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The Blob Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 39 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 27 2013 - 09:50 AM

Combining the sci-fi, horror, and teen exploitation genres, Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.’s The Blob remains a lot of fun more than half a century after its initial release. There aren’t great shocks to be had here, and the acting is all over the place, but seeing one of the movies’ most iconic performers in his first starring film role is a tonic, and everyone is so earnestly trying to make something professional on a tiny budget that it’s silly to nitpick their choices so long after the fact.






The Blob (Blu-ray)
Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.

Studio: Criterion
Year: 1958
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 82 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: PCM 1.0 English
Subtitles: SDH


Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.95



Release Date: Match 12, 2013

Review Date: February 27, 2013




The Film

3.5/5


After seeing something fall from the sky into a nearby field, sweetheart teenagers Steve (Steven McQueen) and Jane (Aneta Corsaut) go to investigate only to find an old man (Olin Howlin) screaming for help with a gooey mass attached to his hand. Taking him to nearby Doc Hallen (Stephen Chase) only finds the mass growing eventually absorbing the old man, the doctor, and his nurse (Lee Payton) after the teens leave looking for clues about the mass’s origins. Local police headed by Lieutenant Dave (Earl Rowe) are wary of Steve’s cries for help suspecting the teens are playing another one of their pranks on the police, but with the doctor’s unexplained disappearance, and later Steve and Jane coming upon the ever-growing mass in his father’s grocery store, there’s clearly a monster on the loose that seems frankly unstoppable.


Because money was tight, screenwriters Theodore Simonson and Kate Phillips don’t develop the teen misdemeanor angle much at all (these are the nicest juvenile delinquents you’ll ever meet) and manage to keep most of the monster madness off screen thus making the audience have to use its imagination to picture how the creature is parasitically absorbing the humans it’s consuming. The movie’s low budget look doesn’t always work to its benefit, however, in numerous scenes where obvious models are used to emphasize the Blob’s enormity, and yet it’s so quaint that one doesn’t really care as it becomes part of the fun. Director “Shorty” Yeaworth keeps things simple throughout with no fancy camera shots or elaborate stagings of major moments in the movie. The actors really have to sell the material even with some strained dialogue along the way, but luckily there are enough professionals in the cast to pull it off.


Neither Steven (as he’s billed) McQueen nor Aneta Corsaut are the least bit believable as teenagers, but McQueen certainly has no trouble holding center stage and turning his character into someone the audience will pull for. Corsaut is less successful in her undemonstrative way often fading into the background during scenes where the other actors seem much more dynamic. Earl Rowe does solid work as the police lieutenant who finally makes a judgment call to believe Steve despite no evidence that he’s actually telling the truth. As the police officer who’s been the butt of the kids’ pranks and who mistrusts them inordinately, John Benson is also excellent. Stephan Chase as the doomed doctor and Robert Fields as another teen who stands solidly with Steve deliver very professional performances as well.



Video Quality

4/5


The film is framed at 1.66:1 and is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The film’s focus-puller is frequently at fault with shots that are softly focused for no good reason, but most of the movie features sharp and clear imagery free from age-related artifacts. Color is occasionally hot but is generally appealing with realistic flesh tones for much of the movie but occasionally a bit yellow. Black levels vary from fair to very good. The film has been divided into 19 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The PCM 1.0 (1.1 Mbps) sound mix is precisely what one would expect it to be from this era of low budget filmmaking, but even the modern sound engineers couldn’t remove all of the problems with the old sound elements they had to work with. There is occasional scratchy distortion and noise that can be heard during quieter moments, and there isn’t much on the low end of the sound reproduction. But dialogue is understandable throughout and is never overwhelmed by sound effects or Jean Yeaworth’s music. The main title song is by Burt Bacharach and Mack David and sounds quite good in uncompressed audio.



Special Features

3/5


There are two audio commentaries, and they’re both well worth a listen. The first finds producer Jack H. Harris reminiscing about the movie’s production and afterlife occasionally abetted by film historian Bruce Eder’s astute information and observations. The second features director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. and his many tales of the production’s ups and downs with occasional interspersed comments by actor Robert Fields who plays teen Tony in the movie. Both are very enjoyable and informative commentaries, among the best in the Criterion Collection’s archives.


A step-through gallery of stills, posters, and memorabilia from the film from the collection of Wes Shank also contains explanatory text frames.


The theatrical trailer runs 2 minutes in 1080p.


The enclosed pamphlet contains cast and crew lists, a couple of stills, and critic Kim Newman’s analysis of the movie.


The Criterion Blu-rays include a maneuvering tool called “Timeline” which can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc, the title of the chapter you’re now in, and index markers for the commentaries that go along with the film, all of which can be switched on the fly. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


Fans of The Blob will undoubtedly be happy to have the movie now in high definition and with uncompressed sound maintaining its place among the most innocent and entertaining of the 1950s outer space horror creature-features.



Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 39 OFFLINE   ahollis

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Posted February 27 2013 - 10:37 AM

Thanks for the review, but is it worth, in your mind, to replace the DVD? Not sure I see a reason.
"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#3 of 39 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted February 27 2013 - 11:51 AM

Yeah, I have the DVD too. Not sure I want to spring for the blu.
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#4 of 39 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted February 27 2013 - 12:46 PM

Have they fixed the framing? The DVD was framed too low.

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#5 of 39 OFFLINE   Todd J Moore

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Posted February 27 2013 - 01:17 PM

As a Steve McQueen fan (and fan of this movie), I've preordered it. I look forward to watching it.

Viewing a 3D movie in 2D is kinda like viewing a Scope movie in Pan and Scan.


#6 of 39 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted February 27 2013 - 01:20 PM

This Blu got announced just as I was going to get the DVD (I only need this and one more to have completed the first 100 spines), so I got lucky. Looking forward to this one!
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#7 of 39 Guest__*

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Posted February 27 2013 - 01:27 PM

According to the screenshots on dvdbeaver, there is a little more info at the top now, but not a whole lot. Heads that touched the top of the frame on the dvd, now have a little room above them...but not a lot.

#8 of 39 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted February 27 2013 - 01:55 PM

According to the screenshots on dvdbeaver, there is a little more info at the top now, but not a whole lot. Heads that touched the top of the frame on the dvd, now have a little room above them...but not a lot.

Looks to me like there is more image information on all four sides of the frame.

#9 of 39 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 27 2013 - 02:10 PM

I didn't have the original DVD release, so I can't make any comparisons. I found nothing compromised about the image in terms of framing on the Blu-ray.



#10 of 39 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted February 27 2013 - 02:19 PM

According to the screenshots on dvdbeaver, there is a little more info at the top now, but not a whole lot. Heads that touched the top of the frame on the dvd, now have a little room above them...but not a lot.

They shouldn't have a lot of headroom and I'm sure it's fine. Looking forward to this very much. With this film it's important to remember - VERY low-budget and not the world's finest director or camera person.

#11 of 39 ONLINE   ahollis

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Posted February 27 2013 - 02:29 PM

I didn't have the original DVD release, so I can't make any comparisons. I found nothing compromised about the image in terms of framing on the Blu-ray.

Thanks, i really enjoy the film, I will probably upgrade.
"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#12 of 39 OFFLINE   Greg_D_R

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Posted February 27 2013 - 03:05 PM

Thanks for the review, but is it worth, in your mind, to replace the DVD? Not sure I see a reason.

Yeah, I have the DVD too. Not sure I want to spring for the blu.

Alright, I tried to resist, but I can't let this go without comment. Seeing posts like these, on Home Theater Forum no less, amazes me. It's possible you're both viewing on small televisions, and might not be able to see the difference between blu-ray and dvd. Barring that, the benefit of the blu-ray is getting 6 times the picture information, not to mention deeper color, and often better sound. If you can't honestly see a reason to upgrade from this: http://farm9.staticf...cb19d2588_h.jpg To this: http://www.dvdbeaver..._blu-ray_05.jpg ...then, you have my sympathies. I really thought we were were past the "old movies can't benefit from blu-ray" nonsense, but this sounds like it all over again. Oh and, for the person who asked, it looks like there's more image at the top in several of the DVD Beaver screen caps, so that may address the framing issue.

#13 of 39 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted February 27 2013 - 03:14 PM

That beaver link goes straight to the beavers home page for me.
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#14 of 39 OFFLINE   Ken Volok

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Posted February 27 2013 - 07:46 PM

Yeah I'd rather have the first image than the DVDbeaver home page.

#15 of 39 OFFLINE   EddieLarkin

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Posted February 28 2013 - 12:24 AM

DVDBeaver image links have to be copy and pasted into the address bar. Clicking the hotlink will just take you to the home page.

#16 of 39 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted February 28 2013 - 01:46 AM

Alright, I tried to resist, but I can't let this go without comment. Seeing posts like these, on Home Theater Forum no less, amazes me. It's possible you're both viewing on small televisions, and might not be able to see the difference between blu-ray and dvd. Barring that, the benefit of the blu-ray is getting 6 times the picture information, not to mention deeper color, and often better sound. If you can't honestly see a reason to upgrade from this: http://farm9.staticf...cb19d2588_h.jpg To this: http://www.dvdbeaver..._blu-ray_05.jpg ...then, you have my sympathies. I really thought we were were past the "old movies can't benefit from blu-ray" nonsense, but this sounds like it all over again. Oh and, for the person who asked, it looks like there's more image at the top in several of the DVD Beaver screen caps, so that may address the framing issue.

