The Birthday Series – The Blob (1988)

The Blob TITLE Well, here we are again. I was a wee child of 10 when this movie came out, and I can safely say it was not on my radar. In fact, I’ve never see this one before now. Basically because it seemed a bit shit. But rules are rules, and this series has demanded that I watch it. So here goes nothing…

The Blob poster In the 50’s there were a spate of horror films that were otherwise thinly veiled stories alluding to the Cold War, the dangers of nuclear weapons or Russian spies infiltrating the home of the brave, the land of the free, and all that jingoistic bollocks. Somewhere in the midst of these political allegories, a schlocky horror movie starring a young Steve McQueen was released. This film was called ‘The Blob’, about a gelatinous (yep, you guessed it) blob from outer space that crashed to earth and proceeded to slink it’s way around town devouring all who would happen to stop and patiently wait for it to blob it’s way over to them and feast on their screaming carcass. Years later, the film was primarily known because Steve McQueen became a huge star. And to capitalise on the fact that people recognised the evocative title, the powers that be decided to remake it in the late 80’s.

The Blob 1 In the woods near a sleepy backwater town of Arborville (why do these things always seem to happen in small rural towns?) a meteorite crashes to earth. The town drunk witnesses the incident and investigates. The meteorite has cracked open and a pink, gelatinous substance is oozing out. Using the kind of sense and expertise one usually associates with the town drunk, he pokes it with a stick. Obviously pink, gelatinous substances from outer space don’t like to be poked by sticks, because it becomes enraged and attaches itself to his hand. Local bad boy Brian (an impressively mulleted Kevin Dillon) encounters the old man running screaming through the woods, and gives chase, but the drunk is hit by a car carrying Lance (Donovan Leitch) and Meg (Shawnee Smith), local high school kids on their first date. All three kids take the old man to the local hospital, but when Lance goes in to check on him he sees the old man has been devoured from the chest down. The Blob from outer space is feeding, and it is growing at an exponential rate!

The Blob 2 This is an inherently silly movie, and it’s strongest asset is that’s it’s made in exactly the right tone. Director Chuck Russell and writers Russell and Frank Darabont understand the premise is preposterous, and play it tongue in cheek. There’s a sense of humour running throughout the film, as in a scene that has fun with a sleazy kids efforts to cop a feel, or when the blob (giant by this time) pancakes a poor townsperson who unfortunately stumbles at the wrong moment. The highlights of the film are definitely the impressively gruesome kills. The Blob has the uncanny ability to suck humans through portals much too small, as when a kitchenhand gets pulled head first down the sink, or a deputy is broken in half and sucked out of small hole in a barricaded door. It’s funny stuff, and there were many moments where I was laughing out loud.

The Blob 3 Russell and Darabont also add to the story of The Blobs origins, making it slightly more than simply “It came from outer space!”, and in turn adds a second villain (and more cannon fodder) to the mix. It’s always a good moment in these types of horror films when the creature turns on the master, and this one is no exception. There’s also an impressive dedication to the “no one is safe” policy, with an early exit by a character I expected to survive. This added to the fun, because even though you thought you knew who would survive, that early kill allowed a little doubt to creep in.

The Blob 8 The special effects are very impressive, and understandably so. Much of the practical effects were created by Tony Gardner, and are simply superb examples of make-up and practical special effects. Gardner was the person responsible for the effects in ‘Three Kings’ which resulted in him being investigated by the Arizona State Police because they believed he had used a real human cadaver to capture the close up shots of a bullet entering the body. The visual effects are equally impressive for the time. These were handled by Hoyt Yeatman, who won an Academy Award for ‘The Abyss’. The shots of the massive Blob, blobbing down main street and devouring townsfolk is on of the highlights of the film.

The Blob 7 The acting in ‘The Blob’ is nothing special, but at the same time everyone plays their part. Shawnee Smith and Donovon Leitch are the standard young, clean American kids (we know this because she’s a cheerleader and he’s a football star, they’re always the nicest kids in school right?), and Kevin Dillon is the not-so-bad boy who’s spent his life looking out for numero uno. We instantly know that he’s a bad boy because he rides a motorbike, wears a leather jacket and smokes. There are some entertaining hamtastic turns by Joe Seneca as the mad scientist and Del Close as Reverend Meeker, and a young, pre boob job Erika Eleniak turns up briefly to unknowingly exact revenge on the sleazy kid.

