The Blob (1988)

13 Mar


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

The 1980s have had a thing for taking those silly B-movies from the 1950s and reconstructing them as slick thrillers with a lot of ambition and some pretty nifty special effects—examples include “American Werewolf in London,” “The Thing,” “The Fly,” and “The Lost Boys.” “The Blob,” a remake of the 1958 B-movie of the same name, is one of those movies—it takes the premise of its predecessor and upgrades the effects as well as add a good deal of dark comedy. But mainly though, it is merely through-and-through a monster movie.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I kind of liked this version of “The Blob” for the same reasons I enjoyed “The Thing.” There aren’t any complex characters like in “The Fly” or a unique visual style like in “The Lost Boys”—it’s all just “icky” creature effects, good ol’ suspense, and occasional comedic relief. As a monster movie, “The Blob” is sick and yet fun at the same time.

The original 1950s film starred Steve McQueen in one of his first screen roles as a good kid who discovers that a gelatinous mass is eating its way through a small town and increasing in size as it continues to eat people. In this newer version, Kevin Dillon stars as a tough kid who may as well have escaped from the 1950s. He’s a greaser sporting a leather jacket, an odd-looking mullet, a motorcycle, and a criminal record.

A meteorite crashes down from outer space, as an old man explores the crater to check it out. He pokes at a jello-like substance, which then attaches itself to his hand and doesn’t let go. Brian and two other teenagers—the football star and the cheerleader—comes across the old man, trying to cut off his own hand with a carving knife. They take him to a hospital, but it’s then that they discover that this “blob” attaches itself to a person, eats him or her, and gets bigger as a result. And it’s headed toward town.

This is a cheerfully weird premise and I liked going along with it, especially with the discovery that it has no limits of space—for example, I loved the scene in which it sucks a diner worker through a sink (yes, a sink). Its only weakness is cold, but once it gets big enough to devour main street, I don’t think a fire extinguisher is going to help much. The result, I wouldn’t dare give away, but I can tell you this—it’s not how the original film ended; it’s more entertaining than that.

Looking back on the film, I realize that this movie isn’t on the same strength as the other movies I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph. It is indeed a monster movie with updated effects. The plot developments are as silly as in the original film and the characters aren’t three-dimensional in the slightest. And it should be noted that this is not an actors’ movie. Neither of the actors in “The Blob” are necessarily required to act, but they are an appealing bunch—including Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, and Donavan Leitch as the film’s young heroes. The blob itself does look pretty good, as disgusting as it is. It’s gross, but it’s suitably gross. And the script does have a sense of humor—there are some very funny moments in the movie. One in particular is the reveal of Smith’s father, who works at the general store where Leitch went to buy condoms (he’s taking Smith on a date). Another is when Leitch’s wise-guy friend goes further than second-base with his date, and finds himself in for a surprise when he unbuttons her blouse. (Not to give anything away, but…he’s dead.)

Where the movie steers wrong is with the forced plot element that the Government was responsible for the Blob all along, the ruthlessness of the superior trying to keep it contained (to kill the heroes if necessary), and an ending that just doesn’t work at all. These elements make this “Blob” less than impressive. What I liked about the film is the premise, the effects, the actors with game, and the notion that anything goes with this particular creature. It’s a fun, sick monster movie.

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