The Blob [1988 Collector’s Edition] – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: The Blob 
Release Date: 1988
Runtime: 95 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Distributor: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Audio Formats: DTS- HD MA 5.1 & 2.0 Stereo
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: 2019 Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 10/29/19
Director: Chuck Russell
Cast: Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch Jr., Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark, Joe Seneca, Del Close, Paul McCrane, Sharon Spelman, Beau Billingslea, Art LaFleur, Ricky Paull Goldin, Michael Kenworthy, Douglas Emerson, Billy Beck
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“The Blob” was a 1988 remake of the 1958 science fiction/horror classic of the same title. This 1988 remake was directed by Chuck Russell [aka Charles Russell], best known for also directing the films “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” (1987), “The Mask” (1994), “Eraser” (1996), and “The Scorpion King” (2002). Russell adapted the previous screenplay with Frank Darabont, known for later writing and directing Stephen King adaptations like “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), “The Green Mile” (1999), and “The Mist” (2007).
The story here (in the 1988 version of The Blob) takes place in a small town, where one night out of the sky an object from space crashes down. Said object is carrying with it a microbe alien life form, that is able to solidify into one giant massive blob (hence the title) of pink goo – almost completely void of shape. It is then able to attack people and absorb them and do, well, quite frankly some pretty sick stuff to them. I mean it’s science fiction here, after all, folks, with a nice bit of horror thrown in (for good measure).
The characters here involve primarily a small group of high school students. First, you have a typical guy’s guy and a football player named “Paul Taylor” (Donovan Leitch, Jr.). Next, you have the cheerleader and potential homecoming queen beautiful young lady named “Meg Penny” (Shawnee Smith) who plays as our main character of sorts. Finally, you get this rebel without a cause biker/troublemaker named “Brian Flagg” (Kevin Dillon). Keeping order in this small town is the local Sheriff “Herb Geller” (Jeffrey DeMunn) as well as his deputy “Bill Briggs” (Paul McCrane).
This is one of the few good science fiction films with a bit of horror ever remade in the 1980s. The other examples would be “The Fly” (1986) and of course “The Thing” (1982). This is right there beside those old classic sci-fi horror films originals and remakes. It’s really creepy as all hell too. They all manage to pull that off in their remakes, these three films. It’s like they’re some all part of a trilogy of science fiction horror remakes that actually were as good as the original films. The Blob (1988) belongs right there with those classic films, in my opinion. Perhaps not as high, but still up there. It’s pure fun and an all-out creepy good film.
Movie Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
“The Blob” 1988 remake on its Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, just as it was shown theatrically. The movie was shot on 35mm film using the Moviecam Superamerica camera with spherical lenses and the Vistavision cinematography process for visual effects, according to IMDb.
I don’t usually do this but I figured why not? I found this very interesting while doing my research for the review and felt that It’s worth noting that this 1988 remake of The Blob had a very accomplished DP (director of photography) work on the cinematography, Mark Irwin. Irwin’s credits, as director of photography, include a wide variety of very well-known material over the years such as the films “Scanners” (1981), “The Dead Zone” (1983), “The Fly” (1986), “Fright Night Part 2” (1988), “RoboCop 2” (1990), “Man’s Best Friend” (1993), “Dumb and Dumber” (1994), “Scream” (1996), “There’s Something About Mary” (1998), and “Old School” (2003). One should take the time to appreciate all the work this man has done in terms of cinematography, and see how some of his earlier work translates over to high definition, here in this Blu-ray presentation of the film.
It should be noted that some of the visual effects here can look a tad bit dated while the more practical special effects look fine. There’s a solid black level here in this transfer, the color palette can be pretty vibrant at times thanks for wardrobe choices, and makes you afraid of pink and purple in the process. It’s clear that the flesh tones are accurate here. There’s very little dirt or debris left on the film print here, as it seems to be rather cleaned up or just from a good scan.
Film grain is visible all throughout but perhaps not as pronounced as I would like for it to be. It seems like it could have shown a bit more but thanks to only using 27 gigabytes (a half) of the BD-50 disc it’s on. That said, it’s kind of limited there. Regardless though, the amount of detail here overall in high definition can prove to be somewhat impressive, especially during close-ups shots. It’s really overall a solid high definition presentation for a very underrated horror remake, earning itself a 4 rating for video quality. Sure, it could perhaps look better someday if it were to receive a new scan or restoration, but for now, this is solid of enough HD presentation for everyone.
Note: this isn’t the first time that the film has been released on the Blu-ray format though, as Twilight Time originally did a limited edition run – long since OOP (out of print) – back in 2016.
Video Quality Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo. It makes sense that this would receive a Stereo mix, as it was originally in Ultra Stereo during its theatrical release.
I first opted for the 5.1 lossless mix and I’ll be discussing it first as well. I immediately noticed the rear channels getting some nice subtle use during the opening title sequence. After the titles and once the original music by Michael Hoenig intensified I noticed there was a decent amount of bass coming from the subwoofer. As the action scenes came along I started to notice more rear channel usage and the bass start to be used effectively. Dialogue is delivered via the center channel speaker and is very clear, with no volume adjustment needed.
