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The Blob: The Criterion Collection

Irvin S. Yeawoth's The Blob is a film that is greater than the sum of its parts, but is still not as good as it should be to be in the lauded Criterion Collection. Released in 1958, the picture was meant to capitalize on the success of both juvenile delinquent films and the Roger Corman-esque monster-movie fare that had become popular at the drive-in. Starring Steve McQueen (shortly before he made a name for himself in the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive), The Blob is about a group of teenagers that find a meteorite that has glopola in the center. When this glop finds its way on the hand of a crazy old coot, it grows in size and devours him. Since the police find it hard to believe a bunch of car-racing teenagers, the Blob devours a local doctor and finds its way around town, ever growing in size, all the while delivering some "classic" moments (oozing into a theater, sliming over a diner). Compared to the genuinely classic horror films of Universal or the best of Carpenter, Romero, or Hooper, The Blob not very good at either thrilling its audience with scares or delivering a subtext. As a science fiction film, it sorely lacks the fun of a grade Z film or a classic like The Day the Earth Stood Still. As a teen picture, it's no Rebel without a Cause. But blending the three genres together makes an acceptable melange, even if it isn't campy enough for out and out laughs or MST3K parody/contempt — though the theme song theme song by Burt Bacharach and Mack David is. The screenplay is engaging, giving reasonable depth to most of the characters, and film runs a quick 83 minutes. It's also never as poorly acted or directed (as an Ed Wood film is, for example), and there's at least one good scare when the Blob descends on the coot's hand, a moment that was stolen for the 1988 remake. Made by professionals and shot in Technicolor, The Blob looks and moves better than it should — an enjoyable time-waster, if not as good as the best of period or genres. But such didn't discourage Criterion from making a super-deluxe version on DVD, where it looks better than it ever has before in a newly remastered letterboxed transfer (1:85:1), even better than their previous Laserdisc version, as the colors seem to pop off the screen. Audio is in the original mono, and also on board are two audio commentaries, one by the producer and film historian Bruce Eder, the other by the director and actor Robert Fields. There's also a section for "Blob-abilia!" which amounts to collector Wes Shank's array of stills, posters, props (including the Blob itself), and other ephemera, and a trailer. In the case is a poster as well, like the one with Criterion's Rushmore, except it's a reproduction of the DVD cover art. Keep-case.

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