The Blob appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turns into a satisfying visual presentation.
Overall sharpness was good. Occasional soft shots appeared, but I felt those came from the original photography and resulted from lackluster attention to focus. Not exactly a big-budget flick, I suspected that the producers didn’t worry if the image occasionally lacked the usual precision.
Despite those lapses, overall definition was fine, and I saw no of jagged edges or moiré effects. The image lacked edge haloes or signs of digital noise reduction; the movie showed a natural grain structure. Print flaws weren’t a factor, as the flick remained clean.
Colors looked fine. The film came with a bit of a yellow feel, but the tones still seemed peppy and bright much of the time. Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows showed good clarity; except for a couple of “day for night” shots, the low-light elements were smooth. The issues with focus meant the image lacked consistency, but I felt the Blu-ray represented the source well.
I felt less satisfied with the movie’s monaural soundtrack, though I suspect it was a product of its age and budgetary restrictions as well. Speech usually came across as harsh and sibilant. The lines could be distorted and they also often seemed poorly integrated with the action; it appeared that some bad dubbing occurred, and this problem exacerbated the already-iffy quality of the dialogue.
Music sounded tinny and shrill, and effects were somewhat rough as well. A little noise crept into the track at times, but the audio usually came without those distractions. Although the sound wasn’t terrible, it had too many concerns for a grade above a “C-“.
How did this Blu-ray compare to the original Criterion DVD from 2000? Flawed as it remained, the audio was a little cleaner and better developed, and visuals showed nice improvements. Actually, the added resolution of Blu-ray made the soft focus more obvious, but I couldn’t fault the transfer for that, and most of the movie showed much improved delineation. The Blu-ray was a good step up in picture quality.
The Blu-ray duplicates the DVD’s extras, and we start with two audio commentaries. The first involves producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder. Both men were recorded separately and their remarks were later edited together; the same went for the second commentary as well.
The first track mainly provides statements from Harris, who provides a lot of terrific information about the creation of the film. He covers the project’s genesis and a lot of elements about its shoot plus its afterlife and facts related to the world of low-budget horror flicks in the Fifties. Eder adds some additional historical perspective, but it’s really Harris’s show. All in all, I enjoyed the commentary and it added to the experience.
The same goes for the second track, which features director Irvin S. Yeaworth and actor Robert “Tony” Fields. We get essentially the same mix of subjects found in the first commentary, but we hear alternate perspectives in this piece and get a lot of different details.
I think we find a good balance between the two participants; Yeaworth probably dominates the track but not to a tremendous degree. I especially like their various comments about Steve McQueen and his effect on the set. It’s another strong commentary that provides a lot of fine information about the film.
In addition to these two commentaries, we find the movie’s theatrical trailer plus a section of “Blob-abilia”. The latter features 63 frames of images. (That total doesn’t count title cards that describe what we see.)
Most of the stills offer shots from the production, but we also see some close-ups of props from the film and a gallery of movie posters. I found some of the foreign ads most interesting. The French poster is especially amusing as it depicts McQueen with his shirt torn open to display his muscular chest; clearly this release of the movie was done to capitalize on McQueen’s subsequent fame, especially because he looks much older than his appearance in The Blob.
In the package’s booklet, we find a decent little essay from critic Kim Newman. It alters the booklet from the original DVD – and also drops a mini-poster from that release.
The Blob stands as an example of horror movies from the Fifties and works well within those limitations. It lacks compelling characters and much fright value, but parts of it can be entertaining. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and two useful audio commentaries, but audio reflects the limitations of its source. This becomes a solid reproduction of a moderately enjoyable film.