Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blob It

Even the most loyal genre fan has her film holes. Who amongst us hasn't had to duck for cover when admitting those classics we haven't seen, only to finally seek them out and end up befuddled with the results. We sometimes find that the very genre-defining moments have since been defined with more skill, leaving us appreciating, if not necessarily enjoying the originals.
My love of 1988's underloved The Blob knows no bounds. I think it's a perfect horror film, filled with strong likable characters, an affectionate sense of place, and a kickass monster that remains terrifying 20+ years of technology later. 

(C'mon: TWO mullets in one movie? That can't be done with CGI)
And now allow me to confess: until a few days ago, I had never seen its source material. I had no real interest in doing so. My illicit relationship with Mystery Science Theater 3000 has educated me immensely on '50s monster movies and while I know there are true gems buried in the nuclear dust (Them! cannot be praised highly enough), I also rarely approach them expecting my life to be changed. 
But there’s only so long a gal can go before digging into the archives...
Quick Plot: In a friendly small town--one so good-natured that even the local ruffians agree they've been driving too fast lately--the world's second oldest teenager Steve (McQueen) puts the moves on Janey in his hotrod before almost hitting an old man that has just been partially blobbed before 'partially blobbed' became the universal phrase I hope it one day is. The sole town doctor sends Steve and Janey to Officer Dave while he gets fully blobbed but not too surprisingly, nobody with a badge wants to believe the troublemaking teens. 

As someone born in 1982, my knowledge of the '50s is defined by a combination of my parents' nostalgia and cinematic education. Though there are no poodle skirts or milkshakes to be found in The Blob, the film does encompass just about every other aspect I assumed was present in daily '50s life: dang kids, fast cars, movie house dates and blobs. My older readers can tell me if I'm wrong (which is highly unlikely because c'mon...blobs). 
There is no hesitation on my part to say that The Blob is a fun film. The actual monster is juicy and neat, something that surprisingly still works today. Seeing a town unite remains adorable, and Burt Bacharach’s hit theme song is so amazing even my CAT was entranced by the opening credits.

I can’t say I was ever actually frightened for the gee whiz youngins or concerned townsfolk, but I smiled throughout like someone who had just slurped down a delicious bowl of strawberry jell-o.
High Points
Though I can’t really say The Blob holds up as a frightening film, the effects remain effective (badom bom!) and an early car mechanic death is filled with gooey suspense

Low Points
I don't mean to kick the former 6 year old Kieth (that's how imdb spells it) Almoney in his now sensible 59 year old shoes, but I think his first big scene with big sis Janey might contain some of the worst acting ever attempting by a child performer

Lessons Learned
Just because some kid smacks into your wife on the turnpike doesn't make it a crime to be 17 years old. (On a side note, that’s a dark little character backstory that’s probably thankfully not explored eh?)
Much to the chagrin of eager cleaning ladies, one cannot just dust around fingerprints at a crime scene
Even in all-American towns, you can count on school principals to be stuffy and slightly British

The best way to deal with a global threat is to airdrop it in Antarctica. It's still cold there, right?
Stray Observations
As someone who has watched Killer Klowns From Outer Space more times than Costas Mandylor has done bicep curls, I was shocked to realize just how much that 1986 ball of cotton candy was inspired by The Blob. A few similarities:
-Officer Dave and his dubious fellow cops

-opening the film on a kissing couple’s quest to find the landing of a shooting star

-an ill-fated old farmer and his dog

-and dialogue as close as “He says Doc Hallen is dead. I’ve got to check it out!” in comparison to “They say some people are dead. Let’s hear them out!”
Horror fans owe it to themselves to dive into the gelatinous goop that is The Blob. It’s a piece of film history that represents a very specific era in cinema and while it probably won’t scare you with the same power as Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake, it’s easily entertaining in an aw shucks kind of way. The Criterion release features oodles of extras well worth the dip. Just don’t blame me when you find your head bopping along to theme song...for the rest of your life.


