Wednesday, October 23, 2019

THE BLOB (1988) Blu-ray Review

Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 21
Total First Time Views: 9
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,737.96

The Blob (1988) d. Chuck Russell (USA) (95 min) (3rd viewing)

Small-town America comes under attack when a mysterious meteorite crashes outside Arborville city limits, unleashing an all-consuming gelatinous mass that devours any living creature it comes in contact with while growing at an exponential rate. Among the residents in its ravenous path are football hero Paul (Donovan Leitch), cheerleader Meg (Shawnee Smith), motorcycle-riding tough Brian (Kevin Dillon), stern-but-fair sheriff Herb Geller (Jeffrey DeMunn), and everyone’s favorite diner waitress Fran (Candy Clark). Without shape or remorse, the monstrous menace appears unstoppable, and the government troops sent in to protect seem more concerned with corralling and hushing up a very dangerous secret than with protecting the local citizens.

When the subject of sci-fi and/or horror remakes arises, as it is often wont to do in these creatively bankrupt times, there are always a few quick exceptions cited to soothe the raging mob: Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), and David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). Chuck Russell’s reimagining of another classic monster movie, however, rarely enjoys the same critical or popular respect as its cinematic brethren, despite its groundbreaking practical special effects, empathetic characterizations, compact and energetic screenplay, spirited direction, and talented ensemble of players.

While displaying the same simplistic plotting and charm as the 1958 original, Russell and co-screenwriter Frank Darabont deliver warmer, more relatable characters – none of whom are safe from the oopy goopy rolling terror moving among them with insatiable impunity – and a more sinister backstory of the creature’s origins that shows us once again the scariest monster in the universe is the one staring back at us in the mirror or across the dinner table.

We experience genuine emotional loss as our heroes are messily digested before our eyes (the phone booth scene is particularly heartbreaking), courtesy of Tony Gardner’s gruesome makeup mayhem, and a legitimate “How’d they do that?” sense of wonder watching the Blob effects designed by Lyle Conway and executed by a crack team that included Christopher Gilman, Mark Setrakian, and Philip Bartko, among others.

Russell met Darabont while the two were working in separate capacities on the 1981 film Hell Night; they soon hit it off and knocked out the script for The Blob, inspired by Cronenberg’s critical and commercial success. While shopping the project to New Line Cinema, with the intent of it being Russell’s directorial debut, Robert Shaye instead offered Russell the big chair for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (for which Darabont and Russell subsequently delivered that script). When the film turned out to be a huge financial hit, Russell was given the green light by Tri-Star to bring his Blob-ular vision to the big screen.

The cast is comprised of familiar faces to genre fans, with Shawnee Smith joining the Saw franchise in 2004, Leitch starring opposite a young Brad Pitt in the 1989 slasher Cutting Class, DeMunn showing up in The Hitcher, The Mist, and all the way back to 1980’s Christmas Evil, Clark’s winning turn in Larry Cohen’s Q: The Winged Serpent and the less-winning Amityville 3D, and Paul “the melting guy from Robocop” McCrane as DeMunn’s hapless deputy. Even Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, Devil’s Rejects) has a brief appearance as one of the more panicky Hazmat-suited soldiers.

As far as pure enjoyment goes, this makes for a dandy double feature with the 1958 original, being different enough to be a complementary experience, and Shout! Factory has delivered a fan’s dream with their recent Blu-ray release, featuring over FOUR HOURS of interviews and THREE AUDIO COMMENTARY TRACKS. (All special features are produced with quality and care by Justin Beahm’s Reverend Entertainment, although Joel Robinson’s newly commissioned cover art work leaves a bit to be desired, especially when the original poster images were much more memorable.)


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

Archival audio commentary with director Chuck Russell, moderated by film producer Ryan Turek

NEW “It Fell From The Sky!” with director Chuck Russell (22 min)

NEW “I Killed the Strawberry Jam” with director Chuck Russell (27 min)

NEW “We Have Work To Do” with actor Jeffrey DeMunn (14 min)

NEW “Minding The Diner” with actress Candy Clark (17 min)

NEW “They Call Me Mellow Purple” with actor Donovan Leitch Jr. (15 min)

NEW “Try To Scream!” with actor Bill Moseley (19 min)

NEW “Shoot Him!” with cinematographer Mark Irwin (18 min)

NEW “The Incredible Melting Man” with special effects artist Tony Gardner (22 min)

NEW “Monster Math” with special effects supervisor Christopher Gilman (26 min)

NEW “Haddonfield To Arborville” with production designer Craig Stearns (21 min)

NEW “The Secret Of The Ooze” with mechanical designer Mark Setrakian (20 min)

NEW “I Want That Organism Alive!” with Blob mechanic Peter Abrahamson (12 min)

NEW “Gardner’s Grue Crew” (behind-the-scenes footage of Tony Gardner and his team) (28 min)

Theatrical Trailers

TV Spot

Still Gallery

The Blob will be available Oct 29 on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be pre-ordered HERE:


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