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The Blob (1988)

tn_theblobremakeThere once was a director named Chuck Russell, who did movies like THE MASK and ERASER. Not very good movies as I remember it, but he seemed like his heart was in the right place. He was trying to have some fun. He also did THE SCORPION KING, which I enjoyed, and then disappeared for the last couple years. But before he became The Occasional Director of Studio B-Movies he was a promising name on the ’80s horror scene. His debut was A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS, the ridiculous but fun one that reinvented the series and gave Freddy his obsession with the word “bitch.” He wrote that one along with future THE MIST director Frank Darabont, who also helped him write movie #2, his remake of THE BLOB.

mp_theblobremakeFor the remake they take the 1958 original and sharpen it like a knife. I’m not saying it’s anywhere near as good as THE THING, but I bet they thought alot about that one when figuring out how to do THE BLOB thirty years later, especially when it comes to the monster. The effects are absolutely outstanding and horrifying. Instead of a slow moving glob it’s a barreling pile of guts with tentacles and acid-like corrosion capabilities. It suffocates people under a giant mucous membrane. You can see them screaming inside as their heads melt and change shape. And in case some fool thinks they don’t mean business Russell and Darabont set up the characters and then before it’s even halfway into the movie they brutally, disgustingly blob out two of the characters who seem most likely to survive. Characters they have gotten you invested in really could die suddenly but painfully. You might not even see them die, you’ll just see their partially digested corpse float by. “Oh, by the way, that one main character is dead. Here, you can identify the body if you want.” This Blob keeps you on your toes.

Like the original there’s a group of teens and there’s some cops who don’t believe them but one is nicer than the others. As is customary in ’80s or ’90s remakes the girl (Shawnee Smith, who’s in all the SAW movies) gets more to do this time. She’s actually the one who witnesses the first Blob killing and tries to convince everybody else what’s happening. Kevin Dillon I think is supposed to be the Steve McQueen rebel type, although not actually based on the “Steve” character of the original. This guy’s a long-haired, leather jacket-wearing juvenile delinquent with a bad attitude and a motorcycle. He also does a motorcycle jump so it might be more stories from Steve McQueen’s youth adapted onto film.

The biggest twist on the story has to do with the government’s reaction to the Blob and their knowledge of where it came from. In the original it’s up to the local cops to defeat the Blob using fire extinguishers stolen from the school. In this version the feds are there immediately in spooky biohazard suits like the guys who went after E.T. And these ones carry more than walkie talkies.

It’s predictable but appropriate that there’s a whole issue with the military wanting the Blob for their own purposes. Kind of a cliche but I mean, just think how much easier Panama or the first Gulf War could’ve gone if they had the Blob. Just drop it off a plane, you don’t even need a parachute. The Blob really would be a great way to commit war crimes.

There’s a real sense of dread in this movie, but also some humor. I think Russell and Darabont are from that same horror-movie-loving generation as Fred Dekker, so they also got the knowing nods that don’t have to be specific references. MONSTER SQUAD had the fake slasher movie called GROUNDHOG DAY, this one has GARDEN TOOL MASSACRE, which a kid describes to a mom: “Well this guy in a hockey mask, he chops up a few teenagers, but don’t worry, there’s no sex or anything bad.”

By the way, with my pre-Halloween viewing this year I noticed a horror cliche I never picked up on before. In this movie a projectionist gets killed. Same thing with the original BLOB. Same thing with POPCORN, CUT and THE MEATEATER. That’s five dead projectionists there, and as far as I remember none of the movies I saw had projectionists that survived. What I’m saying is that it’s a dangerous occupation. Maybe that’s why they’re making everything digital now, they’re trying to make it more automated to protect human life.

The characters are pretty good, if not great. There are some pretty funny, quirky touches, like the sleazy attempted date rapist who has a full bar and seduction kit in the trunk of his car. Man, Steve McQueen liked to make out in his car but he didn’t treat it as a Mission:Impossible. It’s pretty funny how elaborate the cocktail is that this guy mixes. He doesn’t have any TV screens in the car though so I don’t think it’s from PIMP MY RIDE.

The nice cop has some dimension because he’s really nice to the older waitress but a dick to Dillon, so it’s not all black and white. Dillon is kind of dorky with his long hair and tough guy act, but he does get to be the anti-authority character and gets to stick it to the man in a pretty badass move he does at one point. Also he gets to stick it to the Blob.