The Blob 5 All things considered, I had substantial apprehensions about ‘The Blob’, and can enthusiastically say that those apprehensions were misguided. This is a very entertaining and enjoyable slice of schlock and much better than I ever expected.

two and a half changs

For Droids a jolly good fellow!

2009 – The Collector

2008 – The Midnight Meat Train

2007 – Hot Rod

2006 – Bon Cop Bad Cop

2005 – The Dukes of Hazzard

2004 – The Manchurian Candidate

2003 – Gigli

2002 – Signs

2001 – Rush Hour 2

2000 – Hollow Man

1999 – The Iron Giant

1998 – BASEketball

1997 – In The Company of Men

1996 – Chain Reaction

1995 – Babe

1994 – Clear and Present Danger

1993 – The Fugitive

1992 – Buffy The Vampire Slayer

1991 – Mini-Reviews of Slacker, Young Guns II and Lock Up

Droid

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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

32 responses to “The Birthday Series – The Blob (1988)”

  1. koutchboom says :

    i haven’t seen this in forever but I remember enjoying it a lot.

  2. Jarv says :

    Not the Murphy Biopic then?

    *Ka-CHING*

    So good I reused it.

  3. Bartleby says :

    I was always a fan of shawnee smith. Seemed like she had a slightly more off-kilter presence than other similar actresses. Always disappointed that she got caught up in the SAaw franchise and otherwise virtually disappeared.

    I saw this one back in 88, as a kid, and the odd part is that I think it was back to back with ither Phantasm II or Pumpkinhead. Im still surprised about the things my parents let me watch. I was in fourth grade at the time.

    • Droid says :

      I am surprised. It’s pretty gruesome. I remember Shawnee Smith from The Stand. I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything since. Unless she was in the first Saw movie.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah I don’t think Shawnee is too upset being in the Saw movies. What else was she going to do? Now she’s set for life.

      • Bartleby says :

        she was. she was the addict who survived the jaw device.

        Yes, the blob was gruesome. and really, to some extent, so were phantasm and pumpkinhead. My parents arent realyl sure how it is they just let us see that stuff, but I think at some point they gigured it wouldnt damage us too much. I guess, all in all, it didnt do much, but I remember having regular nightmares at the time.

  4. Bartleby says :

    Something tells me that being a side character in a low budget (albeit successful) horror franchise doesn’t make you ‘set for life’. Koutch, is she even still in these things? I would assume her character kicked the bucket years ago.

    • koutchboom says :

      There’s always the convention circuit. She can at least make enough money off that to put food on her rented apartments table.

      • koutchboom says :

        I think she dies in 4 or 5? Its hard to keep that story straight. Hey maybe she’s got some back end deal on the Saw movies.

        Also she gets to star in tons of shitty D-level horror movies as well, just like Tobin Bell will get to just like Tony Todd/Freddy and Jason have managed to do for the better half of their career.

      • Bartleby says :

        ha! fair enough. and who doesn’t want to share a folding cafeteria table with Lance Henriksen, Tony Todd and Chris Sarandon while grubby geeks keep ‘missing’ your hand to shake your boobs.

      • Bartleby says :

        Bad news Koutch. The Rig is god awful.

        Like, its terrible for even a SYFY style movie. Forsythe looks angry, and the monster is literally like one of those lizard people from Land of the Lost.You dont see it very often.

        It felt like a z-grade movie from the 80s, but not a good one. Like the rip-off of a rip-off of a rip-off. Deep Star Six was better than this. Avoid it.

      • koutchboom says :

        Eh too bad. I was hoping maybe Forsythe would’ve made it more fun.

  5. Continentalop says :

    I take offense to your description of the 50s Blob & Sci-Fi in general. It is easy to make fun of cold war paranoia nowadays, but we just done fighting two wars in less than 20 years, our enemy had spread all over the globe, up until the late 30s the Comitern pushed for Revolution in every country, and now the commies had the technology to wipe us off the map if we weren’t vigilant.

