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The Blob: Criterion Collection (1958) - Blu-ray Review

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The Blob - Blu-ray Review Criterion Collection

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5 Stars

When it comes to teenage terror, one cannot get any better than the menacing red gelatin threat of director Irvin S. Yeaworth’s The Blob.  It’s an efficient horror house scare and, as far as entertainment goes, it’s perfectly structured to still get a response from modern audiences.  And that – in the age of decreasing attention spans, countless SAW wannabes, endless Paranormal Activity sequels, and one too many Final Destination movies – is saying something about its continued impact.

Starring (and introducing) Steve McQueen as a clever teen named, of all things, Steve (maybe it was the method acting), The Blob begins with a teenage couple taking a pause from their necking session to stare languidly at the stars above them.  His girlfriend, Jane Aneta Corsaut), doubts Steve’s sincerity as a large comet blasts across the sky.  The two watch as it crashes off in the distance and – because the mood has been decidedly altered by the comet and conversation - decide to chase after it.  Who wouldn’t want to avoid awkward date nights with a little asteroid investigation?  Thanks be to a screenplay by Kate Phillips and Theodore Simonson for supplying audiences with this alien excuse because, as I can attest from many an awkward date, the “let’s investigate” strategy works in saving bad dates.

Landing in an old man’s field, The Blob begins to take shape.  Pun intended, folks.  Back off.  The Old Man (a very recognizable Olin Howland in his last movie role) shuts his puppy in his shack and goes off to investigate.  He probably shouldn’t have touched the meteor.  What’s inside the small rock attaches itself to him and begins to cause the old man much pain as it grows.  He runs off to the nearest road and is almost sideswiped by Steve and Jane in their car.

And so, as Steve and Jane rush the old man to the nearest doctor, The Blob begins its digestive and messy romp through the dark hours of the night in Small Town, USA.  But it’s where it ends – in a movie theater showing scary movies – that will have you begging for more.  This cleverness – a low budget movie intended for teens where its monster eats teens trapped in a movie house – is ridiculously smart and entertaining and its effervescent energy knows no limits.  Watching it again – for the umpteenth time – is my proof.  There’s just no possible way to ding this film and be taken seriously.  This is a classic of the B-movie monster mayhem genre.

While many suggest there is a red scare commentary running through The Blob’s gelatinous motivations, there’s simply too much freewheeling teenage energy to consider it anything but entertainment.  Those interpretations are founded solely in its red color and its devouring of innocent Americans and, to me, their reaching to find subtext.  Recent viewings only prove to me that this is entertainment not commentary.

Unlike Them! and other subtext-heavy pictures of the era, no one pauses to consider the anti-American activities of the blob.  No one has any “message” moments; it’s all reaction until a frigid solution is proposed.  If anything – with the teenagers vying for the police’s respect as they demand to be taken seriously about the threat – this is a picture more concerned with generation gaps than invading communists.

The Blob is agenda-free enjoyment.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Blob - Blu-ray Review Criterion CollectionMPAA Rating: This picture has not been rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 82 mins.
Director
: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.
Writer
: Theodore Simonson, Kay Linaker
Cast: Steve McQueen; Aneta Corsaut; Earl Rowe; Olin Howland; George Karas
Genre: Horror |Classic
Tagline:
Beware of the Blob! It creeps, and leaps, and glides and slides across the floor.
Memorable Movie Quote: "How do you get people to protect themselves from something they don't believe in?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Home Video Distributor:
Criterion
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 12, 1958
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 12, 2013

Synopsis: An alien lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.

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The Blob - Blu-ray Review Criterion Collection

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 12, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: LPCM Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The Blob’s gooey greatness gets the HD treatment and the results are spectacular.  Remaining true to the glowing color palette of its original run, the crisp 1080p results are positively luminous.  Criterion delivers another fantastic restoration.  The film looks clean and clear throughout with little grain, a stable image and a minimum of dust and scratches. Most of the film takes place at night but thanks to good contrast and shadow detail the picture is very watchable. The saturated colors are particularly vivid the white levels are strong without blooming.  The mono soundtrack is handled with the same care.  While the dynamic range is limited and a hiss is audible, there are no pops or other major flaws and the dialogue and music are quite clear. The audio track issues are more from the original recording technology than from its transfer to Blu-ray.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Porting over the two excellent commentaries from the DVD version, Criterion keeps audiences well-informed about The Blob’s origins with commentaries from producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder and, on the second one, director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. and actor Robert Fields.  Very nice inclusions indeed.

Special Features:

With this release, Criterion hasn’t really “beefed” up the content.  As with the previous DVD release, there is a collection of behind-the-scenes photographs, some annotated, called “Blobabilia!” and an original trailer.  The trailer has seen better days but it’s a good glimpse at the marketing of it.  Gone is the fold out poster which is unfortunate.  Now, we have a booklet. Kim Newman contributes good liner notes but, if one listens to the commentaries, the information is a bit repetitive.

  • Blobabilia!
  • Trailer

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