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A cult classic of gooey greatness, The Blob follows the havoc wreaked on a small town by an outer-space monster with neither soul nor vertebrae, with Steve McQueen playing the rebel teen who tries to warn the residents about the jellylike invader.
For more about The Blob and The Blob Blu-ray release, see The Blob Blu-ray Review
Starring: Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe, Olin Howland, Stephen Chase
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.
» See full cast & crew
The Blob Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 5, 2013
Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.'s "The Blob" (1958) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; massive collection of stills, posters, behind-the-scenes photographs, publicity materials and special effects props gathered by movie memorabilia collector Wes Swank; audio commentary by director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. and actor Robert Fields; and another audio commentary by producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder. Also included with this release is an essay by critic Kim Newman. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
A meteor carrying a visitor from another galaxy crashes in a small American town. A curious elderly man (Olin Howland, Them!) approaches what is left of it and discovers the visitor, at first looking a lot like a big blob of strawberry jelly. The man is immediately turned off by it, and the blob is immediately irritated by the curious man, which is why it proceeds to consume his hand. The man panics and runs off into the road, where Steve (Steve McQueen, Papillon) and Jane (Aneta Corsaut, The Toolbox Murders), two teenagers madly in love with each other, nearly kill him with their car. Steve helps the man get in the car and then rushes him off to the office of Dr. T. Hallen (Stephen Chase, When Worlds Collide).
Convinced that there is nothing to worry about, Dr. Hallen attempts to treat the man's hand, but the blob becomes aggressive and quickly consumes him and his nurse. Then it quietly disappears into the night.
Meanwhile, Steve and Jane return to their friends and get involved in a not so smart racing game that seriously annoys Lieutenant Dave (Earl Rove). After he lectures them and lets them go, everyone heads back to the place where the meteor crashed. Already beginning to realize that things might be a lot more serious than they seem, Steve decides that it is time to alert the town that an alien monster is on the loose. But the cops and everyone else who has some authority thinks that the kids are trying to pull a crazy prank on them.
The charm of this cult film directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., which effectively launched McQueen's career, comes from its genuine desire to impress in its own way. On one hand, it is sort of a political allegory -- there is a big red monster quietly destroying America in the year 1958, but no one wants to believe it exists. Senator Joseph McCarthy did, but he was convinced that the red monster had entered America quite a few years earlier. On the other hand, this is a film that desperately wants to appeal to teenagers -- it immediately sides with them and goes on to make a point that their parents should listen to them. On top of all this, the film also repeatedly pokes fun of itself, which makes it incredibly easy to enjoy.
But there are certain errors that are hard to ignore. For example, some of the teenagers do not look like teenagers at all, while some of their supposedly a lot more experienced parents are so naive that at one point their questions become unbearable. Then there is also the bad blob, which despite all the warnings in the film's original trailer isn't bad at all.
The atmosphere, however, is great. Boldly introduced by Burt Bacharach's now legendary song, the campy feeling is on right from the get-go. The film also looks quite incredible. Shot in beautiful Technicolor, primarily on locations in Pennsylvania, large portions of The Blob at times overwhelm the eyes with their bright and vivid colors. So, while not a perfect film, The Blob is probably one of the very best looking low-budget films of its kind.
The Blob was remade in 1988, using the original story by Irvine H. Millgate. The script for the remake was written by Chuck Russell, who also directed it, and Frank Darabont, who is arguably best known for his brilliant adaptations of Steven King's dramas The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. The remake stars Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Kevin Dillon, and Jeffrey DeMunn.
The Blob Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.67:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.'s The Blob arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the leaflet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"This new digital transfer was created on in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the original 35mm camera negative; reel five, however, had to be scanned from a 35mm interpositive, due to the poor condition of that portion of the negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Transfer supervisor: Maria Palazzola.
Colorist: Sheri Eisenberg/Colorworks, Culver City, CA."
I don't currently have this film on DVD in my library and can't offer any specific comments on how substantial the improvements in image quality are, but I would say that the new digital restoration has produced some marvelous results. The film looks so vibrant and lush now that it is hard to believe that a DVD release could come even remotely close to reproducing the depth and fluidity of the new restoration. The wide range of rich colors is also quite remarkable. (I took a number of different screencaptures, including some excellent close-ups, so that you could get an idea how good this low-budget Technicolor film looks now on Blu-ray). Clarity is also excellent, including during sequences where light is obviously restricted, such as the basement sequence where Steve discovers how to fend off the blob. There are absolutely no traces of problematic degraining and sharpening corrections. There are no stability issues to report. Also, scratches, debris and cuts have been carefully removed. Compression is also very good. All in all, I feel confident stating that this is indeed the kind of definitive presentation fans of The Blob have been hoping to get from Criterion. The film really does look terrific. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Blob Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Depth and clarity are excellent, and there is even a surprisingly good range of nuanced dynamics. Burt Bacharach's legendary song, in particular, sounds great. The dialog is always crisp, stable, and easy to follow. It is obvious to me that hiss, clicks, and thumps have been been carefully removed as well.
The Blob Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blob Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Blob is one of those perfect to see very late at night drive-in shlockers that people of all generations will still want to see years from now. It isn't a flawless film but it has a tremendous atmosphere, in my opinion one that is impossible not to admire. Criterion's new digital restoration has also given The Blob a new life. This has to be one of the very best looking low-budget Technicolor films. RECOMMENDED.
The Blob Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: March 12-19 - March 9, 2013
For the week of March 12th, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is bringing Life of Pi to Blu-ray. Director Ang Lee took on a formidable task when he elected to adapt Yann Martel's novel of the same name to the big screen. The book, while nominally a fantasy-adventure, ...
• Criterion Announces March Titles - December 17, 2012
The Criterion Collection has announced six titles for Blu-ray release in March. On March 12th, the studio will release Ministry of Fear (Fritz Lang, 1944) and The Blob (Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., 1958). A week later, it will release Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973) ...
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