    • Droid says :

      Conti, do you check under your bed every night? You should! There may be a Red under there! hehe

      Anyhoo, I wasn’t really making fun of it (maybe I was being a little facetious). Just saying that in the middle of all the cold war paranoia SF’s there was a goofy film about an alien blob that killed people. No need to take offense.

      • Continentalop says :

        No worries. I was being a little sarcastic.

        But I will say the cold war paranoia gave a lot of those films a depth that a lot of slicker modern movies lacked. Fear of a ever growing red mass that absorbs you there for you lose your identity – what a great metaphor! Something the modern Blob was lacking.

      • koutchboom says :

        Too bad you weren’t around to point that out to Hollywoodland when they were remaking The Day The Earth Stood Still.

      • Droid says :

        Ah, nice one. So what do we make of the colour of the blob in the remake? Does the growing pink mass mean that the homosexual menace is enveloping our society?

  6. Bartleby says :

    I dont think Droid was going for offensiveness (thinly veiled????? how bout not veiled at all????) but just pointing out the context of the original. And he isn’t wrong, although I guess ‘bollocks’ might be looking down on them.

    Thing is, I do agree that it was relevant to the climate at the time and there are some truly unique and interesting films that came out of the time.

    Personally, on a pure enjoyment level, I think the original Blob is a better movie than the newer one. Yes, the 80s one has more gore and sex, but the blob is far more typical. There’s something odd and unsettlingly absurd about the blob in the first picture, and that context makes it the ultimate ‘adults dont listen to the smart kids’ monster movie.

  7. Tom_Bando says :

    Shawnee Smith is fun.

    I liked her in Armageddon:

    Shawnee: He gave me a great big, shiny diamond.

    Buscemi: See the diamond-?

    Shawnee: Uh huh-

    Buscemi: That’s not a diamond-

    Shawnee: *

    Buscemi: Wanta drink-?

    Shawnee: Yeah-!

  8. ThereWolf says :

    I’ve got this on VHS, haven’t seen it in years. The Blob is good fun and the FX surprisingly effective. And yes, Shawnee gave me a raging stalk-on.

    Good one, Droid. I was thinking about doing the film meself, believe it or not. Coz I think it’s underrated.

    Impressive series, this…

    • Droid says :

      Cheers, Wolf. I agree that it’s underrated, certainly by those that have never seen it, like myself prior to this. I honestly thought it would be absolute garbage. I was completely wrong.

      If I ever get back to Australia, I’m going to dig out my old VHS collection and possibly do a review series based on them. I have some gems in there. Stuff I haven’t seen in a long long time.

      • ThereWolf says :

        I’ve got loads of VHS, stuff I used to tape off the telly years ago, boxes of ’em but no list to tell me what I’ve got – just a vague memory.

        Chuck Russell should take a bow for The Blob. I like what he did with Elm St 3 as well – plus he wrote Dreamscape, which is in the same ball park as Elm St 3.

      • koutchboom says :

        I didn’t care for Dreamscape. Not a fan. Watch it recently didn’t think much of it.

      • Droid says :

        Haven’t seen Elm St 3, nor 4. Might do a (non review) series of that for Halloween.

      • koutchboom says :

        Anyone seen Bless the Child? That looked pretty bad.

      • koutchboom says :

        But Chuck did do The Mask and The Scorpion King. Which for that he’s solid.

        I didn’t watch The Scorpion King tell way after it was out on DVD. It was a lot of dumb fun. Don’t know why people bitched about it. MAYBE if people didn’t hate on it so much we’d still have Action Star The Rock, not fucking ACTOR Dwayne Johnson.

      • ThereWolf says :

        Didn’t likee Scorpion King. The Mask – well, Carrey just doesn’t amuse me, couldn’t get into it.

        I think Elm St 3 is highly entertaining. But 4… naffo. Bored the piss out of me.

      • Droid says :

        I liked The Mask but its been a long time since I’ve seen it. Remember Diaz looking very hot in it though. Didn’t like Scorpion King. Tres boring.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        *Never saw the Scorpion King. No real interest here. Am sure it’s big dumb fun.

        *Not into the Freddy slasher flix.

        *The Mask is one of the very few Jim Carrey flicks I can stand.

      • ThereWolf says :

        Yeh, I think it was Diaz who single-handedly kept me watching The Mask. Otherwise I would’ve been utilising the ‘stop’ button.

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