THE BLOB (1988)

STARRING: Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Ricky Paull Goldin, Kevin Dillon, Billy Beck, Candy Clark, Joe Seneca, Del Close

1988, 95 Minutes, Directed by:
Chuck Russell

It is instructive to watch this 1988 remake back to back with the 1958 original version of The Blob; not only to see how much movie-making techniques (editing, cinematography, soundtrack music, etc.) have changed in 30 years’ time, but also how much societal attitudes and values have changed in that period.

In the original movie the Blob is an alien organism from outer space. Like Venom in Spider-man 3 it hitched a ride on a meteorite that crashed onto the Earth. In this post-Watergate remake the Blob is a secret government experiment gone awry. The meteorite is in fact a satellite and soon shadowy X-Files types in antibacterial suits wanting to capture the Blob alive to study it overrun the little town (at least they kept the original film’s setting instead of moving it to the city). Of course the civilians are judged to be expendable. (Note: this remake actually predates The X-Files TV show by a few years.)

In the original movie Steve McQueen (in his debut) tries to convince the authorities that a giant alien blob is devouring townsfolk one by one and growing bigger and bigger in the process. Here the hero is a rebellious biker played by Kevin Dillon (younger brother of Matt) who has to warn he townspeople that the government agents are lying and not there to help them.

(This new remake is also a lot more violent and gory, but nowhere as gory as more recent horror flicks such as the SAW and Hostel movies.)

The irony is of course that this remake has itself dated in the meantime. The pre-CG special effects has held up remarkable well, but several hair styles will illicit some chuckles. (The biggest transgressor is Dillon’s own hairdo.) Some soundtrack cues scream ‘Eighties and so do the opening credits sequence. This aside, The Blob is an enjoyable affair – and to be fair – actually superior to the so-bad-it’s-good original.

Plans are afoot to produce yet another remake of The Blob, this time by director Rob Zombie. If his Halloween remake is anything to go by then any such remake will be patently awful and audiences will no doubt be “treated” to some senseless gore, some unpleasant potty-mouthed rednecks biting the dust and probably a gang rape or two as well.

Sigh. The point is that The Blob has already been remade and as far as remakes go it ain’t too shoddy.

(Interesting to note is that Shawshank Redemption and The Mist director Frank Darabont shares co-writer credits for the screenplay. The screenplay is awash with 1980s horror movie clichés and contains almost verbatim the same speech about self-interest which Princess Leia gives Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back.)


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