Scream now while you can still breathe!
Apparently enough time had passed by the time the '80s rolled around to induce cinematic nostalgia. While mega-maniacs Freddy, Jason, and Michael were busy hacking their way around movie screens, some unique filmmakers decided it was time for a resurgence of the '50s—hence, the remake of many popular horror and science fiction films from yesteryear. The first (and best, in my opinion) came in 1982 with John Carpenter's rethinking of Howard Hawk's The Thing. In 1986, director David Cronenberg revamped the Vincent Price classic The Fly into an unqualified grotesque hit. Finally came Chuck Russell's bigger and meaner remake of the Steve McQueen classic The Blob in 1988. Starring Shawnee Smith (TV's Becker, Summer School) and Kevin Dillon (uh…brother to Matt), The Blob oozes its way into your DVD player care of Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
It creeps. It oozes. It kills. It's the Blob, and it's back…big time.
After a meteorite crash lands in a small town (don't ALL horror movies start this way?), the local townsfolk find that they are under siege by one of the biggest rolling loogies known to man. Two teens, Flagg (Kevin Dillon), a motorcycle rebel, and homecoming queen Meg (Shawnee Smith), seem to be the only ones who have seen it and lived. The Blob's main purpose in life it to suck up every living thing it sees so it can grow bigger…and bigger…and meaner.
It can't be shot. It won't be burned. And like my girlfriend, it doesn't respond well to verbal warnings. If Flagg and Meg can't find a way to stop it, the whole world is going to succumb to the evil that is…THE BLOB!
I'm always game for a remake. Some people pooh-pooh the idea, grumbling that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. Personally, I think it can be fun to see what someone else's take is on an old classic. However, truth be told this hasn't always turned out well. Some remakes, such as Tim Burton's Planet Of The Apes and Gus Van Sant's Psycho, were like watching your best friend attempting to recite a funny story that happened the night before…when he was really drunk. [Editor's Note: Reviewer's negative comments about Tim Burton films do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of the Editor.] Others have fared much better—The Thing and The Fly were both well executed, thoughtful, and vastly entertaining. Almost the same can be said about The Blob remake. Almost.
The original Blob was more sci-fi than horror. It was campy and enjoyable, though lacked the real spark that other '50s creature features had. Steve McQueen made an amiable hero and the movie was goofy fun, but overall I wasn't as impressed with The Blob as I was with other horror shows, such as The Creature From The Black Lagoon or Them!. That being said, I really enjoyed the new remake of The Blob. It's not perfect, but as a horror movie, it gets the job done.
The first thing that drew me into The Blob remake was the way director Chuck Russell sets the mood. Rarely does a horror film really evoke a sense of dread or terror in its audience. I found that The Blob was able to do this quite well. Any horror film set in a small town during the autumn season (i.e., Halloween) will usually set a nice ominous tone for horrific things to come. Russell and co-writer Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) try their best to make the script rise above typical horror convention. There are genuine moments of sheer terror, though the characters often slip into obvious teen stereotypes (i.e., you get laid, you get killed). The performances range from above average (Shawnee Smith, Jeffrey DeMunn) to ho-hum (Kevin Dillon) to just plain odd (improvisational guru Del Close as a freakish minister). I can't really say that any one actor does a standout performance—when you're fellow actor is a large ball of slime it's kind of hard to steal the show. However, I can say that everyone does really well at running and fleeing for their lives. Oscars all around for everyone!
The big deal about this The Blob is, of course, the special effects. As the back of the DVD case reads: "What was once only suggested now comes to life in this visually gut-wrenching thriller!" For those fans that wanted to see what a half-digested person looked like in inside of the Blob, here's your chance. The effects by Lyle Conway are excellent (save for a few blue screen shots), and this time the Blob has a disgusting look that's part Jell-o, part human intestines, and part mucus membrane. The Blob doesn't just ooze and crawl; it crushes and slurps everything in its path. The scene in the movie theater is particularly terrifying as the Blob makes a sweep of the whole theater, devouring everyone in sight. I especially liked the script's reasoning for where the Blob came from—I won't give away the surprise, but it was definitely something that sent a chill down my spine.
The Blob is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and talk about a very unimpressive print! This transfer looks as if the Blob ran all over it before being put onto DVD. There was an excess of grain and dirt in the print, and a large lack of detail to the shapes and images. Edge enhancement was also spotted in many scenes. Colors were sometimes sharp, but often had a worn and faded look to them. This is overall a very under par transfer for an above par horror film.
Audio is presented in Dolby Surround 2.0 and ranks only slightly above the video portion of the disc. Though the dialogue, music, and effects were all mixed evenly, this is still on the low end without much fidelity. Only a slight amount of distortion was present during the film. The Blob certainly would have benefited from a new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, but with as much effort as Colombia put into the transfer I am not surprised with what we got in the audio department. Also included is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track in French, as well as subtitles in Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean.
Even more distressing is the fact that the only supplements slapped on this disc are a few measly theatrical trailers! What, like Kevin Dillon were really that busy doing other things that he couldn't have recorded a commentary track? The trailers included on this disc are for The Blob remake, John Carpenter's Vampires and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Blah.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Some of the effects in The Blob look like they came out of 1953. It was fairly obvious where the filmmakers used blue screen matte shots and where they didn't. Maybe on VHS these scenes were harder to spot, but in vivid DVD color they stick out like a sore thumb. I was also a bit impartial to some of the cheesy synthesizer music score by composer Michael Hoenig. There's only so much fright a computerized B-flat can instill in the viewer.
Even for around $19.99 The Blob a pricey title for what you're getting. I was very disappointed to see how poor the quality was on the transfer of this disc. An only mediocre audio track and hardly any supplemental features just drives home the fact that this obviously wasn't a high priority title for Columbia. The movie itself is a fun remake, and at the least I can say that this is worth your money as a rental.
Beware of the Blob!! The movie is a lot of fun, and as such is released on bail. Columbia is slapped with a fine for doing shoddy work on a title that deserves better.
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