A strange lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.
The Black Saint has always thought that the Blob was one of (If not THE) scariest movie monsters ever created. I mean think about it for a few seconds: A faceless, shapeless mass of goo that is in fact intelligent. Intelligent enough to know that it needs to eat & what it needs to eat is us! As a child I watched the original version of this film on late night TV in sheer terror wondering what could possibly stop this ever growing (In both size & color as it grew bigger & redder as it consumed more victims) thing as it continued to prove it was impervious to bullets and due to the amorphousness of it’s physique, could go pretty much wherever it wanted to. Despite it’s extremely goofy, but catchy theme song, it was a terrifying movie and still is to this day. The prospect of a remake way back in the late 80’s excited me no end, I could not wait to see how the film was going to be upgraded for a new generation and marvel at what special effect artists could do with the big glob of goo this time around. And when I finally got to sitting down in a theater to watch it, I was not disappointed…
For the 3-4 of you who have never seen neither film, “The Blob” is what emerges from a small meteorite that crashes to Earth. In both versions, an old man happens upon the smoldering rock & after fiddling with it for awhile, manages to crack it open. Using a stick, he removes what looks like the results of what a very large person with a bad cold might leave in a napkin after blowing his nose. Basically a giant slimy booger is what it looks like but this booger ain’t what it seems to be and quickly envelops itself around the old man’s hand, causing him great pain. In both versions, he is found by some teens (Steve McQueen in the original & Kevin Dillon in the remake) who take him to the local hospital to find out what the f*ck has attached itself to the poor guy’s arm. The scripts start to veer off ever so slightly from this point on though.
Hard to say much more without spoiling a lot of it but I can say that the first real surprise of this remake is that top billed Donovan Leitch really doesn’t spend too much time in the movie which was more than a bit shocking. He accidentally runs into the victim with Dillon chasing after him to find out what is on his hand. But the two featured actors are Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith who accompany Leitch to the hospital with the first victim and are the only two that really know what is going on but since Dillon’s character, Brian, is something of a “Bad Boy” in the neighborhood no one really wants to believe him. Of course before all of the shenanigans get started director Chuck Russell gives us a taste of the small town & it’s populace where the meteorite touches ground. There are some fine character actors to be found here, Candy Clark (“American Graffiti”), Jeffery DeMunn (“The Walking Dead”), Joe Seneca (“Crossroads”), Art LaFleur (“Cobra”) & if you’re quick you might even catch sight of Bill Mosely for a hot second or two as a soldier.
If you’ve seen the original then you know that the Blob gets out of the hospital and then it’s game on! Again, I have to emphasize the fact that the creature is essentially invulnerable. NOTHING seems to be able to stop it and that’s what’s so scary about both films, there is a true sense of despair in both of them which is actually ratcheted up in the remake. At one point in both films it feels that the end of humanity is a inevitability, such is the threat of the creature. Now in the original, the Blob looks like nothing more than an ever reddening batch of jello and it’s still terrifying. Thanks to the advanced special effects (And a reported $19 million dollar budget) afforded the remake, the creature is more of a sentient, sinuous, tentacled terror. A creature that actively hunts it’s prey down in a most terrifying manner (It even eats flies for Christ’s sake). Nothing and no one can escape it slimy tendrils!
Now as much as I have been calling this a “Remake” it’s more of a “Re-Imagining”. I say this because the script modernizes the origins of the creature making it more than just something that crash landed on Earth. I will say no more but I will say that not only does the “Re-invention” of it’s origins make the film far more exciting, they make sense in a twisted sort of way. I thought what scriptwriters Russell & Frank Darabont (“The Mist”) came up with was both novel & inspired here. The film feels natural & the script features some inspired laughs to go along with all of the scares as well. Best of all, neither Russell nor Darabont were afraid to kill off whomever they damn well pleased in their script! For my money, whether good or bad, any film that kills off kids gets some respect from me. Happily “The Blob” kills off a kid or two & I just love that sh*t, especially when they’re whiny little brats…I hate whiny little brats so much. Due to the way it kills people there are some inspired ones in this film that surprise & revolt at the same time & like I said earlier, lots of people bite the big one in this movie. The films revels in the originality of each kill and tries to top it in the next scene. And it also recreates the famed “Theater” scene from the original (In a much more gruesome manner of course).
“The Blob” featured no CGI effects in it either. It’s uses front & rear projection, miniatures and practical effects to get it point across and although some of it looks kinda hokey now it was top of the line back in 89′ and still manages to look pretty good most of the time today. The performances are all pretty good except for the two leads though. I thought Dillon tried too hard to be the “Bad Boy” and Smith (While an effective screamer) just seems to bug her eyes out of her head for most of her scenes. But they really don’t detract from the overall effectiveness of everyone else in their roles. But the true star of the film is the titular menace and it does not disappoint in the least! The creature is just a bad ass motherf*cker who just wants to eat and grow until there is nothing left. But it does have one weakness…
Both films end similarly. The original ends with a giant “?” asking if the creature is really dead. This one ends with a crazed reverend (Del Close) who sees the beast as part of a “Prophecy” and believes it’s here because god sent it, he manages to save a surprise for the audience at the very end. Neither film has a truly “Happy” ending though and that’s refreshing in both instances. Who says we always have to triumph in the end huh? Why can’t we keep looking over our collective shoulders even when we’re sure that the menace has been eradicated? I love endings like this!
Sadly the creators of the “Re-Imagining” couldn’t figure out a way to include the goofy theme song from the original here. It would’ve been fun to have heard it coming out of a radio somewhere in the film. There were rumors going round that Rob Zombie was looking to “Re-Imagine” this film once again and while they have remained just that I think he might make a pretty good movie if he tries his hand at it. His sensibilities seem to fit right into making a movie about something that just wants to eat us all without remorse or fear. Put Sid Haig and Bill Mosely in it (Again) and I’ll be first in line at the box office to see it, wouldn’t you wanna see his take on it?
Sadly the film tanked at the box office and no sequel was ever produced but there was a sequel of sorts to the original directed by Larry Hagman of all people called “Beware The Blob” that was released in 1972. It was more of a comedic take on the creature than anything else but it still managed to unnerve me as it was essentially unstoppable and it too managed to avoid a “Happy” ending as well. “The Blob”(1989) gets a 4 1/2 out of 5 shroud rating from me. It still scares the living sh*t outta me to this day and the twists that this film takes that differ from the original make it all the more terrifying and oddly enough…plausible. A seriously fun and scary time at the movies folks, if you haven’t seen either of them yet, what the f*ck are ya waiting for?
The Blob (1988)