The Blob (1988)
By: Stuart Giesel on November 1, 2012 | Comments
Columbia Tri-Star | Region 1, NTSC | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 85 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Chuck Russell
Starring: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark
Screenplay: Chuck Russell, Frank Darabont
Country: USA
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This remake of the 50's black and white film of the same name (also reviewed here at DR) joins the small list of horror remakes that are better than their original inspirations - said list includes Cronenberg's The Fly, Carpenter's The Thing and The Hills Have Eyes remake.

A meteorite crashes at the town's outskirts, the remains found by a homeless guy who proceeds to jab some of the pulsing orange ooze with a stick (as you do) and - you'll never guess - gets horribly eaten. The blob presumably has as much taste for human meat as a slob like me has for KFC. The hobo, complete with blob attachment, is unwittingly taken into town by football star Paul (Donovan Leitch), cheerleader Meg (Shawnee Smith) and rebel Brian (Kevin Dillon), who you know is a rebel because he has long hair, wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle. The blob escapes from the worst hospital in the world and that's where the fun begins, as the town is ripe with unsuspecting fleshbags to devour and the blob increases in mass the more it consumes.

The Blob has a number of things in its favour. The script was co-written by a Mr. Frank Darabont who probably needs no introduction to fans of The Shawshank Redemption or 2007's terribly underappreciated The Mist. The script is admittedly pretty standard horror fare, but the dialogue is probably better than most, certainly leagues ahead of the endless Friday the 13th sequels that littered the 80's. It's able to remain evocative of those 50's monsters-invading-a-small-town flicks - especially in the town quarantine scenes - with an appropriately heightened sense of paranoia, whilst giving modern audiences the spectacle they expect. Like a lot of the 50's monster movies, science-gone-awry is the ultimate bad force here, as opposed to the mindless monster it has unleashed. The presence of 80's B-grade staple Shawnee Smith is another plus. Even though her character is fairly typical of the genre, she proves herself to be a likeable lead and thankfully able to hold her own. The absolute highlight, of course, has to be the excellent practical effects that still hold up today (other than some sub-par blue-screen work) because, yes, they are practical effects and not bargain basement CGI. Of course, were The Blob made these days (I have no doubt another remake is on the cards) it would be all CGI and the creature itself would probably spill over the screen like one of the annoying CGI-inserted characters in the Star Wars re-release, constantly trying to draw attention to itself. Here, with the practical effect blob, you have a menace that the actors can react to, and a parade of fairly gloopy and grisly effects that aren't quite as graphic as Rob Bottin's work in The Thing or Chris Wala's effects in The Fly, but are still a damn sight better than the stuff we get in these days of CGI blood spillage. The deaths are nasty - people dissolve and break apart - and no one is spared. The film itself also looks a treat - those ominously-lit forest scenes are strongly reminiscent of E.T. the Extraterrestrial. Director Chuck Russell, who's otherwise best known for directing A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, The Mask and - ahem - Eraser with Arnold Schwarzenegger, does a decent job of maintaining interest in the story during the the non-blob scenes, and doesn't over-stylise anything.

It's not all good. Some of the foreshadowing is obvious. Will a stubborn coat zipper prove an obstacle later on? Yup. And I wonder if Brian will be forced to make a ramp jump later in the film that he wasn't able to complete at the start of the film? Yup. The attempts at humour fall flat more often than not, and even though it's a movie about an alien space blob that eats people, logic isn't its strong point (it's affected by cold? - possibly an issue considering it came from space). But at the end of the day who cares? This isn't the sort of film to be nitpicking - you simply sit back and enjoy as the blob eats men, women and, yes, even children (huzzah!). Some people will prefer the more implied threats of the Steve McQueen-fronted original, whereas this Blob shoves half-devoured people in our faces with some awesome practical effects, and like Carpenter's The Thing ensures the film is all the better for it.
The anamorphic widescreen presentation is pretty good; there is some grain but the picture is lively and even in the darkest scenes there is still an acceptable amount of detail. Colour feels a little washed out in certain scenes, but this could have been a stylistic choice on the part of the filmmakers.
The 2-channel English track is hardly going to test your sound system to its limits. The dialogue is acceptable, whilst some of the sound effects are quite good (any time the blob eats someone there are a variety of gruesome, squelching sounds to go with it). An often-droning and perfunctory score inhabits the background, barely making itself known.
Extra Features
If you were to take a very quick glimpse at the back of the DVD case you would see a bunch of things listed under the special features and think it was a pretty packed disc. You'd be wrong. See, this is where the makers have put down things like "subtitles", "widescreen presentation", "interactive menus" and "scene selections" as features. Jesus wept. The only actual feature on the disc is a set of trailers for The Blob, John Carpenter's Vampires and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Poor show indeed.
The Verdict
The Blob is an underappreciated 80's gem that in my humble opinion - like Carpenter's The Thing - far outstrips the original in terms of stylishness, atmosphere and, yes, gruesome effects. Come for the creature, stay for the gore.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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