The Blob (1988) Blu-ray Review

The Blob oozes pristine Blu-ray quality courtesy of Twilight Time

Note: The Blob Blu-ray is available directly from Twilight Time in a limited edition.

While the runt of the 1980s litter of ’50s remakes (creeping behind The Thing and The Fly), the inventively violent Blob remake reaches for an R-rating while maintaining the sliver of social commentary which defined the Steve McQueen-starring original. Here, lover’s lane isn’t serenaded by soft gems of early rock and roll but by crude hair bands. Leather jackets are a means of defiance, and women wear pants instead of poodle skirts.

Writer/director Chuck Russell – paired with co-writer Frank Darabont – whip up a cultural autopsy, peering into the mystique of the late ’80s with fear, but not over communism. Here it’s stunt driving teens, slasher cinema, and misshapen government technologies. A few stabs at inadequate capitalism-driven health care are thrown in too, sadly still relevant.

Bolstered by a minimal if actual budget, this is no longer a scoop of red gelatin snapping bones and melting hands over cardboard miniatures. The old timey creature feature shows off a new timey robustness with blob tentacles and flesh searing acidity adding to the shapeless being’s killing potency. Ensuing is a practical effects showcase of outlandish melting bodies and sizzling organs.

The Blob twists itself around the pillars of its fore-bearer. After all, we wouldn’t have a Blob flick without a scattering small town populace fleeing from the sticky comfort of a theater. But, there’s more. Openly promiscuous teens are brawling with parents and the unsightly space bred monster as much as they are government establishment. The town of Arborville is taken over by Hazmat suits and barely competent science fiends with the rebelliousness of teenage years finding a proper suitor.

Even outside of its social statements, The Blob is uproariously entertaining cinema. High on the escapism charts, casting pegs the town’s reckless outcast Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillion) and hyper strong feminine hero Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) as the mismatched pairing who salvage their town from devastation. Line delivery breeds self-awareness and cheeky one-liners, as if the hokey kills weren’t already doing the job. This is the film where a man is scrunched and sucked down a drain pipe. Because the Blob – that’s why.

It’s debatable if the film is smart in what it’s doing. Unlike The Fly with its rounded character dissolution, The Blob shows hardly interest in breaking through on fresh grounding. Parables seems to only exist because they were a cornerstone of the ’50s concept too. The Blob is a wily paced, creepy monster movie, but it appears proud of that with enough giddy passion and gusto to win over a template demographic audience. So few of the genre can stake such a claim.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

Isn't that the thing from the bathtub in Ghostbusters II? @ 1:12:07

Twilight Time is the Blu-ray distributor for this vintage Tri-Star project, and once out of a low bitrate cold snap during the opening credits with some heavy banding, The Blob finds a home amongst the finest ’80s film reproductions. Only Criterion would have done this well (and the did; the first Blob on Blu-ray looks outstanding). At the heart of this transfer is a perfect print without a sliver of damage or dirt, unusually pristine considering the level of effects work at play.

AVC encoding work processes a beautiful grain structure to maintain the nature of the film stock and color work is pure splendor. Lush reds, greens, and blues are highlighted vibrantly without reaching too far. Compression is never harmful even when the amidst the usual problem spots such as those vivid reds.

Image sharpness is the true HD sell, clearly coming from a high-resolution scan. Close-ups are marvelous in revealing fidelity, and even with distance the images hold their purity. All of those gruesome practical kills have never appeared with such clarity in the home. Cinematography isn’t playing tricks either. Shots are dense without filters and intense focus.

Opening moments during the day give way to an extended night, leaving pressure on black levels and contrast. There’s no loss here either. Shadows are packed in without signs of fading due to age and plentiful depth on consistent display. Fans of film of this vintage have a delight here.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Remastered into DTS-HD 5.1, most of The Blob will often remain tight to the center channel. It’s the synth and orchestrated score from Michael Hoeing which is given room to breathe. Wide stereo mixing produces instrumentation in each channel with a bright spread into the surrounds. The wrap is a complete work.

Some sound effects will creep around. During the credits, a fountain can be detected splashing water in the right front. A few rounds of gunfire and slithering ooze wander from the middle, but the effect is partial; it’s nothing like the spread from the score.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Audio commentary work brings in enthusiastic director Chuck Russell and Ryan Turek, labeled as a horror authority (and he can claim so as editor of ShockTillYouDrop). An isolated score track, forever the unfortunate outcast of bonuses, is offered along with a pre-screening interview with the aforementioned duo which runs 18-minutes. Two trailers, in fantastic quality, are the final bits of bonus material.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.