So once again we have survived.

The Blob (1958)

tn_theblobIn THE BLOB Steve McQueen plays “Steve” and he’s supposed to be a teen. But he was actually 28 and looked about the same age as he did in THE GREAT ESCAPE. Therefore I don’t think there’s anything unreasonable about leaping to the conclusion that he was re-enacting true events that had happened to him for real. The Young Steve McQueen Chronicles. None of this is included in his biography and some of what happens here (like his father being a store owner) don’t jibe with the established facts. But what importance do the details have when there is an essential truth at work here, the truth that a teenaged Steve McQueen sighted, tracked, battled and helped defeat The Blob? In a sense, this is BATMAN BEGINS to Steve McQueen’s life.

mp_theblobYoung Steve is already good at driving fast – his harrowing chase after the meteor de-crowns the local drag racing king and pre-sages BULLITT and LE MANS. There’s no evidence that he’s picked up motorcycles yet. One new fact we learn about McQueen is his code of honesty. He’s constantly flaunting his record of truth, and his father has such faith in it that he knows Steve isn’t lying about monsters. But the authorities for the most part never believe him, they think he’s trying to make a fool out of them.

Despite the autobiographical docudrama realism, THE BLOB is a goofy movie. Pretty much whenever there’s a parody of a ’50s drive-in type movie it’s always based on this: the teens making out in a car who see a meteor or UFO, the old redneck who sees something from space and pokes it with a stick, the cops not believing the teens. In fact, I recently watched NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and the opening of that (although in black and white, and this is in color) is basically THE BLOB.

And people laugh at this movie, saying the Blob is just red Jello. That’s bullshit. The Blob is red jelly from a donut. I think in the context of the time and this type of movie the effects are actually pretty great and, at least before it gets real huge, pretty disturbing. When it first gets on the old man’s hand it’s like a big wad of convulsing, oozing pus. Later, when it’s a small Blob, say, the size of a dog, its movements remind me of the T-1000. I can imagine the digital effects they’d use for that today, and I don’t think they’d look more real. Admittedly, when they start squeezing jelly through miniature models it gets more laughable, but still. Give them some credit.

One question: is The Blob an entity from space, or is it the guy who touched the entity from space? Did it eat that poor sucker or just cause him to grow? If the man grew, does it retain his consciousness? Is The Blob really that old man with a real bad infection, and he’s trying to get home? Or looking for his dog? Or lashing out against the town where everybody knows everybody by name except him, the place he must’ve wanted to turn his back on when he moved out to the sticks?

Hell, even if it’s an alien mind, is it intelligent? Is it soulful? Do Blobs dream? Do they cry? Do they love?

But back to the guy. As silly as people remember this it’s gotta be one of the earlier examples of “body horror.” The guy has this thing on him and it won’t stop growing. It could be in a Cronenberg movie. Later on it’s just a delicious strawberry or raspberry flavored monster, but in the beginning it’s a disgusting parasite.

And since it all begins at the makeout spot you could almost read it as symbolic of a venereal disease, or a “social disease” as young Steve would probly say. Or it could be anti-sex altogether, like all the sex=death slasher movies that came years later. Except it’s not the necking teens who get blobbed, it’s the old man with the little dog, and who knows how much he’s getting. Not much would be my first guess. Not any would be my second. And my first guess is charitable.

So now that I think about it I believe THE BLOB is sex positive. The heroes are a young, attractive couple who sneak out at night (read: sexually active) and the villain has no visible genitalia. This is especially important if The Blob is in fact the being from outer space and not what’s left of old meteor-poker. It’s certainly possible that there are girl Blobs, and that this one is running rampant just to impress some girl back home. Maybe she broke his heart and in a grand gesture he hurled himself into space on a meteor to be far away from the memories, like a young man joining the military or the peace corps to escape the memory of a lost love. But the bigger he grows (the Blob moreso than the young man) the more he hurts.

That could be it, that could be what’s going on here, but it’s all speculation. So until there’s more evidence available, like a BRIDE OF THE BLOB or DAUGHTER OF THE BLOB type sequel, I guess I’m gonna have to assume they’re asexual.

If you like old campy movies like this you should check it out. Pretty silly, lots of talking, but still fun, and enlightening about McQueen’s early adventures. The people have a right to know.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 at 5:41 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “The Blob (1958)”

  1. One Guy From Andromeda

    November 10th, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    The heroes’ genitalia are visible in this? Gotta watch it again…

    On a side note: The title song (and title sequence thinking of it) are amazing in this one.