And you have my sympathies for being so judgmental without having all the information. First of all, not every blu is a significant improvement over the dvd. I've seen many comments on the HTF about other blu-rays like "if you all already have the dvd, this is not a significant improvement." Second, I already have the Criterion dvd and The Blob is not one of my favorite 50's monster flicks. Third, some of us on the HTF have a limited budget for buying blu-rays and I'm one of them. I can't buy every single blu that I have at least a passing interest in. I have to make choices to buy this blu and not that one. So I ask questions to see if the blu-ray is worth my $. This is not meant to criticize those who have a larger budget to work with (though I might be a little envious :) ) . I certainly want older movies to be issued on blu-ray. I have Casablanca, Day the Earth Stood Still, Wizard of Oz to name some of them. All of these are favorite movies, The Blob is not. I have a 55" Samsung (bigger than some here and smaller than others) and I'm sure I would see a difference between the DVD and the blu-ray, but that's not my only criteria as I've mentioned above. When I asked my question I had all of these things in mind. Sure, you didn't know, and that's my point.
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#17 of 39 OFFLINE   BobO'Link

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Posted February 28 2013 - 03:10 AM

Thanks for the review, but is it worth, in your mind, to replace the DVD? Not sure I see a reason.

Yeah, I have the DVD too. Not sure I want to spring for the blu.

Alright, I tried to resist, but I can't let this go without comment. Seeing posts like these, on Home Theater Forum no less, amazes me. It's possible you're both viewing on small televisions, and might not be able to see the difference between blu-ray and dvd. Barring that, the benefit of the blu-ray is getting 6 times the picture information, not to mention deeper color, and often better sound. If you can't honestly see a reason to upgrade from this: http://farm9.staticf...cb19d2588_h.jpg To this: http://www.dvdbeaver..._blu-ray_05.jpg ...then, you have my sympathies. I really thought we were were past the "old movies can't benefit from blu-ray" nonsense, but this sounds like it all over again. Oh and, for the person who asked, it looks like there's more image at the top in several of the DVD Beaver screen caps, so that may address the framing issue.

Guess I need to have my eyes checked. The "improved" image on DVD Beaver looks darker with *less* detail in the shadows. Based solely on those 2 images I'd rather watch the copy the first was taken from in spite of a *slight* opening of the matte apparent on the second screen shot.

#18 of 39 OFFLINE   ahollis

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Posted February 28 2013 - 03:29 AM

Alright, I tried to resist, but I can't let this go without comment. Seeing posts like these, on Home Theater Forum no less, amazes me. It's possible you're both viewing on small televisions, and might not be able to see the difference between blu-ray and dvd. Barring that, the benefit of the blu-ray is getting 6 times the picture information, not to mention deeper color, and often better sound. If you can't honestly see a reason to upgrade from this: http://farm9.staticf...cb19d2588_h.jpg To this: http://www.dvdbeaver..._blu-ray_05.jpg ...then, you have my sympathies. I really thought we were were past the "old movies can't benefit from blu-ray" nonsense, but this sounds like it all over again. Oh and, for the person who asked, it looks like there's more image at the top in several of the DVD Beaver screen caps, so that may address the framing issue.

Assuming is not a good policy. I have a HD front screen projector that gives me a 10'x6' picture. I have many Blu-ray titles of older films including a lot of the Olive Titles. If there is a choice of film I do not own between Blu-ray and DVD I chose the Blu. I have also upgraded many DVD titles to Blu such as HONDO, ICE STATION ZEBRA, even THE FIRST NUDIE MUSICAL because their transfer is superior to the DVD. However already owing the DVD of THE BLOB and seeing an average rating it gives me pause. Should I up grade THE BLOB or use my funds to upgrade another title that will give me bang such as FUNNY GIRL or get DJANGO? That was my interest in the comparison. I know that Blu-ray can give a superior experience to a DVD, but as we learned with Alfred Hitchcock Collection, sometimes that is not always the case. An overall 3.5 rating is not a slam dunk in my book. I also do not place faith in screen caps but rely on reviews from sites I have found to be fair without agendas. HTF is one of those sites.
"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#19 of 39 OFFLINE   Chuck Anstey

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Posted February 28 2013 - 03:31 AM

Guess I need to have my eyes checked. The "improved" image on DVD Beaver looks darker with *less* detail in the shadows. Based solely on those 2 images I'd rather watch the copy the first was taken from in spite of a *slight* opening of the matte apparent on the second screen shot.

The problem is the way DVDBeaver tries to compare DVD and Blu images by having each image in its native resolution. By showing the DVD image smaller, it hides the differences but when displayed on your TV/projector, both images will be the same size regardless of the source. When I first looked at them I didn't see any significant difference with the Blu only being slightly better. So to make a fair comparison (within the limits of JPG compression) I copied both images into Photoshop and scaled the DVD to 1920x1080 to match the Blu. There is a significant jump in quality because the flaws and resolution limitation of the DVD become very apparent but The Blob Blu-ray is no reference image. I have never understood comparison websites not showing two images at the same size/resolution that will be viewed at the same size/resolution.

#20 of 39 OFFLINE   Robin9

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Posted February 28 2013 - 03:49 AM

Guess I need to have my eyes checked. The "improved" image on DVD Beaver looks darker with *less* detail in the shadows. Based solely on those 2 images I'd rather watch the copy the first was taken from in spite of a *slight* opening of the matte apparent on the second screen shot.

I can assure you that DVD Beaver's screen caps often suggest that the DVD is better than the BRD. This has been going on for a long, long time. I recommend that you cross DVD Beaver off your list of reliable sources of advice about picture quality.





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