THE BLOB is no THE THING, but it’s always fun to watch. It’s an underrecognized movie, a real solid ’80s horror-sci-fi picture and a good argument in favor of remakes.

trivia: the reverend (you know, from the crazy NIGHTBREED style ending) is played by Del Close, who is considered one of the founding fathers of modern improv. He also apparently was in BEWARE! THE BLOB.

epilogue: Right after I watched this and was wondering what the hell happened to Chuck Russell I read that he’s working on a 3-D Arabian Nights movie.

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 Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 2:33 am 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 leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

43 Responses to “The Blob (1988)”

  1. Night of the Creeps, The Blob… man, you are reviewing my little cult classics. And you are doing it right.

  2. “THE BLOB is no THE THING, but it’s always fun to watch. It’s an underrecognized movie, a real solid ’80s horror-sci-fi picture and a good argument in favor of remakes.”

    It hasn’t even been put out on DVD here in England which is incredible when you look at some of the horror that does get issued.

    But I picked it up along with From Beyond…and for some reason this remains one of my favourite double bills.

  3. I don’t remember if the projectionist survives but another movie in the “cursed” category is Midnight Movie . I started to think about it after the double review of Popcorn vs. Cut , but I wasn’t able to remember the name . It’s not really a memorable movie , but some elements are fun and well done. First , there’s a real cursed movie-within-the-movie , and at the screening the teather itself is supernaturally closed with all the potential victims inside , giving it a dreamlike/esoteric atmosphere sort of like the Freddy movies ( but not as good ) and a strong cat-and-mouse feel. Then there’s the masked killer , in my opinion very cool looking : a guy with a creepy mask ( half skeleton , half skin or leather ) ,and a fist sized spiral blade/bottle opener weapon. I also think he’s a redneck , but I don’t remember exactly . I didn’t find Midnight Movie in the review list ,Vern , so if you’re still looking for new slashers , this is one with a few funny ideas.

  4. Although ‘Night Of The Comet’ bucks this trend and has the projectionist and friends among the few survivors. And don’t they have sex too.

    Perhaps a more radical horror than I first suspected.

  5. Nice review. If your looking for the DVD in the UK try Cult Fiction movies. They will point you in the right direction.

  6. Mondowray : I’ve re-watched ‘Night Of The Comet’ 2 days ago and , yes , the projectionist dies . They don’t show the projectionist and the female lead having sex ( I think she’s just a worker in the teather , we only see her playing at an arcade machine ) , but the morning after they wake up together : after “sleeping” in the projector room! Nice movie , by the way , in the same spirit as Night of the Creeps , but not in the same league , in my opinion .

  7. SPOILERS

    Shoshanna from Inglourious Basterds – Got shot in the projection booth
    A number of gremlins from Gremlins- Presumably died by fire in the projection booth

    I think you’re on to something, sir. Although no Gremlins died in the booth in Gremlins 2. Hulk Hogan just really scared the crap out of them but the original projectionist got roughed up pretty good.

  8. THE BLOB remake was pretty good.

    I mean lets admit it, who else was shocked when (SPOILER) the kid becomes lunch?

    Great screwy ending too.

  9. And in Demons, all of the projectors were automated, presumably because the instigators of the demonic attack knew that no projectionists would survive.

  10. And of course who can forget the classic sink scene?

  11. Speaking as someone who just quit being a projectionist after 6 years on the job, my fear of being horribly mutilated DEFINATELY influenced my career-change. Also, movie theatres don’t pay their employees shit.

  12. Between this movie and Robocop, I always thought that Paul Crane (the bald sherriff in this one) got two of the best, most disturbing (SPOILER) death scenes from 80’s sci-fi movies. Snapped in half, pulled backwards through a window and dissolved by the Blob, and also getting melted by toxic waste and then splattered over the hood of a 2000 SUX. You don’t see that much anymore.

  13. *Paul MCCrane

  14. His death in Robocop was the goriest thing I’d ever seen at the time. I was nine years old and Robocop was the first R-rated movie I ever saw in the movie theater. It pretty much made me the motherfucker I am today.

