Friday, February 22, 2013

Maynard and Craig's Brilliant Blobfest!

The always amazing Maynard Morrissey from the always awesome Horror Movie Diary rang me up one day a week or so ago, and asked me if I would like to collaborate with him on a singular idea: a double blog triple feature - featuring that most amorphous of movie monsters:

Of course you know I love me some Blob - so the answer was yes - and now here we are coming at you from two different points in what we'll today call The Blobosphere!

Oh, and just to clarify - he didn't really ring me up. Phone calls to and from Austria are expensive!

Here's my take on the original movie:

The Blob  (Tonylin Productions, 1958)   In rural Pennsylvania, two teenagers are out for a romantic chat and maybe some light making out outside town one night. One of them is Steve McQueen, actually 28 at the time and less and less convincing as a teen with every new higher def release; and Aneta Corseault a couple of years before she settled in as Andy Griffith’s main squeeze Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show. Moments in, a flaming something flies over their heads and pounds the Earth close by. Steve and Aneta go to find it. While they search, an old guy living in a shack near the impact point goes to investigate. He finds the meteorite imbedded in the ground not far from his joint, with lots of weird boopy and blippy sound effects marking its cooling off. The old guy pokes the rock, and it splits open, revealing a greenish looking globe that looks like it might be a giant Dot – the movie candy.
He pokes the mass with the stick, and it sinks deep. The old guy picks the goo up, and lets it dribble down the stick as he gives it a good looking at. It gets close to his hand, and registering the possible danger of touching it, the man turns the stick over, pointing it back down at the ground. At that point, with the stick pointed south, the whole situation goes south as the mass oozes up the stick and engulfs his hand. The old man is in instant agony, and tries to shake the thing off, but it’s going nowhere. Worse, it also starts to turn red (one of the most subtle and most disturbing moments in movies) as he runs off into the night. Moments later Steve and Aneta nearly hit the old man as he scrambles across the road in front of their car. Seeing the engulfed hand, the “kids” (gotta put the quotes in when one is pushing 30) take the old guy to the town doctor, who’s supposed to be headed out of town for a convention.

The doctor takes charge, and discovers the gelatinous parasite has moved up the man’s arm. While he tries to puzzle out a diagnosis, calling in his nurse for assistance, the old man is quietly and completely consumed. Now the medical professionals are facing The Blob – a living, seemingly intelligent glob of space goo who’s discovered a taste for human flesh. Steve and Aneta return to the doctor’s and Steve sees the Blob swallow the doc’s head (mostly off camera) and high tail it to the police. Due to some earlier racing hijinx with some other teens – plus the doctor's planned trip out of town - the police are not well disposed to Steve and his story is disbelieved to the point that parents are called. When Steve’s dad turns up he appears to be played by a man past retirement age – perhaps the “looks ten years older” thing runs in the family – and the kids are taken home to “get some rest and we’ll talk about it in the morning” since it appears to be 9:00 at least. As the Blob makes his way around town, oozing under cars to eat late working mechanics and exploring the local grocery store, both “teens” promptly escape familial custody and meet back up to try to stop the monster - which is now the size of a Volkswagen Beetle thanks to eating more town folk. With the police no help Steve and Aneta turn to the “teens” they drag raced earlier, but can an Anti Blob Gang with distinctly post collegiate hairlines stop a creature which can ooze through any crack or seam, and which appears to be impervious to any weapon? And how does a local diner and a high school full of fire extinguishers figure in?

I first saw The Blob early in my Saturday night “Creature Feature” viewing – and I thought it was awesome. There was a bona fide movie star in it (McQueen was still alive and kicking and making movies when I first saw The Blob) and the monster was really creepy – because it moved silently (no “big bug” shew-shew-shew-shew-shew sounds here); it could ooze through cracks and up and across walls and ceilings; and it melted you to death with acid as it slid over you and digested you. The effects used to bring the Blob to life were surprisingly good considering the film’s low budget – and the movie comes to a satisfying conclusion – sometimes not an easy proposition when you’ve lined your monster up as invulnerable. My opinion hasn’t changed over the intervening time and several more viewings. Nowadays I more readily recognize the movie’s faults – notably an inexperienced supporting cast (that kid playing Corseault’s little brother is more murderous to watch with every passing year) and possibly a rose colored glasses view of 50’s life where authority is almost always respected and the solution to most problems can be found if we just work together. But it’s still a very cool movie – and the Blob actually rates high on my list of movie monsters. It’s very alien (as opposed to some actor in a skullcap and velour body suit speaking English) and it still creeps me out. A definite recommendation who likes their horror old school now and again.

