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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Two audio commentaries: one by producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder and the other by director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. and actor Robert Fields
  • Trailer
  • Blobabilia!, a gallery of collector Wes Shank's rare trove of stills, posters, props (including the blob itself!), and other ephemera

The Blob

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Irwin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
Starring: Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe, Olin Howlin, Stephen Chase, John Benson, George Karas, Elbert Smith
1958 | 82 Minutes | Licensor: Worldwide Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #91
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: March 12, 2013
Review Date: February 28, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

A cult classic of gooey greatness, The Blob follows the havoc wreaked on a small town by an outer-space monster with neither soul nor vertebrae, with Steve McQueen playing the rebel teen who tries to warn the residents about the jellylike invader. Strong performances and ingenious special effects help The Blob transcend the schlock sci-fi and youth delinquency genres from which it originates. Made outside of Hollywood by a maverick film distributor and a crew whose credits mostly comprised religious and educational shorts, The Blob helped launch the careers of McQueen and composer Burt Bacharach, whose bouncy title song is just one of this film's many unexpected pleasures.

Forum members rate this film 7.7/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.ís The Blob receives a Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion (who previously released the film on DVD and LaserDisc,) who again presents the film in its original aspect ratio of about 1.66:1 on a single-layer disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

The transfer is taken from a new 4k scan of the original camera negative (except for reel 5, as the notes state, which had deteriorated too much) and this new presentation does offer a noticeable and impressive upgrade over the DVD. The DVD itself still looks rather good all these years later (its transfer was also taken from the original negative) and upscaled it still offers a pleasant viewing experience, but this new high-definition presentation offers a far more film-like presentation. There are sequences where the image comes off a little soft, more than likely an issue with the original source (I still suspect soft focus was applied in some scenes to make Steve McQueen look like a teenager,) but the image overall is highly detailed, with clean edges. Colours look fairly good despite flesh tones carrying a slightly yellowish tint to them, but every version of the film Iíve seen has had this look. Blacks are very inky and deep but there are no issues with crushing and details are still easy to see in darker sequences.

Film grain remains and is cleanly rendered, but the biggest surprise may be the condition of the source materials themselves. Though a horror flick shot on the cheap it has managed to hold up well over the years and itís in near immaculate shape. Thereís some fading on the edges and the occasional blemish comes into view, but itís otherwise clean and free of damage. Though the transfer notes make a point that they had to use another source for sequences in the fifth reel because the original negative had deteriorated too much I was hard pressed to find a difference. The presentation delivers the same level of quality throughout and it looks terrific.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The Blu-ray upgrades the audio to lossless linear PCM 1.0 mono, but I canít say the track has improved much because of it. The volume level is a little better here (the DVDís audio sounded too low to me) but otherwise the track delivers a fairly distorted and edgy presentation. When thereís no dialogue, music, or action the track is quiet, but the moment someone talks or music comes into play you can make out a crackling noise or a slight hiss. The track is also a bit flat, lacking fidelity.

Ultimately you can at least make out what everyone is saying but the track shows its age and I suspect itís a direct issue with the original recording.

4/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Other than one insert everything has made it over from the original Criterion DVD, starting with two audio commentaries. Both are group tracks that have been edited together from separate recordings. The first features producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder. The dominant member of the track is unfortunately Harris. Harris covers the history of the production and how it came to life, starting with his desire to make a horror film after seeing The Thing, and then moving on to the actual funding of it and his surprise of Paramount actually picking it up. Sometimes I found he droned on but it was still an informative bit.

Bruce Eder, whose contributions I always welcome on commentaries, only appears on the first track a few times much to my disappointment. It sounds as though he had listened to the other recordings first, because he is referring to the other commentary participants all throughout. For the most part he offers his own insight into the film but not much else.

The second track features the director Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.óor ďShortyĒ as he says he is nicknamedóand actor Robert Fields, who plays Tony in the film. Yeaworth is the leading one in the track and he offers some fairly interesting points as well (some of it repetitive from the other track) like the story of how they came up with the title, which they wanted to sound just corny enough in the hopes that comedians or the press would make fun of it and unwittingly promote it. He also covers the religious films he did beforehand. Fields appears here and there and he actually spends his time commenting on working with Steve McQueen. Everyone else also mentions McQueen (either how great he was or what a pain he was, so I guess it depends on how you were dealing with him) but Fields focuses more on him, only once in a while commenting on himself; interestingly he wasnít very fond of the film initially.

An issue with group commentaries of this nature, where the participants are edited together, is that it always feels like information is being lost but because Criterion has spread the commentaries over two tracks I never got that feeling here. Despite some minor repetition theyíre both informative and entertaining, worth listening to.

Another extra that thankfully made it is a section called "BLOB-abilia!" This section is a collection of stills showing some Blob collectibles. There are production photos, plus photos of the sets and models used for sequences involving the blob moving about, complete with comparisons to a matching still from the film. There is even a photo of collector Wes Shank with the blob model (which is the very last one). There are even posters, some original and a few for re-releases, either domestic or over-seas (I thought the one from Germany with a pumped up Steve McQueen was good for a laugh). Criterion has been usually dropping these galleries from their Blu-ray releases for reasons Iím unsure of but thankfully they kept this one intact.

The disc then closes with rather campy theatrical trailer.

Criterion then includes an insert that looks the same as the DVDís but actually contains a different essay: the DVD features an essay by Bruce Kawin whereas this Blu-ray features a new essay by Kim Newman who writes lovingly about the film and other films of the genre and period.

Missing is the poster insert that was included with the DVD, which was a reproduction of the Criterion cover art.

Though the commentary tracks are good the release does still disappoint a bit and I wish there was still some material on deleted sequences (like a scene where the doctor is more clearly devoured, which we see a picture of in the gallery and hear about in the commentary) or Burt Bacharachís catchy theme song.

Despite this the material is still interesting and entertaining enough. But it just feels that such a popular cult film should get a more lavish special edition.

6/10

CLOSING

The supplements are still slim and havenít been upgraded at all (and this release loses that rather cool poster insert) but the thing most will want to look into is the new video transfer, which looks unexpectedly amazing.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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