There are some definitely eery moments throughout the film and the original music helps to build that vibe along. That along with the scares in the form of some science fiction action make for a pretty creepy good time. It’s a pretty impressive 5.1 lossless mix. Now, the Stereo mix (also included) really proves to be impressive as well – considering it was the original format the movie was in during its theatrical run. I actually ended up enjoying the Stereo (2.0) mix the most in comparison though now looking back. All and all though, both of the lossless sound mixes included here are sure to please.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release, all presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound, include the following:
- NEW Audio Commentary with Director Chuck Russell, Special Effects Artist Tony Gardner, Cinematographer Mark Irwin, and Moderated by Filmmaker Joe Lynch. This audio commentary is about as straight-forward and honest as it gets and an absolute blast to listen to from start to finish. This commentary is very, very insightful and also very comedic in nature, at times, many thanks to moderator Joe Lynch who does an amazing job here. Joe Lynch admits this film specifically made him want to become a filmmaker. New Line Cinema, where the director Chuck Russell worked on the third A Nightmare on Elm Street, actually passed on this film and it ended up being made via another studio (Tri-Star).
- NEW Audio Commentary with Actress Shawnee Smith is moderated by producer Justin Beahm (of Reverend Entertainment). For those of you who don’t know Beahm runs his own production company that is responsible for all of these new bonus materials on the new 2019 Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. Shawnee Smith gives a really excellent and informative audio commentary here as she and Beahm discuss the film scene specifically. Shawnee really is genuinely beaming with excitement here watching the film again all these years later, and it’s great for the commentary.
- Audio Commentary with Director Chuck Russell and Film Historian/Film Producer Ryan Turek
- NEW “It Fell From the Sky!” – Interview with Director Chuck Russell / Part 1 (22:26 – HD) starts out discussing how much filmmaking technique dates back to the silent film era with comedian/filmmakers like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. He goes on to discuss meeting his friend and, co-writer of the script, as well as moving to Los Angeles. He at first considered being a stuntman, then later produced the film “Hell Night” (1981) where he met production assistant Frank Darabont. He and Darabont would become collaborative partners co-writing and he would eventually achieve his dream of becoming a director with “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” (1987). He ends up telling us that he took a film intended first as horror and turned it into a comedy with “The Mask” (1994).
- NEW “I Killed the Strawberry” – Interview with Director Chuck Russell / Part 2 (26:32 – HD) this time around starts by focusing on the original 1958 version of The Blob film. Here he admits he looked at the commercial success of David Cronenberg taking the 1958 film “The Fly” and adapting it in 1986 inspired him as a filmmaker in the choice to approach this project. He then mentions bringing cinematographer Mark Irwin over from that film as well as pitching the idea for the remake. He here goes on to talk more about his friendship with Frank Darabont and co-writing this film together. There’s a very thorough discussion regarding making the film. He goes through the entire cast and really describes to us what he enjoyed about each character’s portrayal. He ends by discussing the idea of a sequel or another remake. This whole interview as both parts combined proves to be absolutely enjoyable and informative as much as any fan could ask for.
- NEW “We Have Work to Do” – Interview with Actor Jeffrey DeMunn (14:13 – HD) has the town’s Sheriff (“Herb Geller”) in the film reflecting back. Folks familiar with Frank Darabont (directed films and created TV shows) will remember him in his supporting roles in “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), “The Green Mile” (1999), “The Majestic” (2001), “The Mist” (2007), and “The Walking Dead” (2010). It’s fun to hear DeMunne also briefly discuss working with his co-star [in this film] Candy Clark.
- NEW “Minding the Diner” – Interview with Actress Candy Clark (16:40 – HD) has the town’s waitress (Fran Hewitt) at the diner in the film reflecting back. She also happened to co-star in the films “American Graffiti” (1973), “The Man Who Fell to Earth” (1976), “Q” (1982), “Cat’s Eye” (1985), and “Zodiac” (2007). Clark discusses her early childhood and becoming an actress. Her first film was with Dustin Hoffman just as an extra, and she got the acting bug and wanted to do more extra work. She ended up meeting a casting manager and she later landed roles in films like “Fat City” (1972).
- NEW “They Call Me Mellow Purple” – Interview with Actor Donovan Leitch Jr. (15:21 – HD) has the football player (“Paul Taylor”) from the film reflecting back. Fun fact, Leitch and co-star Shawnee Smith went to high school together and even actually went to prom together. Here’s an even further fun fact, his father is the pop singer known as “Donovan.” That’s why he [the actor] is Donovan Junior. He grew up in Hollywood despite being born overseas and discusses that.
- NEW “Try To Scream!” – Interview with Actor Bill Moseley (18:28 – HD) who appeared in a very small part as “soldier #2 (in sewer)” as the film credits him.