Some fun facts about The Blob.

Shot in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania; the world premiere was held there; and in recent years there’s been a “Blob Fest” there annually that tours the film’s locations, and provides fans a chance to see the real Blob – the last remaining bucketful of colored silicone kept by a fan of the film in the area.

A screening of the rough cut got Steve McQueen the job on TV’s Wanted: Dead or Alive.

The Blob is at times “played” by a modified weather balloon and at other times by a big glob of colored silicone. The effects really do work well, with the Blob appearing to move under its own power and never obviously pulled by a string or through reversing the film – although both tricks might have been used.

The Blob appears to grow throughout the movie, starting as about the size of a grapefruit in the meteor and growing large enough to engulf a building near the end. The effects of the growth were achieved by putting the creature through its paces on increasingly smaller miniature sets painstakingly built and photographed to match the full size sets the actors worked in.

The Blob was re-released on a double bill with Jack H. Harris’ Dinosarus in the 1960’s.

Maynard - I think it's a classic - what do you think?

The first time I've seen "The Blob" was when I was 11 or 12. At that time, I've already seen, and was madly in love with the 80s "Blob". As you can guess, the 50s "Blob" didn't do anything for me. I found it boring and completely unspectacular.
Seeing it now almost 20 years later, my opinion hasn't changed much. It's a dull and quite uninteresting movie. I can't take it seriously because there's too much goofy stuff going on, but I also can't consider it a good ol' trashfest because there's not enough trash-worthy going on.

- The Good -
The acting is pretty good (most notably Steve McQueen and Earl Rowe) and most of the characters are pretty sympathetic. Ralph Carmichael's ("4D Man") score is very well composed and highly effective, the cinematography is nice, the special effects all look cool, and all the scenes with the Blob are wonderfully entertaining, especially the opening, the hilarious acid attack and the sequence at the movie theater. Also, I think the idea of a formless, amorphous lifeform is quite original - and no, I don't believe in the "Blob" being anti-communist propaganda.


- The Bad -
Like I mentioned above, the movie is unbelievably slow, boring and tedious. Most of the time you get to see teenagers doing nightly car races, talking to police officers and trying to warn people about a monster. The Blob has way too little screen time, the super-goofy opening song totally doesn't fit the already weird tone of the movie, the editing if often extremely amateurish and the climax is so indescribably lame, it's close to impertinence.


I know, it's considered a sci-fi/horror-classic and I perfectly understand why. Nevertheless, this is definitely not my blob... erm, cup of tea.

Well damn! I thought you would have enjoyed it more. I'd forgotten that silly theory that the Blob was anti-communist propaganda - heaven forbid you color anything RED in the 50's! It was red because of the peoples' blood! (he cried at the people who came up with that theory back in the day)

Well, let's move on - maybe we'll agree on the next movie more.

14 years after the original movie, producer Jack H. Harris enlisted his California neighbor Larry Hagman – just finished playing Tony Nelson on TV's I Dream of Jeannie – to direct a sequel – and so we got:

The first point in the movie's favor is that it is a direct sequel. Godfrey Cambridge plays a construction guy who was part of a crew that found the frozen Blob where it was dumped in the Arctic. For some reason they brought containers of it home during a leave; (for Pete's sake, WHY?)  and while meaning to keep it stored in the freezer the cannister gets set out while some groceries are being put away (!) - and soon the Blob has thawed enough to absorb a fly that lands on it. Moments later a cat, Mrs. Cambridge, and Godfrey himself fall victim to the once again growing mass - and we're off! After that the plot resembles the first movie, with hippies substituted for the teens. As the Blob - and the movie - meander about town picking off guest star victims, the hippies try to alert the authorities but are rebuffed because, well, they're hippies! As the Blob corners our heroes and a large segment of the town's residents in the town's ice skating rink, scruffy hero Robert Walker Jr has to try to figure out how they can possibly freeze the huge mass of goo again...

