THE BLOB (1958)
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.
The Criterion Collection

I might as well get it off my chest right from the beginning...I'm not a big fan of this movie. Evidently I'm in the minority, for THE BLOB is still commonly considered the best of all fifties monster flicks. I say "Beware The Blob, yes...but I mean my critique and not the monster!"

This "cult classic" begins splendidly, as a soaring meteorite crashes to Earth one evening just as oversized teenager Steve McQueen is making out in his car with The Andy Griffith Show's Aneta Corsaut. They drive off into the night to investigate.

In the meantime, old man Olin Howlin leaves his wooded shack in the forest and finds a nearby crater where the smoking meteorite has landed. Poking it curiously with a stick, he is horrified when it cracks open to reveal a slimy parasite, which instantly slithers its way onto his hand and won't come off. In a panic, the old man runs off into the road where McQueen and his girlfriend nearly hit him with their car. The two "kids" exit their vehicle and place the nervous victim into the back seat and proceed to rush him to the nearest doctor.

Thus end the best moments of THE BLOB. While Dr. Hallen prepares treatment for the unfortunate old patient with the gunk on his arm, our leading couple is out playing car racing games with some other juveniles, even coming close to getting a ticket from Police Lieutenant Dave. This bit of nonsense seriously mars the suspense that was buildingregarding the elderly man and the Blob.

And this is basically why the movie degenerates: boring stretches of inactivity in place of what should have been more marauding monster madness. The Blob grows larger and larger as it devours townsfolk, but while these sequences are well-staged and the special effects are first-rate for this era, they're weakened by too many uninvolving incidents, like McQueen trying to convince leery adults who look younger than he does that there is a deadly creature oozing around town. Ho-hum. If not for the film's color novelty, I doubt fans would think as much of it as they do.

While I do not think too much of the film, I can only heap praise on this outstanding DVD presentation. There has been a new digital transfer mastered from the original 35mm camera negative, and the vibrant color is so breathtakingly gorgeous that it makes you think you died and went to heaven. The film is letterboxed at a ratio of 1.66:1, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. I can't fathom the movie ever looking better than it does here. The sound was also remastered, yet I heard some slight surface noise on rare occasions.

Criterion does exceptional work on their DVD's, and in this case I think it might have been TOO much fuss. Do we really need TWO audio commentary tracks (one with the producer and a film historian; the other with director Yeaworth and actor Tony Fields)? There is also a neat still gallery, a trailer, and even a large folded poster of the cover tucked inside!! I still find it a frustration that certain movies get the red carpet treatment while others are lucky to get pressed on a disc at all.

Still, if you're one of the many Blob-nuts out there, you've got a release here to knock your socks off. Just be sure to have plenty of cash on hand, though, because at $40, I'd find this disc rather pricey even if I adored the film. (Joe Lozowsky)