  15. Majestyk- Totally, I still have trouble watching that scene when it comes on today. He’s just so damn splattery.

    And I forgot he also played the guy in that X-Files episode who eats tumors to cure his decapitation, another role that required him to be killed grotesquely and covered in slimy good.

  16. Hm. In 24 he just got suffocated by James Cromwell. Pretty unspectacular death, especially if you remember that it was in the same season, when Jack Bauer killed someone by biting his throat!
    I think I’m gonna watch the 80’s Blob tonight again. It’s been a while and I’m definitely in the mood for some blobness.

    P.S.: I remember that a few years ago Victor Salva was supposed to remake The Blob, but in his version it was called B.L.O.B. (Biological [something] Organic Bomb), again a weapon made by the government and the movie took place at a sealab (Like Deep Blue Sea). I also remember the writers describe two scenes, one where a whole lifeboat of children gets blobbed (this time it was supposed to happen off screen. Adults look away for a second, they hear a whoosh and the boat is gone) and a fight scene between three humans, one of them heavily bleeding, two hammerhead sharks and the B.L.O.B.

  17. A while ago I drove through the town this movie was filmed at. It hasn’t changed all that much from my very brief visit. But that was years ago.

    I thought this one was okay. I liked the original a lot more as it avoided “most” of the monster movie cliches where as this one actively seeks out every single last one.

    I wasn’t all that wild about the government subplot but then again if you take that out then this remake is just the original but gorier (which to today’s audience means “better”).

    This is not to say I thought it was a ‘bad’ movie. It has it’s moments (mostly updates of stuff from the original) but like Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly, it goes for shock & gore to update the original 50s tale but unlike Fly’s remake which made it into a tragic love story Darabont just decided to regurgitate the original but add more cliches & gore and called it a day.

    So chalk me up fore original is way better in this case-file.

    -We can only imagine what Zombie has in store for us in his take: he has already said it’s not going to be creeping glob of jello and he’s going to reinvent it from the ground up (remember when he bitched about all the remakes? Yeah me too. I wonder what happened to Jon Peter’s remake idea of making it ‘in the vein of Men In Black’)

  18. I saw Robocop when I was a child . We wanted to see it in the theater , but unfortunately we had to watch it on VHS later. I remember talking about that movie for a long long time , like a child obsessed with a toy . For us it was like Iron Man at the movies ( I was already a fan of the Iron Man comics ). Then finally , on Christmas Day , my father rented it ( thinking it was just a robot movie ) and we watched it with ALL the family , parents , uncles and cousins . My mom and dad were terrified and disgusted , for me and all the other children it was a blast ( but I was shocked by the first ED209 scene and the acid bath ). Old Grandpa’ fuckin’ loved that shit . For a couple of months he watched the movie with us 2 or 3 times , and he even made the pull-the-gun-out-of-the-leg motion , complete with sounds ( sometimes finishing it pulling out his fake teeth at the end ) ! I’ve seen the sequel with him at the movies! It was his movie.

  19. Watched this about a month ago for the first time in years, boy does it look dated.

    What i will say is they don’t often do effects like in the Blob anymore. (Spoiler) The poor guy in the kitchen that decides to try to unblock the sink. What happens to him still makes me wince (end spoiler) and i can only imagine how crappy that would look digitally, likewise the half dissolved masses within the Blob as well.

    As for Zombie’s Blob, well after Halloween god save us, hopefully 2012 will put a stop to that. Although perhaps that is what ends the world.

  20. [SPOILERS]

    Just a few of the things I love about The Blob:

    * The fakeout that the jock is gonna be the hero – but it turns out to be the Cheerleader.
    * The phone booth scene where the waitress calls the Sheriff for help and then sees him smeared up against the glass (maybe the best scene in the entire movie)
    * The impact of the massive arm of the Blob crashing down to earth shattering the windows down main street
    * Moments later when another arm smashes down on a guy, peels him off the sidewalk, and he’s stretched out like silly putty
    * In the shot where Shawnee Smith as an AK-wielding badass, how perfectly-timed the little shower of sparks is behind her head.

    I fucking LOVE The Blob. Tied for Night of the Creeps as best horror film of the 80’s in my opinion.

  21. nabroleon dynamite

    November 12th, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    From beyond is the shit!!

    The 88′ blob is cool, but the old school blob is just so much more FUN!!

