Blob, The (1988)

Discussion in 'High Def' started by Dave, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. Dave

    Dave Pimp

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: Dave
    Review Date: October 21, 2014

    Released by: Twilight Time
    Release date: 10/14/2014
    MSRP: $29.95
    Region 0
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
    1988



    Does the recent glut of remakes, including conversions from Japanese to American such as Ring and The Grudge, show that Hollywood is out of ideas? Or is it a way to bring some of our old, favorite movies to a new, younger audience with updated special effects and, hopefully, a new spin on the story? Perhaps it's a little of both. A dozen years ago I was in the anti-remake camp. But when I thought about it, some of my favorite movies were remakes. John Carpenter's The Thing or Tom Savini's Night of the Living Dead are two of the best examples I can give. While some may argue The Thing is a quasi-sequel of sorts, there's no arguing that Night of the Living Dead is a straight up remake. Or how about Cronenberg's The Fly? It was the Dawn of the Dead remake that sealed the deal for me and my liking of modern remakes. I had to admit that I do like some remakes. I like remakes that give the story a different spin and updated effects that don't overdue or even minimize the use of CGI. My examples do just that. They are different takes with either a vastly different story or change up the characters enough to give it a new spin. What I dislike is shot-for-shot remakes like the Psycho (1998) remake. I see absolutely no point in that, especially with a movie with so few effects. Regardless of what we want, it seems remakes and reboots are here to stay and the time span between the original and the remake is decreasing at a rapid pace. Whether you like or dislike them, the good news is we can still vote with our wallets. If you don't like them, don't see them. It's that simple. The original will remain unchanged (Lucas excluded).

    Perhaps a bigger argument than remakes itself, at least among the home theater crowd, is Twilight Time and their business model of releasing only 3,000 units of each bluray they produce. Worse yet, they often charge $29.95 with limited extras recycled from previous DVD releases, or often times no extras at all. Regarding the price, I have no issues whatsoever. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I come from the end of the laserdisc era where the average release was $40-$50 for a bare bones movie. Towards the very end of laserdisc we got a handful of $30 releases but that was mostly to try and get to the minimum preorder requirement due to people switching over to DVD. Bluray sells more than laserdisc, and, more importantly, it's cheaper to produce a bluray, but we are talking about 3,000 units here. Most Twilight Time titles don't sell out. Their horror titles do because we horror fans like our high definition. And now that they sell out, you have to factor eBay scalpers into the mix. Bluray may not be so much a niche right now, but I think with the advent of 4K Bluray and many not minding online streaming, I think that is where it's headed. If so, prices are likely to rise. I'm a free market kind of guy so I go back to my same argument: Vote with your wallet. Thankfully with The Blob, Twilight Time negotiated a 5,000 disc release with Sony's Columbia Tri-Star. They seemed to have found the magic number, as The Blob is their first horror title not to sell out prior to release. When they dropped below 1,000 units, customers were restricted to a limit of one copy per customer. Recently I read they were below 600 pieces. That was over a week ago. If you are on the fence about it, order it now. Clearly with the extra copies this won't command the crazy eBay prices that Fright Night did. But why support scalpers if you don't have to? On top of producing more copies, Twilight Time has produced some of their own extras for this bluray. A welcome addition and it certainly helps ease the pain of a higher priced release.

    Back in 1988, director Charles Russell, fresh off Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, tackled the remake of the 1958 feature, The Blob. It stars a young Shawnee Smith, who would later hit cult status in the Saw franchise, and Kevin Dillon. Is this one of the enjoyable, smart remakes or a failed attempt at cashing in on the success of the original? Lets have a look and find out.

    The Story

    inline Image When a meteor crashes in the town of Arvorville, a homeless man is the first to see it. Inside the meteor is a jelly like substance that attached itself to his hand. Local bad boy Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillion) is the first to find the homeless man as he tries to chop the blob off of his hand. The homeless man flees and Flagg chases after him. The two stumble out onto the street and the homeless man is hit by a car. Inside the car is Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) and Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch). The couple were on their first date but now have to load up the homeless and Flagg to get some medical attention. At the hospital, when a doctor finally appears to look at the homeless man, half of his body has been devoured by the blob. Paul is the first to find the blob slinking about on its own. The results aren't pretty.

    inline Image Meg tracks down Flagg in an effort to find out exactly what's going on. He's not too interested in helping but she manages to persuade him. Before they can even devise a plan, the blob shows up in the kitchen and sucks an employee down a drain pipe. The blob then pursues them but retreats after they take refuge in the freezer. The two manage to escape from the diner. The blob continues munching on people around town, all the while growing in size.

    Meg and Flagg stumble upon a crew of government personal in hazmat suits. Dr. Meddows (Joe Seneca) is in charge of the group. He explains the blob as a 'troublesome souvenir from space' that he has been expecting his entire life. As if often the case, Meddows has ulterior motives. Flag overhears the doctor discussing his plans to weaponize the blob. With the blob continuing to grow in size, Meg and Flag have both the government and a massive blob trying to kill them. The two are on their own and must find a way to destroy the blob and save whats left of their town.