  2. I never thought of it like that Vern. I’m going to go with the alien being in command, but the idea of victims imposing their own psyche on the blob is an unexplored area the new one could go.

    Holy shit, you just solved the crisis Rob Zombie was having: How to make the blob into a crazy, cursing redneck with a beard. Duh! It lands on some yokel (Bill Moseley) that jerks off to violent pornograph and tosses around phrases about skull-fucking, so that way when he get eaten by the monster, it starts talking about the same thing. Genius!

  3. “the idea of victims imposing their own psyche on the blob is an unexplored area the new one could go.”

    That seems rather similar to The Thing. Of course The Thing just mimicked their physical attributes. There’s something else I’m over looking that did something like that with the psyche but I’m beating my head against the wall trying to think of what it was. I’ll have to get back to you. (Unless you were talking about unexplored in the existing The Blob remake, in which case that makes me the asshole)

    In any case, i do think it’s an interesting idea that could be expanded on to great effect.

    *Stops beating head against the wall*

    I REMEMBER NOW!!! It was Terminator 2! Although the T-1000 didn’t absorb their psyche, it just aped their personality so nevermind what I said earlier.

  4. I liked THE BLOB original. The FX maybe then high tech* if cheesy to poke apart, but Vern you’re absolutely right about the biological terror implications.

    If zombies eat you, they shread your body like beef jerky. The blob just consumes and leaves nothing left of you. You never existed.

    Anyway, Steve McQueen really shines here. I’m sure some Hollywood guys back in the day saw this and realized he was more charismatic and fucking better than this bullshit he’s having to swing with a serious face. He really stands out when most such actors in such pictures…well they don’t.

    Vern – Can’t wait for your thoughts on the remake. Which I kinda like more.

    *=Off-topic, but New Yorker claims AVATAR cost $500 million ultimately. I cry bullshit, but who knows?

  5. There was the scene in the remake where the blob gets the little brother that broke my heart when I saw it as a kid. I immediately thought of my little brother getting killed in front of me so it definitely made it’s impact.

    I haven’t seen either one in so long. I know they have the remake on Hulu or Crackle but I’ve never got around to watching it. I should though because Chuck Russell + Frank Darabont = Cool ass movie.

  6. “The Thing just mimicked their physical attributes”

    Actually it perfectly copied their personality as well, thats why they had to burn each others blood n stuff. its all very scientific.

  7. RRA- I know you don’t read chud but Devin wrote a long piece in which he broke down exactly why that 500 number is bullshit. So did Dave Poland and Drew McWeeny. So…yeah.

    I actuall just remembered that the Simpsons made fun of this movie with one of their Treehouse of Horrors, where Homer ate the thing and turned into the blob. So that alley may be closed.

  8. dieselboy – You’re right. That was basically the whole point of the movie. I’m an idiot.

  9. Brendan – And he would be absolutely correct. Way to go Devin, you showed me up. You made me look like an asshole. Attaboy!

    I mean what exactly does “Cameron’s financial contributions” mean anyway? Unless he funded a forty foot cyborg hooker, 500 is a baffling number. At worst, maybe half production/half marketing since Fox will need to bet big with the PR shit so AVATAR could break even.

    hamslime – The remake is now on YouTube. And yes the little kid getting eaten was fucked up. Good shit. Same when the guy gets sucked (literally) down the drain.

    Though honestly what has stuck with me over the years was the ending. It comes so out of nowhere, and just adds another level to a brutal little movie of a campy original.

  10. In the sequel BEWARE! THE BLOB he eats some dope-smoking hippies, so I guess his views on recreational drug use aren’t as enlightened.

  11. Actually now that I think about it the sequel is sometimes referred to as SON OF THE BLOB, so it might be more of a case of a child of liberal parents rebelling by going ultra-conservative. I think he tries to eat a couple of necking teens in that one too.

  12. I’m sure there’s a person or two here who remembers The Stuff. (Another movie I haven’t seen in forever) That one affected me in a similar fashion as The Blob remake but it was the parents turning on their kid. What is it about movies featuring lipid monsters that makes me imagine the worst about my family?

    I bet someone makes a movie about a glob of pus that deals with matricide.

  13. hamslime – I have. Good Larry Cohen effort, and parodying rather well the marketing ad campaign you would have expected from the early 1980s. Clever really.

    Moriarty is good, the kid stuff is good, their team-up is good along with the hunt for the source of The STuff. The black market ending is great.

    The only flaw as far as I remember, is Paul Sorvino as the ultra right wing militia psychopath. Felt like Cohen figured that cliche making fun of communist paranoia would let him end the movie quicker.

