The Blob (1988)

Up the horror--and the homo
★★★★
☆☆
Released: 
1988
Director: 
Chuck Russell
Starring: 
Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffery DeMunn, Candy Clark
The Setup: 
Remake of the famous 50s monster B movie.
Discussion: 

Having recently watched the original blob, which is quite fun, I wanted to re-watch this version, which I recalled as upping the gore and horror significantly—or just fully acknowledging all the horror implicit in the original story. This is directed by Chuck Russell, who also directed Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and The Mask, and co-written by Frank Darabont, of The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist.

The credits set the scene of this underpopulated western ski town, still waiting for the snow and the tourists. We meet Brian, this disaffected teen with Duran Duran hair who rides his motorcycle and smokes. Dangerous! We also meet Candy Clark as a diner waitress, Fran, and Burt, the local sheriff who burns a flame for her. Also present are cheerleader Meg and her clean-cut jock boyfriend Scott. All accounted for? Okay, let’s start dissolving some bodies!

The old homeless man is out doing his homeless thing when a meteorite crashes nearby. He goes to it and finds this goo inside, which he lifts out with a stick. It promptly jumps right onto his hand, and apparently doesn’t feel too soothing. He finds Brian, and Brian is almost hit by Scott and Meg, who take the guy into the hospital. You can see that Meg likes Brian because he helps the homeless! Scott sees something moving under the homeless guys’ sheet and calls the doctor—Jack Nance of Eraserhead and Twin Peaks. They pull back the sheet to find the guy completely dissolved from the torso down. Ewww!

SPOILERS > > >
Scott goes into the office to make a call, and soon finds himself enveloped in blob. This is where the movie announces that it’s going to go full steam into all the horror this story really implies—and that it’s going to kill off unexpected victims—when Meg comes into the room and see Scott being eaten alive from under a layer of viscous pink goo. There’s a particularly horrifying image as Scott opens his mouth to scream and it’s just a hole in this gelatinous mass [below]. Meg pulls on his arm to save him—and his whole appendage just comes off. She’s knocked out and the blob escapes.

Meanwhile, some random teens are in a car making out, when the guy comes in to find his girlfriend passed out. The old teen sex/horror equation is expressed as the fellow reaches into cop a feel of his unconscious girlfriend’s breast and finds his hand sinking into partially-decomposed flesh. That eats him.

Meanwhile Brian has been called into the sheriff’s office, where we learn that his dad is gone and his mother’s the town slut. The dynamic here is a call-out to the original film, which was all about how the adults don’t trust those no-account teens, right down to the sheriff who kind of trusts Brian, and the deputy who thinks no good could come of him. The deputy gets right up in Brian’s face, and just when you’re thinking “okay, this is a little homo,” Brian plants a big wet one on him! That’s it, but it helps reinforce that this film is interested in humorously tweaking all the repressed undercurrents of the original.

Meanwhile a dishwasher at Fran’s restaurant gets grabbed by the head, and his entire body yanked down through a drain maybe four inches across. Candy runs out the back to a phone booth that is soon entirely encased in blob. She’s trying to call Burt, the cop she had the date with—oh, but who’s partially-decomposed body is this, pressing against the window? She can save herself a dime. A few seconds later, the glass cracks and the entire booth is filled up with blob. In here one has to appreciate how the film sets up Fran and Burt’s romance as something that will grow throughout the film, then goes for the surprise of killing them both off.

Now Meg sneaks out of her parents’ house and meets up with Brian, and both soon discover that this is not just ANY meteorite from outer space—it was a top-secret government weapons program! I’d like to know what the original incident was that caused virtually every government in film to be at work on a top-secret weapon. I guess it must have been nuclear bombs. Meanwhile, any remake of The Blob can’t leave out the famed movie theater sequence, so the people watching The Garden Tool Massacre are rudely attacked, causing mass panic. By now Meg and Brian have figured out that the blob doesn’t like cold—and of course you recall that we’re in a ski town—so Brian runs off to get a snow maker. Blah, blah Brian is disabled and it’s up to Meg to save the day, which she does by rigging an explosive on the snowmaker’s CO2 tanks, and baiting the blob to slither on over. It gets frozen and shattered into a million tiny chunks, and they play it as though the nightmare is over, although it’s obvious that as soon as that thing melts it’s just going to glob back together and go on killing. Anyway, there’s a short coda in which we see that a crazy preacher saved a little blobette in a jar, waiting for a “day of reckoning,” then we have an awesome 80s rock song over the credits, and that’s it.
< < < SPOILERS END

On it’s own, it’s a pretty good 80s horror movie. The Blob is such a unique villain, with its ability to slither all over, divide and reform, and goop through grates and such. If you’ve seen the original, this one gains a lot of goodwill by clearly being so affectionate toward it, adapting the most fun elements while adding new victims and updating the relationships, reducing the undercurrent of adult mistrust of teenagers that was more resonant in the 50s. What it also does is follow through on the horror implicit but not directly shown in the original, and the blob’s method of killing is shown as quite nightmarish. And under all this is the recognition that this is a remake of a beloved classic with a famously loony premise, so everything here has a fun air of parody, without ever crossing the line into outright comedy.

So yeah, if you’re looking for a slightly unusual 80s horror film that both fun and gory, this is a good one to add to your list.

Should you watch it: 

Sure! It’s fun and genuinely horrific.

RELATED FILMS:
THE BLOB [1958] is the original and is definitely amusing, with very fun basic special effects.