Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Alien > Creature > Psychology > Murder > Zombie > Thriller > Robots > The Blob (1958/Criterion Blu-ray)/The Brood (1979/Umbrella Region B Import Blu-ray)/Eaters (2010/E1 DVD)/Westworld (1973/Warner Blu-ray)

The Blob (1958/Criterion Blu-ray)/The Brood (1979/Umbrella Region B Import Blu-ray)/Eaters (2010/E1 DVD)/Westworld (1973/Warner Blu-ray)


Picture: B/B-/C+/B-     Sound: C+/B-/B-/B-     Extras: C+/C/D/C+     Films: B-/C+/D/B



PLEASE NOTE: The Brood Region B import Blu-ray disc will only play on machines capable of that Blu-ray encoded format and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



Here are some genre films, including two classics, one that almost has a cult following and a dud.



Irvin S. Yeathworth’s The Blob (1958) has been issued on video often, is highly influential and is one of the most successful B-movies of all time starting with its initial success, then renewed interest when star Steve McQueen became a big box office star and yet, the copies used have never been great.  Criterion issued a DVD version a while ago and we covered a recent DVD import that even included the late Larry Hagman’s Son Of Blob (1972, aka Beware! The Blob) sequel.  Now, Criterion has issued the film on Blu-ray and it has been restored and looks terrific.


McQueen and his girlfriend see what looks like a meteor hitting their small town and when they investigate, the strange sphere splits in half, unleashing a terror they could never imagine.  From there, the unreal events get worse and worse as people start disappearing.  Having seen it a good few times over the years including recently, I was pleasantly surprised how much more I got out of seeing the film in this edition.  You can really sit back and enjoy it in ways you would never expect.


The cast is good and fun, the set-ups effective, effects fine for their day and the pace of the film as brisk and effective as ever.  Sure, some of it is fake and now, predictable, but it is a real original in the Science Fiction and Horror genres, which is why I can say that you have not really seen the original Blob until you see it on this Blu-ray.


Extras exceed the import DVD (save the sequel) and repeat the Original Theatrical Trailer and two feature length audio commentary tracks: one by Producer Jack H. Harris and Film Historian Bruce Eder, while the second is by Director Yeathworth and Actor Robert Fields.  Criterion adds a nice stills gallery dubbed Blobmania! and paper foldout inside the Blu-ray case with tech information and an essay by Kim Newman.



David Cronenberg entered this kind of genre territory with The Brood (1979, not to be confused with John Frankenheimer’s Prophecy, promoted as heavily around the same time) with Art Hindle as a man investigating how his ill wife (Samantha Eggar) is being treated by an unusual doctor (Oliver Reed) for her problems, but the result is that it may be unleashing her Id monsters and possibly something even more terrifying none of them could ever expect.  That falls inline with killer babies like those in Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive films, British film The Asphyx and Friedkin’s The Exorcist, but despite the cast and supporting roles by Henry Beckman, Susan Hogan and Nicholas Campbell, the film never adds up to being very convincing.


That makes it a mixed bag with some good moments, creepiness in unusual places, but also a lack of the effectiveness that is distinctly Cronenberg, so it is essentially an attempt to be a little more commercial on his part and it did not exactly work out.  Still, this is ambitious including in its over-the-top moments and at least has enough moments to see it once, but have patience and expect wackiness.


Extras include the Original Theatrical Trailer and The Directors series look at Cronenberg’s career.



It somehow took two people, Marco Ristori and Luca Boni, to co-direct Eaters (2010), but they did and wow, is it awful!  Another zombie film with much gore, blood and flesh eating, it is one of a series of bad entries that thinks it can find greatness by ripping off Romero’s Day Of The Dead (1985, see the Blu-rays reviewed on it elsewhere on this site) and trying to make it better without realizing how great that film is.


This also goes on and on and on for 95 very long minutes and shows how bankrupt the genre has become.  If only one of the so-called directors had a fresh idea or any ambition, this would not be so pointless.  A lame making-of featurette is the only so-called extra.



Finally we have a thriller that offers some borderline horror in its Science Fiction set up.  MGM did not even want to handle Michael Crichton’s Westworld (1973), which he wrote and directed, but his first amusement park thriller gone wrong tale before Jurassic Park is actually a more clever film that has fun with the idea of Hollywood production values becoming so good that an amusement park of robots could happen.  James Brolin and Richard Benjamin play friends who visit the title locale, one of three run by Delos.