  22. Speaking of The Mask, did you know that Russell originally wanted it to be a serio-comic horror film in the same vane as the Elm Street movies before Jim Carrey came along? I’d pay to see that.

    It makes a lot more sense when you’ve read the comic, I imagine – which is almost as far as you could get from what was put onto the silver screen.

  23. Daniel Strange: I love the phonebooth scene. It’s not just fucking intense, because you know that the woman will never get out of it alive, I also laughed my ass off when the Sheriff was suddenly floating by outside.

    The Filmist: It wasn’t Jim Carrey who changed the direction of The Mask. Because when the movie was filmed, he was still a nobody (Ace Venture wasn’t out yet). If I remember right, it was a decision of New Line, because it turned out that The Mask was gonna be their most expensive movie. So they thought it would be a smarter move to appeal to the widest audience. But as much as I like it, I still hope that someone will make a horror version of The Mask.

  24. Projectionists make great victims. Think about it. Most horror movie victims are the kind of people you want to see die. (The Bitch, The Cop, The Bully, The Redneck, etc.) When you see a movie in the theater and
    the projectionist fuck things up, what do you do? Scream, holler, throw shit
    at the screen, and finally run out of the theater and threaten to kick the manager’s ass
    if they don’t fix the flick. I’m sure all of you out there can rattle off movies you’ve seen that were ruined because of a projection booth fuck up. I have Color of Night, Hollow Man, Pitch Black, Spider-Man (right before the Goblin died no less), and most recently My Bloody Valentine 3-D. So I say… Death to the Projectionist!!!

  25. Ooops seems I remember Night of the Comet a bit wrong then…After seeing it again a couple years ago it certainly wasn’t as good as I (mis)remembered it but still fairly good fun.

  26. Gotta agree with the ‘From Beyond’ comments, one of the better 80’s horrors, criminally overlooked these days

  27. I do not agree with anybodies assessment that the original is better than the 88 Blob. This one was more fleshed out and interesting than the original.

    I loved the Blob so much I had an idea for the sequal. It was around the time of the Waco incident. That crazy preacher guy is just like David Koresh and the government is trying to take him down. Anyway, the Blob gets loose and things happen. But it would have been a nice allegory to that situation at the time. I’m also sure they can make a statement on the current war if they were to make one now.

  28. I’d remembered seeing this one as a kid. Thanks for pointing it out because I had a lot of fun going back and rewatching it. Paul McCrane. I knew that guy looked familiar. lol. This shit is worth owning.

  29. Vern, you may have a point on the “projectionist death” thing, HOWEVER:

    – In “Scream 2”, the projectionist skips out of work and lets his best friend cover for him in order to hang out with his girlfriend and series heroine Sydney Prescott. (As a direct result of this he ends up being tied to a cross and force-fed alcohol by a gaggle of drunken frat-boys.) Given who his girlfriend is, it’s not too difficult to surmise that he’s either the killer or he’s got a bigger target on his back than the Duck Hunt dog. Either way, he’s toast, but one might say it’s more a result of him NOT doing his job than otherwise.

    – In “Urban Legend: Final Cut”, the projectionist is one of the few characters who doesn’t die. Aside from both films being “about” movies (and I mean that in the loosest possible way in both cases), the one thing they both have in common is that Rebecca Gayheart gets a cameo appearance. So you might say that the rule holds true just as long as Rebecca Gayheart plays no part in the action.

    PS – in the original “Urban Legend”, there’s no film studio, but there is a radio show. I guess the nearest thing to the “projectionist” is Tara Reid’s tech girl, who survives. (Tara Reid herself ends up getting chopped into very small pieces.) Once again, Rebecca Gayheart plays a role in the film. Damn, I think I may have discovered a new trend!

  30. Another good remake was the latest one of INVASON OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, not the 70s on with Leonard Nimoy (though that one is great), the one from the 90s where they show the transformations taking place in gory detail. I belive it was called just BODY SNATCHERS.

  31. I loved this movie. The kills were brutal and great!

  32. I rewatched this recently. It’s totally an 80’s movie, but it works. I love the look of the creature. Way more horrifying and just plain gross to look at than one might expect. That part when it slops its way out of the movie theater and into the alley still makes people collectively “ew!” The kills are brutal too. The effects work is great but the idea I think is what makes it as unnerving as it is gross. Everyone’s got a fear of being eaten alive, but skipping the whole eaten and swallowed part and skipping straight to digestion? Ouch. That looks like it sucks.