- NEW “Shoot Him!” – Interview with Cinematographer Mark Irwin (18:10 – HD) is great to see included, as I’ve mentioned how talented and accredited Irwin is in the video quality section (much, much further above) – ironically.
- NEW “I Want That Organism Alive!” – Interview with Blob Mechanic Peter Abrahamson (12:23 – HD)
- “Gardner’s Grue Crew” – Behind The Scenes on The Blob (28:18 – HD) is actually old footage shot by the special effects crew while making the film. It’s finally getting released though, so I consider it to be new to the public in that sense.
- NEW “The Incredible Melting Man” – Interview with Special Effects Artist Tony Gardner (22:02 – HD) gives you a glimpse into the mind of the man who brought most of the visual effects to come to life you saw in the 1988 film. He will get scenes specifically discussing things and deaths so I won’t go into detail here to avoid dishing out spoilers.
- NEW “Monster Math” – Interview with Special Effects Supervisor Christopher Gilman (26:14 – HD) has Gilman first discussing his childhood and how it inspired him to later go on to get into monster movies. He later followed that love and went on to work in special effects when he moved to Los Angeles. He first worked in props though and really admits that he didn’t like that so much. So, he started his own company which eventually became Global Effects. He finally discusses working on this film, mostly with props like a snow globe. Yes, that snow globe and it’s important to get something that small right which was appropriately so as he worked on something involving the end of the film.
- NEW “Haddonfield to Arborville” – Interview with Production Designer Craig Stearns (20:32 – HD) starts out with Stearns discussing how growing up in Vermont and encouragement from an English teacher helped inspire his career path at first in student filmmaking. It’s really fun to hear that he ended up working with his USC classmate John Carpenter later on some films – namely “Halloween” (1978) and “The Fog” (1980). He even worked on two Stephen King adaptations: “Children of the Corn” (1984) and “The Shining” (1997 TV mini-series) as a production designer and offers up stories from those two shows. Finally, he discusses making this film [the 1988 version of The Blob] working on location (Louisiana) with the sets and with the director (Chuck Russell). This interview is very cool in terms of being entertaining, and informative as all hell.
- NEW “The Secret of the Ooze” – Interview with Mechanical Designer Mark Setrakian (19:41 – HD) first starts out by discussing his childhood love for monster films. Setrakian goes on to discuss working at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) where he got to namely work on the film “Howard the Duck” (1986). Eventually, he comes to getting the gig of working on this 1988 remake of The Blob. This proves to be very informative and is worth giving a watch as you’ll learn how Mark actually came up with the sound for The Blob creature.
- Theatrical Trailers (2:53 – HD) are rather decent in terms of video and audio quality.
- “TV Spot” (0:32 – HD) is in pretty rough quality (from a VHS source) but it’s nice to see included.
- “Still Gallery” (5:00 – HD) plays like a slideshow. This includes mostly production photos, stills from the film, posters, other promotional materials, and a few sketches.
Overall, the bonus materials here are nothing short of downright amazing. There are well over four hours worth of just the new interviews. That’s not to mention the two new audio commentary tracks, as well as the original audio commentary. This proves to be a very thorough and perfect set of extras for a cult-classic 1980s sci-fi/horror remake. This is one of the very few occasions that I’m absolutely worn out from going over all of the bonus materials (in a very good way) and that should leave even the ultimate fan of this film busy for a good while. That said, this truly earns itself a perfect 5 rating for bonus materials. The extras here will consume you like The Blob itself, but instead, in the greatest way possible.
Bonus Materials Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“The Blob” 1988 remake was one of the three successful science fiction/horror films to be remade back in the 1980s. The other two are of course John Carpenter‘s “The Thing” (1982) and David Cronenberg‘s “The Fly” (1986). I’d rather those films in that order in terms of ratings, with this film not quite getting highly rated as them. However, I still believe the 1988 version of The Blob from Chuck Russell to be a very underrated film and remake. There are some great performances here from the leading lady Shawnee Smith and bad boy Kevin Dillion, as well as from a smaller part with a character actor like Jeffrey DeMunn – as the small town’s Sheriff.
In terms of a Blu-ray Disc, you get a solid video presentation with some film grain visibly present and such, as well as a pretty nice amount of detail all throughout. The audio side of things is actually a bit more impressive with its lossless 5.1 surround and 2.0 Stereo mixes. I think the purists will really enjoy that Stereo mix.
Now, last but far from least you have a ton of new extras on this new 2019 Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from the folks at Shout! Factory in collaboration with Reverend Entertainment. There are a total of two new audio commentary tracks, an older audio commentary track with the film’s director, and lots of new interviews that total up to well over 4 hours of materials themselves, along with older features (like an image gallery), as well as Trailers and a TV Spot. This honestly is a perfect set of extras for a catalog horror film from 1988.
This Blu-ray has enough to leave this film’s fans very informed and entertained. It almost feels like it should have been a two-disc set though, with the movie having to equally share the disc space. That’s my only complaint here and that’s all. It’s still enough for a solid video presentation.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
5 (out of 5) for bonus materials
A Solid Recommendation