Original release: August 5th, 1988
Running time: 95 minutes
Director: Chuck Russell
Writers: Chuck Russell, Frank Darabont
Cast: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Billy Beck, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark
The unknown has always unnerved me. The feeling that there are creatures and life forces in the world and universe that we are yet to discover makes me uneasy.
At least with a killer in a mask you can expect what’s going to happen and have some sort of understanding of the attack. With the unknown you don’t know what it is or how to defeat it and before you know it you are meeting your demise.
I used to be very hyperactive as a child, and my older cousins used to let me watch horror films as a way of keeping me quiet. As soon as they pressed play on the VHS machine and the titles began I was totally mesmerised, especially by the second horror film I’d ever seen, Chuck Russell’s 1988 cult classic, The Blob.
A meteorite crashes on the outskirts of Arborville, California. An elderly man (Billy Beck) discovers the sphere, where an unidentified jelly-like substance (the blob) seeps out of it. When the man pokes it with a stick, it attaches itself to his hand. In pain he stumbles for help where three teenagers, Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon), Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) and Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch) take him to a hospital.
Brian sets out to investigate what the substance is so that the doctors can get a better understanding of it. Paul checks on the man and is disturbed to see that the bottom half of his body has melted. He screams for help, the blob (which is now on the ceiling) devours him, and begins to grow as Meg tries to save Paul, pulling off his arm in the process. As she is knocked unconscious, the blob oozes out of the hospital and begins to consume the population of the town.
Will Brian and Meg be able to warn the town of the dangers of the blob before they all become fodder, and why is the government so intent on preserving it? Either way, the blob is seemingly unstoppable, growing in mass proportions.
Russell, who had previously directed and co-written A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) with Frank Darabont (who later gained recognition for directing The Shawshank Redemption, 1994 and The Green Mile, 1999) contributed towards the then popular Hollywood trend of creating big budget remakes of 1950s low budget sci-fi films, following Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) staring Donald Sutherland and David Cronenberg’s retelling of The Fly (1986).
This remake of Irvin Yeaworth’s cheesy 1950’s drive-in B-movie of the same name, originally staring Steve McQueen, is one of the greatest examples of how a film should be remade. It expands and improves upon the ideas portrayed in the original. Instead of the basic idea of a mysterious jam coloured entity coming from the skies, Russell and Darabont provide a background to the blob for the audience, which acted as an anti-government message with regards to the arms race of the then Cold War. It also highlights the dangers of biological warfare, which could entirely destroy the world.
With a film like this you expect one element: the carnage and gore. The Blob certainly meets these expectations. For the duration of the film people are killed in very brutal methods, from a very naive woman hiding in a glass telephone booth, two lovebirds bringing a whole new meaning to making out and a man being pulled down a kitchen sink, head first through the drainage pipes.
Instead of simply showing the blob-eating people we are subjected to watching them dissolve inside it too. The carnage of course mirrors the gore; explosions, destroyed buildings and the theatre attack scene is reminiscent of the original but expands creating full scale chaos as the theatre-goers try to escape.
That’s why the film worked for me. Besides all the chaos it hasn’t lost the camp feel of what made films of the 1950’s popular. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is almost quite comedic. On the other hand, it changed the perception of what to expect. With the original you knew who was going to survive, and this remake threw all the expectations out of the window. Paul for example is seemingly the hero of the film but unexpectedly dies early on so you are aware that no character is safe. It also breaks the taboo rule of killing a child, showing one half consumed minor reaching for help before the blob pulls him back beneath the water.
The Blob wasn’t successful at the box office but has generated a cult status over the years. I’d tell you all to go and buy the DVD now but sadly it’s never been released on region 2. I’ll have to make do with my VHS for the time being.
After watching The Blob at the age of six, I loved it but didn’t eat jelly for a while. I didn’t trust it. 24 years after its release it’s more amusing than ever before. But the idea that there’s something lurking out there or being created in a lab terrifies me. Put me up against Ghostface any day. Or no killer/mutants at all if possible. Get stuck into The Blob.
Jamie, editor for Cult Movies at Static Mass, is a 24 year old media studies graduate from Sheffield, who likes nothing better than watching films. If he was to star in a horror film he’d like to be the first one killed (think Drew Barrymore in Scream).
He has a keen interest in horror which started when he was a child. Due to his hyperactive behaviour his cousins made him watch films they thought would calm him down- They were wrong! It was watching Hellraiser and Killer Klowns from Outer Space that his passion for horror began. Over the years this developed into a passion for zombies, madmen, mutated animals and all things gore.
When he’s not working, in his dream world, worrying about zombie epidemics or watching films, he can be found on Twitter sharing his thoughts and bringing his dream world into reality.
You can follow Jamie on Twitter @JamieSuckley.