  33. FYI: I worked as a projectionist when I was a teenager and I’m still here. Guess I got out before it was too late.

  34. our garden tools are always made by Stanley Tools because they are the best when it comes to quality and durability’:’

  35. you should always keep your garden tools in low humidity area to prevent them from getting rusty ~;-

  36. My tool never gets rusty, as I like to keep it oiled. But thanks for the suggestion.

    Watched this last night for the first time in decades and is still just as gooey-good as I remember. Thought the Sheriff’s off-screen/oh-he-got-blobbed death was a by-product of low budget necessity, but good to hear you all think it was deliberate. Even if it was done out of low budget necessity. It’s lean and effective and shocking. I also kept thinking back to Carpenter’s classic THE THING, which is superior for it’s dread tone and the rhythmic mantra bass-line on the score. (Tangentially I have been obsessed lately with all things Carpenter – thanks to picking up Lost Themes II, and being surprised at how much more I liked his ignored VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED on a recent re-watch. The guy is a living legend. I mean, he’s fucking touring Europe right now like a rock star!)

    THE BLOB had a few similarities with Darabont’s later THE MIST – military chemical experiment on a small town. Religious apocalypse-mongerer’s twisting the proceedings to fit their fucked up theology. THE BLOB is a lot more fun though, if you ask me. (Also, Sheriff actor Jeffrey DeMunn was in THE MIST and other Darabont joints.)

  37. The projectionist dies in NIGHT OF THE COMET.

  38. THE MIST and THE BLOB were also both shot in Northern Louisiana.

    I got a huge hankering for VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED about a month ago (due to the Scream Factory! release of the remake) and read the original book (THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS) and watched the original VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and the Carpenter remake back-to-back. As a huge fan of ’50s movies I speak double blasphemy when I say I lean towards the Carpenter film as the superior one (though not by much). The original is a better adaptation so it’s not a literature snob or a THE THING situation. I like how Carpenter and company actually acknowledged the women in the town unlike the original. Outside of them giving birth to the ‘cuckoos’ and maybe two scenes of David and his mother, it’s totally about how the situation effects the men of the town. Again I’m not dissing the original as I do really like it, it’s pretty awesome to have a 1960’s movie in the ’50’s mold where the hero (played the great George Sanders) decides to straight up murder a bunch of kids, but I got to be honest to myself and side with Carpenter on this one. Unfortunately even Carpenter doesn’t seem to care for it and apparently said it was only made to fulfill a contract obligation he had with Universal. Sanders is a really hard act to follow but I really like Reeve as the hero. Martin Stephens is a much better antagonist than Lindsey Haun as Mara though and I suspect the negative-to-cool reception the remake gets has a lot to do with Haun not being nearly as creepy as Stephens.

    As for THE BLOB, I’m a total nerd with this one and have to side with the original over the remake. Never loved the remake as much as others but do enjoy it and find it fun. Remake lacks that theme song and McQueen and I always loved the actor who played the little boy in the original with his cutesy line deliveries. Though the remake has the sink kill.

  39. Sorry for remaking my thoughts on THE BLOB, I totally forgot I had actually commented on this one back in the day. Sorry about that!

  40. Even as a lesser Carpenter though, it’s still a pretty chilling horror. A classroom full of We Need To Talk About Kevin’s-es mind-fucking priest Luke Skywalker, Superman and Crocodile Dundee’s wife (great casting).

    Did you spot the Carpenter cameo?

  41. No I did not. According to IMDB he was at the gas station on the phone. Going back to that scene, I’m not sure how I missed that.

  42. Speaking of Chuck Russell, his latest film, I AM WRATH is not very good, but I would like to give Christopher Meloni a shout out for a most surprising kick-ass performance as ex special forces ex black- ops broody widower loving father tortured soul crybaby Travolta’s wing-man. The guy brings large quantities of biffo with guns, witty banter and furious stabbing.

    Future potential for grizzled B movie action star is evident. Like an older, VENGEANCE era John McClane without the hangover.

  43. I’m convinced Christopher Meloni can do no wrong.

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