I’ll admit it right now: I’ve never seen the original 1958 film of The Blob, largely because I’ve never been much enthused about Fifties horror. I’ve also never gotten the appeal of Steve McQueen (with the exception of Papillon). Which means it’s probably good for me to review the 1988 remake of The Blob, because I won’t get all screechy about a classic being defiled, which is what I recall the reaction being at the time the remake was in theaters.
A nice opening montage sets the scene, a down-on-its-luck ski town, and introduces us to the lead characters, none of whose names I can recall. There’s the Not-So-Dumb Jock (Donovan Leitch, son of the guy who sang “Mellow Yellow”), the Toothy Cheerleader Gal (Shawnee Smith, who would go on to wear a reverse bear trap on her face in Saw) and the Rebel Without A Clue (the extremely annoying Kevin Dillon). One fateful night a meteorite crashes in the woods. First on the scene is the town’s resident Old Hermit Dude, who examines the meteor by poking at it with a big stick. And faster than you can say “Meteor shit!” the Hermit Dude finds himself with a gelatinous, carnivorous blob on his hand. Hermit Dude stumbles into the road where he’s nearly run over by Not-So-Dumb Jock and Toothy Cheerleader Gal – soon joined by Rebel Without A Clue, they take Hermit Dude to the hospital where the blob finds lots of tasty humans to snack on.
I’ll give The Blob some credit – it’s not a total by-the-numbers retread. There are a number of surprising deaths, both in who dies and how (of course, now that I’ve mentioned this it won’t be nearly as surprising for you, and isn’t that a cruel irony?). Even scenes that seem like they’ll be completely predictable, such as the kitchen sink scene, play out in unexpected ways. The cast is good and believable, and if you’re a fan of genre films and character actors you’ll find yourself saying, “Wait! It’s that guy who was in that thing!” a lot. Familiar faces include Candy Clark (Man Who Fell to Earth), Paul McCrane (Fame, Shawshank Redemption, Robocop), and Jack Nance (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks).
The effects are good as well – especially considering that this was pre-CGI. Unlike its predecessor, which in the clips I’ve seen seems to just amble about, this blob is fast, smart, and sneaky. It slithers on the ceiling, sends out tentacles, implodes phone booths, swats one poor guy like a fly, and sometimes leaves nasty half-dissolved corpses behind. I recall much hue and cry about the gore back when the film was in theaters, but it won’t bother anyone who’s seen Carpenter’s The Thing.
Sadly, The Blob becomes pretty pedestrian in its last third. It doesn’t help that the original film has become such a part of our pop culture that even if you haven’t seen it, you know they contain the blob by freezing it. That same device is used here, and it’s hard not to spend the last third of the movie wondering why they don’t find a way to freeze the darn thing. Worse still, the climactic freezing scene is not only very implausible, it’s accompanied by twinkly Christmas music that sounds like an Edward Scissorhands reject. The effects in the end scenes are shaky as well, with some very obvious blue screen work. And then there’s the twisty final scene, which falls totally flat.
In the end, what could have been a superior B movie is only an above-average B movie. Still, you could do a lot worse if you’re channel surfing and happen upon The Blob. I’d recommend watching it with a couple of alcoholic beverages on hand (though you may want to avoid jello shooters).
The DVD is a bare-bones affair, with a so-so transfer and the only extras being trailers – one for The Blob, and one each for John Carpenter’s Vampires and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. No, I don’t know why they picked those movies either.