Friday, May 13, 2011

The Blob (1988)

Title: The Blob (1988)

Director: Chuck Russell

Cast: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith


Back when I was 12 years old I was really into reading movie novelizations. For those not in the know, movie novelizations come to be when a studio hires a writer to write a novel based on a films script. Usually, the novelization is released months before the actual release of the film, in this way, the film makes a little money off of the film even before it is released. Now when I was reading novelizations, it was a time when I was discovering just how much I could enjoy reading a book for pure pleasure. Novelizations aren’t necessarily considered the highest form of literature, on the contrary, they are considered the ‘bottom rung’ of literature, low brow entertainment; but to a fertile 12 year old mind like mine, they were awesome! Coolest part is that these little novelizations were released a month or two before the actual film was released, so I thought it was just fantastic to be able to read a film before anyone had even seen it. This was a time before internet, so reading novelizations was a way of knowing what a film was about even before it came out and for that reason alone, it was a special thrill for me to read these novels. The novelization for the 1988 remake of The Blob was one of the first few novels I read because I actually wanted to read it, not because I had to for homework. It was through this little novelization that I discovered the wonderful world of science fiction novels! They took my fertile imagination to previously unimagined places! From then on, I was hooked on sci-fi! To this day I still read science fiction novels, I am currently exploring the DUNE novels, I have made it to the fourth one so far! I’ve stopped reading movie novelizations since then (I find them too redundant) but I thank those novelizations for opening the doors to other forms of literature, and to the joys of reading a good science fiction novel.

This is the novelization that started me off on sci-fi when I was a kid

When I finally got around to seeing The Blob (1988), I was thrilled to see the film I had read come to life on the silver screen. Did the film live up to what I had imagined? It sure did! This movie did not disappoint! The Blob begins in typical sci-fi movie fashion: a meteor containing a parasitic living organism falls to earth. At first, the organism is no bigger then a basketball, but as it continues feeding, it gets bigger and bigger, until by the end of the film the pink and slimy Blob is as big as a mountain! The first person to encounter The Blob is a curious homeless person who decides to investigate the meteors crash site. Unfortunately for him The Blob decides to jump out of the meteor and adheres itself to the homeless mans hand! It then begins to feed on it! Then, as the homeless guy runs scared onto the road, a couple of teenagers accidentally run him down with their car! They don’t realize that the Blob is attached to the homeless man’s hand so they take him to the local hospital to be taken care of. The Blob ends up eating the old man and one of the teenagers in the hospital! Soon after that The Blob escapes the hospital and begins to roam free through the little town of Arborville looking for more humans to devour! Will anyone believe the teenagers before it’s too late?

Let’s get right to the point, what I loved the most about this movie were the make up effects. After The Blob starts slithering around town feeding on people, this movie is a non stop roller coaster ride of gore and gooeyness! Every single death in the film is its own gruesome spectacle. Want to see what a guy looks like when The Blob sucks his entire body down a kitchen sink? Look no further! How about seeing the Blob devour an entire audience inside of a movie theater? Or how about watching The Blob swatting humans like they were flies? Or maybe you’d be interested in seeing bodies dissolve inside The Blob’s slimy mass? It’s all here to titillate your desire for gruesomeness! Only a film from the 80’s could have this much slimy gory fun in it. And damn it, this movie made me miss the good old days when CGI was not king. In fact, in fact CGI was nothing more then a zygote in the belly of cinema! By that time, CGI had only been used in films like TRON (1982), Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), Flight of the Navigator (1986), The Last Starfighter (1984) and Willow (1988). Because of this absence of CGI, the effects in The Blob have a tangibility to them, they look organic, alive. An effect that I doubt could have been achieved as effectively with CGI. A friend of mine said it best while watching this one “they just don’t make them like this anymore!” Everyone was commenting how much they missed films from this era of filmmaking.

There is not much in the way of themes with this movie, this more of a straight forward monster movie. There were no pretentions here of making a deep film, this is just a film about a monster making its way through a small towns population. And speaking of small towns, the fact that this film takes place in a small town U.S.A. is what makes this film so eighties. For some reason, many movies from that era took place in the suburbs, or in a small town where everyone knows each other. Movies like Gremlins (1984), Explorers (1985), E.T. (1982), The Goonies (1985), Killer Klowns from Outerspace (1988), where films where cops are nice guys who used to be somebody’s boyfriend, where the sheriff is this ultra sweet dude, and there’s always a homey diner where the waitresses are like moms. You know the kind; these are films where the town treats each other like family and when impending doom comes along, the face it together! By the way, the whole diner sequence where the blob comes out of the kitchen sink was completely stolen by the guys who made Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem (2008). That film copy pasted a lot from many other films and one of those films it stole heavily from was this remake of The Blob! There’s a whole scene in AvP:Requiem which takes place in a diner that plays out exactly the same way it did in The Blob. Just switch The Blob for an Alien and you’ll see what I mean. Then again, do yourself a favor and skip AvP: Requiem, it’s a really sucky movie anyways.