I first saw this one on the CBS Late Movie one Friday night back in the 70's - and as a kid didn't notice how much goofy humor director Hagman inserted for this second go-round. As an adult I've checked the movie out again, and while there are still some creepy moments with the creature, the humor undercuts it too much to call the movie a success. Still, moments like this a still a little chilling:

It's also very low budget, and while there are some cool effects here and there - a big chunk of the second half fakes the larger blob with small amounts in the camera foreground acting as the larger mass in forced perspective. Here's what I mean in visual form:

As one of only three Blob movies, this still rates a recommendation - just be prepared for a much goofier cinematic experience. This movie also got a re-release - and for a pretty silly and tenuous reason - during the hubbub over Hagman's Dallas character JR Ewing being shot and left for dead as a season ending cliffhanger - Beware! The Blob was retitled Son of Blob, and they gave the movie a heck of a then-topical tagline: "The Movie J.R. Shot!"

In another weird moment, the original movie turns up on someone's TV....

And there's one thing you have to give this sequel: it doesn't have that talent free ankle biter who played Aneta Corseault's little brother!

Okay, so this one barely scrapes by as watchable - are we any closer to being on the same page this time, Maynard?

The origins of "Beware! The Blob" in a nutshell: 

 Blob-producer Jack H. Harris showed his personal 16mm print of "The Blob" to his neighbor Larry Hagman (J.R., Major Nelson) who had never seen the movie before. Hagman highly enjoyed it, joined forces with Harris and eventually became the director of a semi-Blob-sequel, Hagman's only theatrical effort. And guess what? Yup, it's terrible.

"Beware! The Blob" is a super-crappy comedic follow-up that looks and feels like one of those god-awful "Killer Tomatoes" flicks. It's lousily written and lousily directed, dull and boring, packed with unnecessary, lengthy and pointless scenes, packed with idiotic and highly annoying characters (douchebag hippies, unnerving boy scouts, a moronic barber...).
The score is repetitive and completely unimaginative, the camera work is tiresome and the editing is amateurish as fuck.


The Blob-scenes are funny (love his 'new' jello-like look), the climax is way more action-packed than the one in the original, there's lots of kewt kittie in the opening (which makes the opening quite watchable) and I laughed at the scene where some guy watches the original "Blob" on the TV.
Everything else about it is utter terrible and totally forgettable.
Fortunately, Hagman went back to his acting roots after this stupid pile of glibber..

Well, we're much closer this time - but I liked it a little more than you did. Hey, wait a minute! Super crappy Killer Tomatoes movies??!!?

Third time's the charm?

Sixteen years passed, and remake fever hit - so in 1988, this was seen on movie screens around the country:

This one has some solid names behind the camera - co-written by Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell, and directed by Russell. The movie takes a fun approach - follow the blueprint of the original movie - but at some of the iconic moments remembered from 1958 - spring off in new directions. In those last days before CGI came in all of the effects are practical, which is most welcome - and there's a fun cast, headed by Shawnee Smith (some of the Saw movies) and Kevin Dillon (known more recently for HBO's Entourage). Darabont starts working with Jeffrey DeMunn here; they've been re-teamed on The Walking Dead recently. Also, if you look fast, you can spot Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) as one of the soldiers near the end of the movie!

As there are a couple of neat turns in the plot I'll say no more about the story; suffice to say this is a terrific remake - it acknowledges the original while amping up the special effects with thirty years of technological advancement. My only two quibbles with The Blob '88 - this time the creature throws out tentacles at times - and while they move well, they look too solid and not liquid-y/Blobby enough. And why no cameos from ANYONE from the original movie? Admittedly Steve McQueen was gone by then, but Aneta Corseault was still around. Hell, they could even have stuck Aneta's brother in as an adult. If he didn't speak. And turned away from camera. Boy, nitpick much?

Okay - this is your last shot to actually like a Blob movie, Maynard - give us the verdict:

More than 30 years after Irvine H. Millgate, head of visual aids for the Boy Scouts Of America, told producer Jack Harris his idea for a monster movie about a "mineral form of life that consumes human flesh on contact", director Chuck Russell ("A Nightmare On Elm Street 3") and Frank Darabont ("The Green Mile") finally turned this idea successfully into a fully satisfying popcorn movie.


