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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 11/29/00



The Blob
1958 (2000) - Paramount (Criterion)

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Blob (Criterion) Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/B-

Specs and Features

82 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.66:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, two audio commentaries (one with producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder and the other by director Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. and actor Robert Fields), theatrical trailer, BLOB-abilia! (collector Wes Shank's rare trove of stills, posters and props), film-themed menu screens, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD 1.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

"Beware of the Blob! It creeps and leaps and glides and slides across the floor. Right through the door and all around the wall. A splotch, a blotch. Be careful of the Blob!"

With those lyrics from the Hal David and Burt Bacharach-penned title song, and a really groovy opening credits sequence, we are introduced to The Blob. Hokey, low-brow Sci-fi though it may be, The Blob has earned its place in cinematic history as one of the preeminent films of the creature feature/teen exploitation genre. It's not as well made as some of the Universal-era monster films, and it lacks the strength of teen films like Rebel without a Cause, but so what? It's not trying to be either of those things. It's a really cool little film that is the perfect example of great drive-in movie making.

As wholesome teens Steve (Steve McQueen) and Jane (Aneta Corsaut) are having a late night romp at lover's lane, a shooting star streaks across the sky. Just a short distance away from them, an old man investigates the molten meteorite that landed in his back yard. As he pokes and prods at it, the meteorite falls apart and a gelatinous blob spills out of it. Little does the old man realize that the ooze is a man-eating life form, and the interstellar goo soon incapacitates him. Steve and Jane come across the old man on their way home and take him to the town doctor to see if there's any hope for recovery - bad move. As the gelatinous mass carves its way through town, it grows in size, and it doesn't look like there's any way of stopping it. Will the town be able to overcome the power of the Blob, or will it overtake them, the state and then the world?

Part of the appeal and enduring fun of The Blob is the willingness of the filmmakers to bow to the ridiculous. The actors playing the teenagers in the film are so obviously not in their teens, but it's fun to watch them try. Steve McQueen was 27 at the time of filming, and his acting here has always seemed like a James Dean parody. And the town hoods are anything but intimidating. They are a bunch of goody-goodies reciting generic badass dialogue on their way back from Bible school. The super low budget of The Blob also gives the film some really creative (and unintentionally funny) effects. The blob itself isn't all that scary, and the reclusive, titular star only makes a few short on-screen appearances. The illusion would be ruined if we saw it too much. As it is, The Blob is a standout among low-budget Sci-fi romps, that satisfies on all levels. It's a great popcorn movie.

Criterion prepared a really terrific anamorphic print for the DVD debut of The Blob. This is undoubtedly the best this film has looked in a very long time, and the added detail afforded by the anamorphic transfer is immediately apparent. Colors are uniformly strong and vivid, with particular strength in the many shades of blue used in the film. Black levels and shadow delineation are resolute and detailed. The print is also free of digital artifacts and edge enhancement, that would otherwise hamper the clean picture. The film is just a smidgen on the grainy side, but this may be attributed to the film stock used when making the movie - it's not something you'd consider a defect. It's part of the film's character. All in all, you're not going to find much to gripe about with this picture. The Dolby Digital 1.0 track is about as good as a mono soundtrack can be. Its cohesive sound mix lacks the distracting hisses and pops that often plague older mono tracks. There are no audio dropouts and dialogue is consistently stable and audible.

Though the features are entertaining and, on the whole, enlightening, I don't think there's anything here that warrants the $40 Criterion asking price. That's far too many clams to shell out for a features-light DVD of a B-flick from the 1950's. Both the commentaries are entertaining, but producer Harris and historian Bruce Eder's commentary is, at times, a little on the dull side. The two also give contradictory information once or twice. Harris will say one thing, and then Eder (whose commentary was spliced in after Harris gave his) will correct him. Harris seems well informed about the actual film, but kind of oblivious to anything that has happened since the making of the film. He talks some about leading lady Aneta Corsaut, and is apparently unaware that she died of cancer in 1995. Director Yeaworth and actor Robert Fields flow a little more freely with their commentary (which was also spliced together) and, between the two of them, provide a lot of behind-the-scenes information. BLOB-abilia! is a rather lengthy still gallery comprised mostly of behind-the-scenes photographs from private collector Wes Shank. There's a slew of pictures of the sets, props, actors and the actual Blob (a bowling ball-sized mass of silicon). We also get the film's original theatrical trailer. It's a little worse for the wear due to age, but it's still watchable and it's also 16x9 enhanced - a nice touch. All in all, this is a good (but not great) set of features.

The Blob is a take-it-or-leave-it type of movie. It's a corny, low-budget, infinitely silly little film, that is heavily drenched in its time period. And in the end, it's all the better for it. You can't watch this movie and NOT think of that era of American culture. I'm glad Criterion decided to release this film on DVD. High price and low features aside, it's a pretty good disc, and the video quality alone is a major selling point. If you like The Blob, you'll definitely want to get your hands on this DVD.

Dan Kelly
dankelly@thedigitalbits.com




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