Directed by: Chuck Russell
Cast: Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch Jr., Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark
August 5th, 2018 marks the 30th Anniversary of the 1988 film The Blob which is a remake of the 1958 classic with Steve McQueen. Like another great horror film from the eighties, The Thing, the film released to disappointing box office numbers, but it gained a cult following afterward with much of the praise going towards visual effects. Watching the film in the theater thirty years ago, I found much to love about the film as the special effects were fantastic and the script was cleverly entertaining and it instantly became one of my favorite horror films. Upon recently revisiting the film for its 30 year anniversary I still find The Blob to be one of the great films of the horror genre.
The Blob was directed by Chuck Russell, who also wrote the film with Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption), and the two were just coming off a recent collaboration on an enjoyable 1987 horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. The remake has a similar plot to that of the original, which is the story of a meteor landing in a small town which contains a pile of goo that eventually oozes its way across town devouring everyone in its path. Russell and Darabont kept some moments from the original film such as the iconic movie theater scene, only this time the execution was much more graphic and terrifying. What Russell and Darabont added to the film was a higher body count, outstanding effects and a clever screenplay with plenty of foreshadowing, humor, and suspense to keep the viewer guessing as to who is going to make it through to the end. Whether the characters are good or bad, young or old, nobody is safe. The blob as a monster was also an improvement from the remake as it was enhanced with speed, an acidic touch, large protruding tentacles to grab or swat its victims with, and appears smarter. The whole crew must have had a lot of fun in making this film because the end result is one enjoyable cinematic experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning portion of the film as the audience is taken through town to get a feel for some of the characters in the story. There is the flirting between a football player and a cheerleader, a connection between a biker and a homeless man, a sheriff asking a waitress out on a date, and a very humorous moment in a small town store where two friends are purchasing condoms “ribbed or regular”. It’s a wonderful start to the film, allowing the viewers to become attached to some of the characters before the gooey madness ensues.
One of the characters is Brian Flagg, played by Kevin Dillon, who is the cool rebel with a mullet. Brian represents the typical 80’s anti-authority teen, which is a theme that plays through the film and though he comes off as a punk he does have a soft side as shown by him consoling the injured old man in a hospital. This catches the eye of Shawnee Smiths character Meg, a good looking cheerleader who had decided to go on a date with the local football player before coming across Flagg. I find her character to be the most interesting as she starts the film a bit lost when no one believes her horrific story of what took place at the hospital, but eventually, Meg becomes a character of strength in the film. A woman becoming more of a dominant force in horror versus being the helpless victim is something that started to progress more in the 80’s with characters like Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street and Ripley in Alien, and Meg is a prime example of this. When watching the film in the theater back in the day I was pumped with how much her character turned around and started fighting back and she has remained one of my favorite horror heroines.
One of the strengths of the film is in the visuals department, which I find to be just outstanding with great attention to detail. I will probably get tarred and feathered for this but I believe that some of the practical effects are comparable to The Thing. There are scenes such as the movie theater employee entrapped within the blob on the ceiling and dissolving within the acidic slime as well as a very grisly garbage disposal scene, but one of the most notable is early in the film where one of the characters is consumed in a hospital. Their body is fully engulfed in the pink goo as the person reaches out from within the blob. The scene is so disturbing because you can see their mouth open for a muffled scream as their skin slowly sears from their face, and when Meg reaches out to help, the victim loses a limb and they slowly dissolve away. The scene and effects are downright terrifying and should go down as one of the classic moments of horror. The kills in the film are quite disturbing, yet visually stunning and though I would call the visual effects a strength there were just a couple minor parts where the effects were not as strong. A good example is one scene in a diner where Meg and Brian are being chased by the blob, it’s a low angle shot with the blob quickly coming up over them however the rear projection effect was not combined with the foreground as well as it could have been. However, it is very quick and is a very minor gripe for what it is mostly an amazing and memorable job in visual effects.
I completely enjoyed my revisit of The Blob and happy to find that it holds up just as well 30 years later. It’s a very well executed film that is a blast to watch with incredible visual effects and a clever script that will keep people entertained from beginning to end. This remake is far superior to the original film and should be considered the definitive version of The Blob. It sits alongside The Thing and The Fly as one of the three great horror remakes from the 80’s and certainly deserves to be recognized as a horror classic.