  1. I'm a huge fan of both BLOBS, and even liked BEWARE! THE BLOB, the sequel directed by, of all people, Larry "J.R. Ewing" Hagman! And you're right about the effects still holding up. I don't know if you were watching the Criterion edition of this flick, but there's a nifty extra about how the blob effects were achieved using colored silicon gel and good old-fashioned ingenuity. It's the kind of thing that makes me sorry for the development of CG, since that level of creativity and craftsmanship is so seldom seen these days as a result.

  2. Beware! The Blob is now on instant watch, so I'll probably get to it soon. Had NO IDEA about the Hagman connection!

    I did watch the Criterion edition--WHOAH special features!--but didn't get to that one. It's a shame. I did love that blob, almost as much as the remade blob (which remains probably my best monster design of all time, just edging out Shawnee Smith's mullet).

  3. Second oldest? Who's the oldest??
    As for the 50's Blob, it like nearly every single other film of its time, ends way too abruptly. I knew how it ended beforehand, but when it did I thought there would still be 20 or so minutes left, but about a minute after everyone collected the fire-extinguishers, BAM, the blob's being dropped into the arctic, the end!! Still an awesome movie though!! "beware of the blob, it creeps and leaps and glides and slides"

  4. Oldest=Dick Clark. 3rd oldest=Ryan Seacrest.

    I actually kind of adore the abruptness of the ending! It's so oddly ridiculous. Major Blob hostage situation, then BAM! "Hope the Arctic stays cold!" A thing of beauty.

    And f$CK! There goes my two-day record of not having the song stuck in my head!

  5. "Hope the Arctic stays cold!" THIS is the real danger of global warming! BLOBPOCALYPSE! :)

  6. You know, I ADORE all sorts of apocalypi, but quite frankly, a Blobocalypse is INSANELY TERRIFYING to me. Save us Al Gore!

  7. I've been a fan of Chuck Russell since the Elm Street 3 days and have much love for the blob remake. The Vicar is right, nowadays we'd be getting cgi slime and you have to love the practical f/x work here as well as Dillon's mullet.

  8. A non-CGI blob would be out of the question nowadays which would most likely be horrid. I don't think CGI has gotten any further with liquid following T2. I know Rob Zombie had been in talks to do a reremake, but that fell through. I can't attack the idea considering how much I absolutely LOVE Russell's remake, but so much of the charm comes from that incredible blob design. I guess I just don't want to live in a world where blobs aren't real!

  9. Thankfully rob zombie is not doing The blob, he needs to leave the classics alone.

  10. Man....Blobs. My love for this movie is akin to yours for KKOTW and you're darn right to point out the similarities, which was part of what brought me to love KKOTW.

    And the "everything from '50s life" comment was the filmmakers' intentions too. Producer Jack Harris has talked often about how his main idea for the film was to mix the teenage rebel films of the era (such as Rebel Without a Cause, which is borrowed from heavily) with the sci-fi craze. Where I sit, he succeeded awesomely.

    Oh, Blobs. :) So glad you enjoyed it.

  11. I know TD, the slow descent of Rob Zombie is saddening and the idea of him doing to The Blob what he did to Halloween 2 (I see some merit in the first one) is terrifying.

    Mike: The funny thing about the 'rebels' of The Blob is how incredibly NICE they are! They make the Terenzi Brothers look like Ace's gang in Stand By Me!

  12. I've only recently seen the '88 remake. Much like you, my interest in "classic horror" is minimally so-so to non-existent. It must be the curse of being born in 1982.

    I was delightedly surprised to see Chuck Russell, Shawnee Smith, and Dream Quest Images in the credits. Because that combination is a winning guarantee.

    So don't cower in embarrassment: there are one too many movies I'm ashamed I haven't seen yet.

  13. I love it when I genuinely love a 'classic,' but I just also feel so much pressure when watching them that I tend to avoid doing so. It's one thing to be disappointed, but it's even worse when it somehow seems like me not liking a classic disappoints someone else!

    Plus, whenever I'm in doubt, I just pop in the '88 Blob. That can cure ANY woes.