    Poor Chocolate Chip Charlie.

  14. Wow, still working the Halloween request lines, I see. Thanks for this one.

    Yeah, the rest of McQueen’s body-of-work autobiography takes on bitter, ironic shades once you’ve seen how he saved the world from becoming donut jelly in his first time at bat. Freeze a blob, end up on Devil’s Island (PAPILLON)? No good deed goes unpunished, I see.

    Do you think girl blobs are blue? In a reverse infant gender color stereotyping scheme? What about blobs who are expecting but don’t want to know the gender of their, um, offspring? What color do they paint their nurseries?

    And regarding the appetite of the BEWARE! THE BLOB antagonist…I swear s/he is more loathesome simply by virtue of being a damn neo-conservative. Not only eating hippies, but the family cat (anti-PETA), a black pipeline worker (racist AND anti-working class), a bowling alley employee (anti-global). Man, I hate this blob. FUCK this fuckin’ blob. When they were done filming, I bet Bill O’Reilly kept it in his freezer as a pet.

  15. What about STARSHIP TROOPERS where the brain bugs sucked out people’s brains and gained all their knowledge? I always wondered how the information stayed intact while the brain got jumbled up. How would a Blob retain somebody’s personality while it dissolved him? The Thing could keep its new body’s personality because it invaded the person at a cellular level from the inside (I guess).

    On a lamer note, there’s also the “monster” (mutated people all stuck together??) in LEVIATHAN. God that movie sucked. Poor Peter Weller. BUCKAROO BANZAI, ROBOCOP, and then that crap.

  16. The Stuff is a pretty cool movie, Vern should review that

    can’t get enough, of The Stuff!

  17. Ahh , The Blob!! This one is really close to my heart because of the concept , and you’re right Vern , it never crossed my mind that maybe this is the first bady-horror movie , the father of Cronenberg-style films . And if you consider the sexual angle this is even more true . The Blob is also the grandaddy of Brian Yuzna’s Society , really a Blob with Cronenberg sexual undertones . But I also love the Blob because is the direct inspiration of CALTIKI The Immortal Monster , the only Italian giant monster movie . I’m a big fan of Godzilla and kaiju movies , so for me CALTIKI is really a must . I think is entirely available on Youtube , so , if you plan to see a bunch of Blob-like movies I highly recommend that , and , of course I would love to hear your opinion on Son of Blob , the remake and Society !

  18. Heeheeheeheeheeheehee, awesome review, awesomely bad film. Although it does let itself down at the end with The King Of Stupid Movie Monster Weaknesses. That’s right, the Blob’s one weakness is… are you ready for this…? FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. Motherf–king FIRE EXTINGUISHERS!!!

    Things didn’t get that stupid again until M. Night Shyamalan gave us aliens who were deathly allergic to water. (Good job they didn’t land over in the UK where I live, with our weather they wouldn’t make it through the first day!)

  19. I said it here several times before, but apart from the usual flaws that are to find in every movie of that time (Wooden acting, bizarre plotholes…), it still holds up very well.
    Don’t know if I said THIS before, but I remember how I watched it for the first time. I expected a typical cheesefest that I could laugh at, but I suddenly found myself pretty engaged with the story and even thought the the finale offered a good amount of suspense. It’s one of my favourites, also because I can’t imagine a more gruesome way to die than being digested alive by a giant drop of slime. If any kind of monster/killer gets you, you still have a chance to beat an ashtray or something on his head and run away, but the Blob just sticks on you. You try to wipe it away? Oops, your other hand is stuck in it too! It’s all over your body and you try to scream? Oops, it’s getting down your troat, filling your lungs and stomach with it and starts to dissolve you from the inside too!
    Yeah, it’s a surprisingly gruesome concept, if you think of it. (And we can thank Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont that they showed us the full cruelness of it several decades years later.)

  20. Paul – Actually, I think the Blob’s fatal weakness makes perfect sense. At least in a pseudo-scientific movie bullshit fashion.

  21. RRA – yeah, ok, but when it comes to pseudo-science in films, I prefer the incredible exploding helicopter in Seagal’s “exit wounds” (hit it with one bullet somewhere on the outside of the door, and the entire helicopter blows up). Or the explosions in space. Or of course the cellular-level infiltration with added tentacles in “The Thing”, since someone mentioned it already. This just doesn’t have the whole “awesome factor”.