Performance wise this movie did pretty good. Kevin Dillon plays Brian Flagg, the rebel without a clue who dresses like James Dean and wears his hair like Paul Stanley from KISS. He has some of the funniest lines on the whole damn movie. For example, at one point Shawnee Smith, who plays Meg Penny wants to hide from The Blob in a building and she tries to open the door, but realizes it is locked. Brian Flagg’s answer? “That’s okay, I have the key!” and he throws a brick to the glass door! Hilarious! Another scene that had me cracking up was when Flagg is taken to the police station because he is blamed for the homeless mans murder. He tells the cops he wants to leave because he has done nothing wrong and that either way, he wants these cops out of his face! Then, one of the cops gets close to his face and says something like “this close enough for ya?” and then Flagg proceeds to lick the cops face in total disrespect of authority! Flagg’s lines are the funniest! Shawnee Smith plays the quintessential 80’s daddies girl. She seems total innocent and naïve, but when her family and town is threatened by The Blob, she grows a pair and kicks some ass! Along with Sigourney Weaver in Alien (1986), Shawnee Smith in The Blob is one of those cinematic babes that kicks butt and takes names. Another performance I enjoyed was Del Close's 'Reverend Meeker'. I like the world play on that name, it refers to the bibles teachings about the meek inheriting the earth. On this film Reverend Meeker belives that The Blob is part of Gods Day of Reckoning and that somehow, the slimy creature is part of the fulfillment of bible prophecies! He’s character is played like a religious fanatic gone mad, I loved it. Plus, the character forms a cool part of the films creepy cliffhanger ending, gotta love those cliffhanger endings! Bill Mosley has a blink or you’ll miss it cameo in this movie as a paranoid member of the CDC.

Now, speaking of the creative team behind this flick; The Blob was directed by Chuck Russell a director who’s also responsible for my favorite entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street films: Dream Warriors (1987). He also made The Mask (1994) with Jim Carrey. Chuck Russell as a director was on a roll for a while, he even made Eraser (1996) with Arnold Schwarznegger, which isn’t Arnies best film, but it isn’t his worst either. Sadly, the guy hasn’t made anything worth watching since those days, unless you liked Bless the Child (2000). The screenplay for this remake was a collaboration of many writers. Two writers did early screenplays, but the final script, the one that they used for shooting the film was written by both Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, so I guess in total, this film had four writers. Darabont’s one of my favorite directors, he knows a thing or two about what makes a good horror film, or just a good film period. He wrote and directed The Mist which was my favorite horror film of 2007. He also wrote the screenplay for The Fly II (1989), which to me is a great sequel to Cronenberg’s 1986 remake. He had collaborated before with Chuck Russell in Dream Warriors, on that project they both worked the same way they worked on The Blob, Darabont wrote the script, and Russell directed. So it’s good to know we have a solid creative team behind this film.

Finaly words about The Blob: this movie is pure fun from beginning to end. It wont bore you because every five seconds there’s some sort of slimy gory death going on. I consider this remake as one of the good ones, along with remakes like John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), The Fly (1986) and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead (2004) this is a remake that both brings something new to the table, and at the same time improves on the originals flaws. The make up effects are very imaginative and numerous, once The Blob is on the role, the movie is non stop till the end. Sadly, this movie wasn’t a huge hit. It cost 19 million dollars to make, and it didn’t make as much in theaters, sadly. But as it often happens with good movies (and this is a good movie within its genre) this film later discovered its audience on VHS and DVD. Look for reviews of this one on the internet, and more often then not they will be positive ones. Bad part about this movie not making much bank at the box office is that we never saw the sequel that was promised with the films cliffhanger ending. Bummer. A couple of years ago Rob Zombie was interested in making a remake of this film, and I got excited about that, unfortunately, the project still lingers in development hell. But we still got the film on dvd to watch and enjoy, so if you haven’t seen it yet, and your feeling like watching an effects filled monster movie, with funny dialog and cool deaths, look no further than The Blob.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Manuel Marrero said...

I love this movie; I also love the song Brave new love by the band ALIEN thats plays at the end credits. I actually prefer this version than the original, but then again Steve Mcqueen playing a teenager when he was clearly 40 years old was pretty damn fun.

Franco Macabro said...

I want to see the sequel to the original The Blob, I wonder if its any good.

Unknown said...

Love this film! For the longest time I had a big cinematic crush on Shawnee Smith because of this film. Normally, I can't stand remakes of classics but they got this one right. And good call on the practical effects of this film. Nowadays, it would be mostly CGI and probably done badly, too. I'm glad Rob Zombie backed off on doing a remake. I'm sure he would've done a fine job but it really doesn't need to be remade.

Another fine review. I really enjoyed what you had to say!

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, Shawnee Smith was really cute on this film, she still looks great today I think.

Thanks for the comments J.D.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"really cute" ! ? ! ?, at the time of filming at the age of 17 that bird was one of the most stunningly gorgeous birds of all-time ! ! !.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Happy 40th birthday Tammy O`Rourke, i just wish your little sister Heather was still alive as well. By the way, when The Blob was actually being filmed in January of `88 Heather was still alive (just), thats why i like watching this movie because its like i`m bringing Heather back to life when i do. For the first 3 weeks of principal photography from January 12th up to February 1st Heather was still alive, whenever Chuck Russell shouted "action" during those first 3 weeks of filming Heather was still alive, as i said, thats what makes this movie magical for me more than anything else. Oh Heather...Heather...come back to me Heather, come back to me.

Unknown said...

Cheesy popcorn movie fun. Has it flaws but overall was a legitimate remake, unlike so many movies of today.


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