    Director Chuck Russell co-wrote the screenplay for the remake with Frank Darabont (Walking Dead, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile). They do an admirable job keeping many aspects of the original but changing it enough to make things fresh and new. The communist subtext seemingly present in the original shifts to that of government mistrust in the remake. Dillion plays the 'trust no one', rebellious teen and Joe Seneca is perfect as the evil government scientist. Lets not forget the beautiful Shawnee Smith as the damsel in distress who is grows into a heroine role as she is forced to fight or be consumed by the blob.

    inline Image inline Imageinline Image
    While The Blob is a bit dated with its mullets and pre-cgi effects, I still prefer these traditional effects over the excessive CGI we see today. Most of us still prefer stop motion, animatronics, and any other pre-cgi methods used to create effects. From tentacles shooting out to grab victims and numerous shots of victims merged with the blob itself, the effects remains a blast to watch over 25 years later.

    inline Image The runtime is just 95 minutes and things progress nicely. Unlikely modern remakes and reboots (I'm looking at you Godzilla 2014), we are given ample doses of the blob and things never really let up once they get rolling. The first 15-20 minutes set the stage for the story and then things start rocking until the end credits roll. The story is simple and fun with some great characters, most of which meet a grisly demise at the hands, or tentacles, of the blob. I can't help thinking if The Blob were remade in 2014, we would get pure CGI and it would spend too much time on setting the story up. This remake keeps things simple and with a monster movie like this, that's all we want. We're here to see the blob do some damage and cause mayhem. The remake delivers on that. Recommended!

    Image Quality

    Twilight Time presents The Blob in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Many have seen the HD masters of this movie that have aired on various broadcasts, myself included. This seems to be the same master and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, there are some noteworthy issues to discuss. Overall the image is sharp but there are some scenes with less detail and softness. There is lots of grain ranging from light to heavy in some of the darker scenes. Colors are vibrant and accurate. I saw no dirt or other blemishes. While we could argue Twilight Time should have cleaned this up more, and perhaps they should have, we have all seen what heavy DNR can do to a transfer (see Predator 3D for the wax-like images of Arnold Schwarzenegger). Grain can be present in the source material and its not always a bad thing. Taking it out can often be worse.

    I am disappointed that the disc is BD25 versus BD50. With 3gb used for a supplement, we are left with just under 21gb for the presentation itself. There's no doubt the video bitrate took a hit from this, however small that may be. For the high price tag, the disc should have been BD50.

    Sound

    Twilight Time included a lossless DTS-Audio 5.1 mix on the bluray. Dialogue is clearly and audible throughout. There's decent use of channel separation and LFE in some of the heavier action and death scenes. It's an above average track that is enjoyable to listen to.

    Supplemental Material

    inline Image Here is where Twilight Time made some real progress. While their previous horror blus contained recycled supplements from previous DVD releases, they made some new supplements for The Blob. First up is the audio commentary with director Chuck Russell and horror authority Ryan Turek. It's a great track. Chuck shares lots of information on the production and Ryan does a great job keeping things going and asking questions. There are times when listening to a commentary can be a chore, especially for a review and even for a movie you love. That wasn't the case here at all. No gaps of silence and just tons of enjoyable information about the creation of The Blob.

    Next is a brief segment (HD) titled Friday Night Frights at the CineFamily. It features an 18 minute Q&A with director Chuck Russell after a recent 35mm screening of The Blob. It's an enjoyable extra. Some of the information is repeated in the commentary but that's to be expected.

    Concluding the supplements is an isolate score track and a theatrical trailer (HD).

    Final Thoughts

    We can always ask for more. We could ask for an even better transfer, more supplements, and a steelbook while they are at it. In the end, Twilight Time did a great job on this bluray. The transfer isn't flawless and that's okay. It's above average and the best this movie has ever looked. In addition we are given a great lossless audio track and some enjoyable supplements. I know many aren't thrilled with the price tag. I have no issues paying $29.95 for some bluray releases, especially for movies that Sony themselves would never bother with. The movie itself is a great 'creature from space' flick. If you're a fan, this bluray is a great way to revisit it.

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - B+

    Image Quality - B+

    Sound - A-

    Supplements - B


    Technical Info.
    • Color
    • Rated R
    • 1 Disc
    • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    • English subtitles
    Supplements
    • Audio commentary with director Chuck Russell and horror authority Ryan Turek
    • Isolated score track
    • Fright Night Frights at The Cinefamily
    • Original theatrical trailer
    • Limited to 5,000 units
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  2. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    Yeah, agreed Dave. TT were really cheapskates putting this on a BD-25...especially with a $30 price tag. It could have looked so much better with a maxed bitrate on a BD-50. Audrey Rose and The Believers did get BD-50's though, go figure!
     
  3. Dave

    Dave Pimp

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    They updated their Facebook page on 10/22 that there are fewer than 200 remaining.
     
  4. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    Finally broke down and bought a copy of the old Columbia-TriStar disc. I'm ready to give this movie another chance.

    Though, I will still stick to it being wrong to just steal Alien and C.H.U.D.'s plotlines when the government conspiracy thing comes in. I have to be immovable on that.
     
  5. fceurich39

    fceurich39 Well-Known Member

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    happy to have finally got this blu-ray today as I missed out when it was available one of my favorite horror movies
     
    Mutilated Prey likes this.

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