  22. Mostly what I remember about this movie is the theme song, written by a young Burt Bacharach. Once you are exposed to it, it is every bit as insidious and inescapable as the Blob itself, though arguably not as delicious.

    From memory: “Beware of the Blob!/It sweeps, it creeps/It glides and slides along the floor/And through the door/And all along the wall/A splotch, a blotch/ Be careful of the Blob/Beware of the Blob!”

    And repeat until your brain explodes!

  23. The one thing The Blob is missing is a beard. Good thing Rob Zombie is planning to fix that.

  24. The way how Zombie’s statement about his Blob remake (which from what I’ve heard isn’t even gonna happen that soon) is misinterpreted still surprises me. All he said was that it won’t be the same red jello from the original movie. (Without putting Zombie in the same league as David Cronenberg, but) I would like to know what would have happened if Cronenberg’s remake of “The Fly” would have been made during the age of the internet. After Cronenberg had announced that his fly won’t be the same man with the head of a fly from the original movie, people would have torn it apart, without even knowing what the fuck he is up to! (And don’t come up with something like “But Cronenberg is a so much better filmmaker than Zombie will ever be!” That might be true, but not just since the “Avatar is the worst film ever because the aliens are blue which is the same colour that the Smurfs are”-movement, we know that the internet folks don’t give a shit about who they are ripping apart.)

  25. The same deal with The Thing. “The Thing has an asparagus for a head not a William Shatner mask! Carpenter has lost it!” [Incorporate your own misspellings as you see fit.]

  26. I can’t remember the name of the Toho Company’s blob movie (though I’ve heard it approaches awesomeness), but “The Quatermass Experiment” (or “Xperiment”, since it was rated X in Britain at the time) is another classic from the fifties.

    Also, “The Creeping Unknown”, if I recall correctly. (Though that may be the Quatermass Expy released for America… I forget.)

    I much prefer the remake to the Blob — it seemed like Vern has never heard of its existence!? That’s a wildly great movie!–verging on the same level of greatness as the remakes for “The Fly” and “The Thing” in its own way.

  27. I would put The Blob remake in the same class as Tremors: a fun, well-made monster movie. I don’t think there’s enough going on thematically or filmatistically to put it on the same level as The Fly or The Thing, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Man, remember when remaking old movies was actually a good idea?

  28. I watched THE GREAT ESCAPE again over the weekend. How come McQueen and Coburn when captured are just taken back to the camp, while all the captured british guys are rounded up and shot? And I doubt that all of them caused as much trouble by prompting massive cross-country bike chases, or stealing airplanes and crashing them just shy of the alps. Did the Nazis just not give a shit after they got the secrets of dinosaur cloning out of Richard Attenborough or what?

  29. I’m no history expert, but I believe that the Brits, having been in the war for so much longer and having endured so much more suffering at the hands of the Nazis, were much harder on German prisoners than the Americans were, so it was probably a revenge thing. There was a lot of bad blood between the British and German armies at that point, while many German soldiers thought that the Americans were pussies since they had sat out so much of the war. In fact, when Audie Murphy did his heroic deeds, the Germans were convinced that he was actually British because they didn’t think an American could be that hardcore.

  30. Mr. Majestyk – No offense to Germans, and our buddy CJ Holden, but if that “pussy” is true, then they really didn’t learn anything from Alvin York.

    Unless they thought he was a backwoods British hick too. Who looked like Gary Cooper.

  31. I can understand where they were coming from. Imagine that you’re a battle-hardened vet. You’ve been in the shit for years, and then all of a sudden these chumps touch down with their clean clothes and boots with no holes in them. You’d think they were pussies, too. The new guy always has to take shit before he pays his dues.

  32. Majestyk-I’m just kidding around. The real reason is because that in reality, while there were american prisoners at the camp who had helped in the escape plans, they were actually moved out of the camp before the actual escape was put into practice, so no americans escaped, so none were recaptured and executed. It’s just funny/annoying that the film-makers kept the execution bit accurate, but didn’t have a problem with Coburn and McQueen going all Indiana Jones on the Nazis (and living). Maybe they’d fix that if they ever remade it.

  33. Then they could add the historically accurate sexy female soldier who knows kickboxing.

  34. Stu – I’m pretty sure Steve Mcqueen’s contract made sure he survived. Same with Coburn. Both were major movie stars at that time. Bronson survived too, right? I can’t remember.

    Anyway speaking of Hollywoodization of true badass stories, look at John Huston’s VICTORY sometime. From Soviet POWs defying Nazi orders to job by winning their football game and getting executed…to Pele, Jack Carter, and Rocky Balboa defying Nazis in Paris* and all able to escape in the post-game mayhem.

