Tuesday, July 15, 2008

#19: The Blob


The Blob
Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. and Russell S. Doughten Jr.
Written by Kay Linaker, Irvine Millgate, and Theodore Simonson
Released September 12, 1958

I needed something dumb and fun after the sad punishment of The Panic in Needle Park, and I got that in spades in the original 1958 The Blob, starring cinema god and all around coolest-motherfucker-ever Steve McQueen.

The movie opens with a completely ridiculous "Tequila"-esque theme song by Burt Bacharach that is so silly it threatens to undermine the entire point of making a horror movie. The song warns, "Be careful of the blob!" How about "Run the fuck away from the blob"?

The Blob, put simply (there's really no other way to put it) is the story of a meteor crashing to Earth and releasing a pile of space jism that threatens to destroy the world by growing exponentially every time it consumes a victim. Steve McQueen is making out with his girlfriend when they witness the crash, and they must come to their town's rescue.

My first thought: did it really take three writers to come up with this thing? What, one to hold the pencil and the other two to move the paper? There's virtually no exposition when the movie opens. . . just some making out and then a crash. One of the movie's longest scenes involves McQueen trying to explain to a cop why he was driving backwards.

What I'm saying is this kind of movie basically writes itself. When I was a kid, I made a knock-off comic book based on The Blob called The Slop. I hadn't even seen the movie; I just thought the idea of a giant pile of goo eating people, like Jaws set loose in your plumbing, was a damn good idea. The Slop contained just about as much plot.

Don't get me wrong: The Blob is a damn good time, a well made B-grade horror/sci-fi oldie with a high body count, some good -- even intentional -- laughs, and a few decent tricks up its sleeve. Honestly, I expected a lot worse from a film that turns 50 years old this year, especially considering how much McQueen hated this movie as he matured as an actor. He certainly doesn't let his disdain show in his performance.

In an era full of torture porn like Hostel and Saw, utter garbage that is nothing short of serial killer training videos, it's quaint and somewhat refreshing to watch a "scary" movie that isn't trying to disgust you with the kind of sadism that has overrun the genre. Hell, you could watch The Blob with your younger children without doing them irreparable psychic damage.

Yeah, it's silly. Yeah, it's campy. But what's wrong with having a little fun?

For more on The Blob:
- More information at IMDB and Wikipedia
- Wes Shank is the man who owns The Blob
- Buy the Criterion edition of The Blob.

The trailer, at YouTube:

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