We still see Roman World and Medieval World as our protagonists enjoy their $1,000-a-day (think $10 – 20,000 now) visit where you can be what you want, kill the robots and even have sex with some of them.  Things get strange when a gunslinger (played cleverly by Yul Brynner) keeps wanting to kill the guys, but Benjamin keeps killing him.  Behind the scenes, scientists are taking care of the robots, but they are developing problems and the head scientist (Alan Oppenheimer, who would become the second robotics expert, Dr. Rudy Wells, on The Six Million Dollar Man soon after) is ultra-concerned and his worst fears are realized when the robots start to kill.

The film was first issued widescreen on an old 12” LaserDisc, then on DVD three times with the same transfer, so this new Blu-ray is a welcome upgrade, but more on its technical features in a moment.


Extras include the Original Theatrical Trailer featured on the DVD, but the nearly 10-minutes-long vintage featurette on the making of the film with Crichton being interviewed and the pilot episode of the ill-fated and odd Beyond Westworld TV series are the new extras.




The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on The Blob remarkably comes from its original camera negative save one damaged reel and that it looks so consistently fine throughout is a big surprise and makes it also the best performer on the list.  Though the grain from the older film stocks is here as we would expect from a production with a low budget as this one had, the color by DeLuxe is as consistent as it is impressive and we even get a few nice demo shots.  It should be added that the film was also issued in three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor prints at the time which are now very valuable and this transfer would still hold up to the best of them, though I would love to see a comparison of the two.  It should be noted that Forbidden Planet (reviewed elsewhere on this site and now out in a solid Blu-ray) was issued in more than one color format on film.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on The Brood has some good shots, but more than a few that show its age from visual effects, grain and minor flaws.  I also think the color is a little inaccurate.  The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Eaten is an HD shoot badly shot, on the soft side throughout and despite being the newest shoot here, the weakest artistically.


That leaves the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Westworld looking pretty good for its age and when compared to that now very old DVD, superior overall throughout save two small instances.  When Brolin and Benjamin get their rides down the hall to Westworld, the halls have three different sets of colored lights on the wall to show where the vehicles will drive them.  They look like lights on the DVD, but someone doing the transfer has tried to make them solid colors!  Also when the sexy robot about to join Benjamin in bed takes off her clothes, she is wearing lingerie that is sexy, but with an odd difference in color.  The DVD has the white article outlined in power blue color while the Blu-ray has a subtle silver color.  We will see if we can find out which one is correct down the line.


As compared to a recent Blu-ray from the French label Avanti has a slight (maybe a bit more than that) vertical stretch to it throughout taking the Panavision scope feel and sense of depth out of the entire film, whereas this new Warner Blu-ray is totally accurate in showing the scope frame properly unsqueezed.  I do see grain more than I expected and some flat moments of color and a few flat shots, but the graininess is ironically is just like grain on the Warner Blu-rays of MGM films of the time like Soylent Green (also 1973) and Logan’s Run (1976, both reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) so it must be inherent to the films tocks and developing MGM was using on their films at the time.


Also, the color on the Warner is more accurate than the French Avanti Blu-ray which has dulled the color in most scenes, the warner Blu-ray has proper MetroColor reproduction throughout with warmer fleshtones, metallically clear sterling silver, mirror & gold reproduction and more naturalistic lighting throughout.  Outdoor shots that are daylight correct on the Warner Blur-ay are practically overcast on the French Blu-ray which even the old DVD delivers better.  Why?  Someone took too many liberties with the French transfer and messed the film up badly, so our foreign readers should a void that copy explicitly and get this Region Free Warner Blu-ray instead.



The PCM 2.0 Mono sound on The Blob has some good sound on it and comes from the original magnetic soundmaster, but the film’s age and its low budget sadly hold this back from being another surprise, but it is narrowly better than the film has ever sounded before.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on The Brood also shows its age in its own way, but is newer by over 20 years and is more consistent by default.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Eaten is sloppy, has location audio issues and is not that well recorded or mixed overall, making it the worst soundtrack here and I doubt a lossless version would improve matters much.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Westworld is a nice upgrade from the simple stereo or even monophonic past releases, but sound is towards the front speakers as the surrounds are not consistent.  Sometimes we get stereo sound only, other times sound is more in the center channel than it ought to be.  Both dialogue and sound effects are improved, but sometimes, you can hear some flaws you could not hear before.  Otherwise, you’ll hear things you never heard before.  As a limited edition soundtrack in stereo was recently issued, Warner has taken that music and used it to upgrade the music by Fred Karlin on the film itself.


Though it does not sound as good as the amazing CD set, which you can read more about at the link at the end of this paragraph (along with the Futureworld sequel), it sounds just fine in the way it has been remixed into the film soundtrack overall.  A nice job that will impress longtime fans of the film as well as those just catching up to it now:





As noted above, you can order the import version of The Brood exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com