I clearly remember 10-year-old me standing in the horror section of the local rental store, staring on the ghastly VHS-cover for what felt like hours. That image, showing a violet-skinned kinda-zombie in strawberry jelly, deeply, deeply fascinated me, and when I finally got to see it a few years later (Thank you German Television for showing it uncut after midnight, and thank you Mom for allowing me to stay up late), it totally blew me away.


"The Blob" is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most entertaining horror movies of the 80s. It ups the ante of the original and stands on its own as an absolutely incredible and spectacular remake, probably one of the best horror-remakes ever made. It's well-built and well-paced, funny, thrilling, action-packed and superbly diverting from start to finish with no dull or boring scenes/sequences.

The characters are all fun and sympathetic and the overall cast is strong and believable, especially Kevin Dillon as quasi-cool local rebel, Shawnee Smith as heroic cheerleader girl, and Del Close as creepy reverend. Michael Hoenig's ("The Wraith") is rousing and effective, and Mark Irwin's intriguing cinematography is fabulous.

Highlight of the movie are obviously the brilliant gore 'n slime effects. Not "The Thing" level brilliant, but definitely awesome and impressive. The Blob looks stunning and creepy, its movements are believable (love how it shoots out of the kitchen sink, or when it transform into some kinda ginat vagina down in the sewers) and I love how it's "able" to change its colors from red to pink to grey.


Also, lots of remarkably badass kills: blob dissolving the lower half of a bum's body, blob absorbing a teenager by covering his entire body, blob crawling into and breaking out of a young woman's body, blob attacking a movie theater audience, blob creeping into a scientist's hatmat suit, blob killing a woman by crushing the phone booth she's standing in, and best of all: blob violently pulling a man down a drain, one of my Top 5 favorite kills of all time!

Popcorn horror-cinema at its best, a must-see!

Well there you go - for Maynard, one out of three ain't bad!

For me, it's two kickass movies out of three, and the middle one watchable - not a bad scoring record for the series. There were rumors Rob Zombie wanted to remake The Blob again - I was not against the idea - interested to see what CGI might bring to the blobby table, plus the plot is ready made for Zombie's trademark profane white trash characters - The Blob Goes to the Trailer Park. But I guess that isn't happening now. I could stand a new Blob movie - and they have a few years left to hit the thirty year between remakes mark again.

Huzzah The Blob! My thanks to my blog buddy Maynard for providing all of the pictures in my part of this thing with his mad screen capturing skills! Here's a direct link to his site's Blobfest post:


And until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. How could I not love the Blob 80s? That has to be the best creature feature I'd seen as a ten year old! Reviving that classic in that decade was the best idea every had to come up with for years! (next to reviving Cape Fear in the 90s for me...)

    The first two i rarely seen. i recalled seen the original blob on TV but I didn't make much of it. As you'd said, it's too slow and I was really aiming for some monster action.

    hadn't seen Beware. but from I heard, it's a comedy...

    1. I don't guess there's much argument that the 1988 movie is a corker. I just wish I could get you guys to see how kickass the original movie is!

  2. I LOVED the original. It was one o the first monster movies that I had ever seen. My dad loved this movie as well and used to tease us with the theme song. He'd sing it and do this crazy gyrating, arm-waving dance. Cracked us up. This is still one of my sentimental faves and I never get tired of it. And on a side note...How often have teenagers in movies been played by actual teenagers? More often than not they're pretty 20 somethings. So Steve was pushing it at 28...LOL He was still fine to look at.

    Loved the third film, too. Maynard is right, that drain kill rocks! And Larry's was just plain cheesy fun for me. Incredible post, my friends, you need to do this again soon. :)

    1. Ah! Finally! Some love for 1958! And you're right that most movie teens are impersonated by college grads; but usually they're still south of 25! Thanks for the kind words about the post MB! I had a blob...er...blast...teaming up with Maynard for this one!

  3. Huge thanks to you Craig for the collabo. Was a really fun post! Next time we're gonna get even more epic, Amityville or Children of the Corn series ;-D

    1. Huge thanks right back atcha MM! This was a lot of fun, and I'M all for an even bigger post for a longer series, but how will you handle my innate wordiness? ;)