the 1.85:1 1080p image presented here looks excellent. Color saturation is strong, especially the range of red/pink/purple hues emanating from the titular mass. Russell provides blue lighting in a number of scenes – in particular, those in the woods – and the film gains an otherworldly quality because of it. Detailing takes a bit of a hit during nighttime when the image can get lost in darkness, but that’s a sporadic issue. This is a handsome transfer overall.
An English DTS-HD MA track is available in both 2.0 and 5.1 flavors, the latter of which adds a nice air of enveloping atmosphere as the blob oozes its way across town. Dialogue enjoys solid prioritization, with no instances of hissing or pops detected. Michael Hoenig’s score is excellent and it sounds exquisite in lossless audio, especially the final, triumphant cue “Snowfall”, which is my favorite track. Subtitles are available in English.
- 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
- Optional English subtitles for the main feature
This has been a favorite of mine since its many scenes of horror were seared into my mind at a young age and I am very pleased to say this latest edition from Scream Factory not only provides the best a/v quality out there but also a wealth of bonus features that dive deep into this deserved cult classic.