    *=Those Nazi game organizers should have picked a better location. More eastern, maybe across the Rhine River would have been smarter. Most of been the same dopes who booked that Parisian theatre premiere in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.

  35. Stu – Off-topic, but you ever saw that sequel they produced in the 80s? Weird how Donald Pleasance goes from dead British POW in #1, to Nazi villain in #2.

    Also beckons on the WALKING TALL series, also “based” on a true tale. In fact unless I’m wrong, when he got blown up Buford Pusser was supposed to play himself in TALL #3. Which later got rewritten to incorporate that fate.

  36. RRA- I dunno if the contract stipulated that they survived, but I think I read that McQueen insisted on the scene with the bike chase. And Bronson was playing a Polish guy, so it’s not so bad. Also, turns out I meant to say Garner as the one stole the plane, not Coburn. Though Coburn deserves singling out for that attempt at an australian accent. And speaking of Audie Murphy earlier, he apparently insisted the movie about his time in the army be rewritten to tone down the stuff he DID actually do, because he thought people would find it unrealistic. I mean, have you read how he got the Medal of Honour?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audie_Murphy#Medal_of_Honor_citation

  37. Oh, and I’ve never watched the sequal. I’ve flipped past it while channel surfing, but not seen a lot of it.

  38. He did all that shit with malaria, by the way. I have trouble going grocery shopping when I’m hungover.

  39. Stu – Yeah Mcqueen was a motorhead. So was James Garner (GRAND PRIX, ROCKFORD FILES) until that bad accident fucked him up and got ROCKFORD cancelled.

    Audie Murphy was the real deal bad mother fucker.

    I would love someone to tackle him in a new movie and incorporate his impoverished Texas upbringing, his insane war escapades, his B-movie stardom*, and even a successful country music performer.

    Or when he beat his painkiller pill addiction by quitting cold turkey locked up in a motel room for a week. And even going public in his own experience with PTSD.

    *=Cracked.com revealed a fact that surprised me: His TO HELL & BACK was Universal’s biggest hit until JAWS. 20-plus years later. Also Murphy was a surprisingly good actor.

  40. Cracked.com also revealed that he was a tiny little man. Seth Green should play him. As a slightly-below-average-height gentleman, I would like to see a smallish Caucasian kicking above-average amounts of ass.

  41. It would certainly give Green a great typecast-breaking opportunity.

    And I’m sure he would mock all that and himself in ROBOT CHICKEN. Free publicity is what I call it.

  42. Cracked is my favorite location for crazy factoids that I would never know about or care about otherwise. So it holds a special place in my heart.

  43. And to think, Cracked the magazine was one of the lamest, most unfunny creations in the history of mankind.

  44. Mr. Majestyk – That phrase “a smallish Caucasian kicking above-average amounts of ass” is a close second to the awesome tagline for CHOCOLATE: “A special needs girl with a special need to kick some ass.” I’ll totally be there for MAJESTYK: THE MOVIE.

    RRA: If the wretched trailer for that upcoming film with Travolta, Robin Williams and Seth Green is any indication of the movie itself, Green owes me one serious bit of self-mockery.

  45. Jareth – Considering Green on ROBOT CHICKEN made fun of his IDLE HANDS…he’ll get around to it. He’s cool in that sort of way.

    Fun fact about OLD DOGS: Features the last film appearance of Bernie Mac. He died shortly he did his scene.

  46. I like Idle Hands. Not a lot, but its a fun goofy little movie.

  47. This is a childhood favorite. I’ve always loved this one and thankfully it’s in the Criterion Collection so that aids me when I try and convince people this movie is actually pretty entertaining and not nearly as bad/cheesy as it’s reputation says it is. It’s in the Criterion Collection so therefore it’s art!

    -Just recently watched what people have been calling the Japanese version of The Blob, ‘The H-Man’. It’s not like The Blob very much at all as a matter of fact. But that’s a good one too (I’m a big fan/sucker for Japanese sci-fi/fantasy/monster movies so your mileage may vary.).

  48. Also I only saw the sequel once. On TV years and years ago. That one was a pain to find when I was younger. Thanks to DVD & the internet I have no excuse anymore…

    I remember liking it but I remember liking an awful lot of not-very-good-stuff when I was younger…
    -remember revisiting Return of the Living Dead, Part II, the nightmares and shame will not go away…

  49. do blobs dream of electric sheep?

  50. I think blobs dream of porking this month’s Playgel cover girl.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>