Monday, October 20, 2014

THE BLOB (1988) (Twilight Time Blu-ray Review)

THE BLOB (1988)

Label: Twilight Time
Region Code: Region FREE
Rating: R
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Duration: 95 Minutes
Director: Chuck Russell 
Cast: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Candy Clark

As the film begins what appears to be a meteor from outer space lands in the forest outside of Arborville, California. A drunken transient living in shack nearby investigates and begins to prod the meteor with a stick, as he does so a gelatinous glob clings to the stick and consumes his hand. The panicked transient  encounters three high school students nearby who take him immediately to the hospital for treatmentl. 

The three students are bad boy Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon), Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) and Paul Taylor (Donovan Lietch). Brian does not stick around long at the hospital, quickly jumping on his motorcycle and off to the local diner for eats while Meg and Paul stay behind with the transient. It's here that poor Paul witnesses the Blob dissolve the lower torso of the transient before it turns on him. The Blob is now much larger and drops from the ceiling consuming Paul in front of Meg who futilely tries to pull her boyfriend free of the acidic ooze only managing to pull his arm off before being knocked unconscious as the Blob oozes out the window and into town. 

The local sheriff (Jeffrey DeMunn) doesn't believe her fantastic story and she winds up at the diner with Brian who also doesn't believe her story either until the Blob shows up at the diner and sucks a cook head first down the sink drain! The sound of crunching bones and gross fleshy sounds in this scene still made me cringe - this is a brutal effect. It's after narrowly avoiding the Blob in the diner freezer that the teens discover it's only weakness - the damn thing hates the cold. Not so lucky is the waitress (Candy Clark) whom while in a phone booth outside the diner is overcome by the flesh-absorbing Jello-O mold. Again, the effects are old school practical and amazing with great use of various miniatures and reverse photography with tons of gooey grossness - the scene of the telephone booth imploding with the waitress inside is awesome stuff. 

With each person the Blob dissolves it becomes exponentially larger and more of a threat to the community. Eventually government agents in white contamination suits and machine guns show up to save the day but our bad boy Brian smells bullshit after he overhears the leader of the science team, Dr. Meadows (Joe Seneca), explaining that the creature is not an alien force but a Cold War-era biological weapon that crashed via a downed satellite. Brian flees the quarantine zone and into the sewers with Meg and her younger brother Kevin where they must contend with armed government agents and the ravenous flesh-eating creature leading up to a liquid nitrogen fueled finale.

Co-scripted by Frank Darabont (THE MIST) this is just a blast from start to finish with nods to the original and few unexpected twists and turns plus it's loaded with awesome special effects. The performances are damn decent even though that mullet on Kevin Dillon is chuckle worthy but I guess it goes with his bad boy image. Peripheral character include young lovers in car that fall victim to the goo, but the dude is awesome. A smooth ladies man with a full bar in his trunk and even a signature drink, plus a reverend who preaches the end-time message once the Blob arrives on the scene. He plays into the final scene in the film, one that would have seemed to indicate a potential sequel which unfortunately never panned-out.

The in-camera effects and gruesome death scenes are a blast, love it when the Blob infiltrates a contamination suit of one of the science team filling up the head gear before erupting, not unlike something we saw in BRAZIL. The story is fun and the characters keep you plugged-in but for me its the gooey effects that and sci-fi action that keep me coming back to this classic 80s remake. Right up there with John Carpenter's THE THING and David Cronenberg's THE FLY as one of the best remakes, it's a title I've been waiting to see come to Blu-ray for some time and it was well worth the wait. 

THE BLOB (1988) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Twilight Time with an AVC encode in it's original widescreen aspect ratio. The HD image is pleasing with a nice layer of film grain and a fair amount of detail, clarity and sharpness, quite an upgrade over the 2001 TrIStar DVD. 

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 has a good dynamic range with some nice use of the surrounds. You also have the option of an isolated score track highlighting the music of composer Michael Hoenig.

Special features include a commentary with director Chuck Russell moderated by Ryan Turek the managing editor of and co-host of the Bloodcast horror podcast. It's a fun commentary filled with a lot of facts about the film with special detailed to how the effects were created for each of the shots. Turek obviously loves the film and Russell is very enthusiastic when speaking about his experience making the film. 

There's also an 18-minute featurette Friday Night Frights at The Cinefamily, a Q+A with director Chuck Russell moderated by Ryan Turek following a screening of the movie. The director speaks about getting the project off the ground and the visual effects. On top of that we have a trailer for the film and an 8 page booklet with writing on the film from the always informative Julie Kirgo. 

- Isolated Score Track
- Audio Commentary with Director Chuck Russell and Horror Authority Ryan Turek 
- Friday Night Frights at The Cinefamily (18 minutes) 
- Original Theatrical Trailers

VERDICT: Simply one of the best remakes of all time with wonderful gooey in-camera effects work and not even Kevin Dillon's stupefying mullet can ruin this one for me. The PQ on the disc is great and the extras are damn decent. This is an easy recommend for horror fans and in my opinion a must own. This release is limited edition of 5000 and available exclusively from 4.5 Outta 5