Monday, March 31, 2014

The Blob!


The Blob starring "Steven McQueen" is a movie I've seen many times over, and each time I'm somewhat at a loss to understand the appeal of this sometimes dreadfully slow, arguably lumbering, 1958 monster flick. But nonetheless a few later there I am watching it again. There's clearly something about this movie which draws you in, not perhaps unlike the pulsing red blob from space which gives the film its title.

One of the things which always jumps out at me when I view this movie is the rather crude production quality. It's an independent movie and it's in color, a downright novelty for a movie of this kind and vintage, but it nonetheless acts like a home movie in many places. The editing is suspect as we move awkwardly from interior set to countryside especially in the opening shots. And the sound mixing is downright wretched -- I noticed that especially on the dvd I used to view the film this time, the background noises are so prominent in most of the scenes it distracts from the dialogue. The characters sound like they are walking on glass in many scenes.

McQueen makes his Case
The story for the few who might not know is a simple one. A meteor falls to Earth and unleashes a small amorphous mass of pulsing tissue which upon contact with flesh absorbs that flesh and increases its mass. The "blob" (never called that in the movie) is found by an old man who quickly succumbs and he is in turn found by uber-whitebread "teenagers" Steve Andrews ( McQueen) and Jane Martin (Aneta Corsault) who take him to the local doctor who through a series of bumbling maneuvers eventually also falls victim. The blob is unleashed on the town and only the teenagers believe while the police dither away, concerned to distraction with the menace of  teenage delinquency. The blob rolls through the night absorbing first this bar full of patrons and then that garage mechanic until finally it lands in the local theater full of midnight-movie fans. It has a weakness but it takes the ingenuity of the teenagers to discover and exploit it.

The Blob takes in a Movie
The movie rarely achieves anything one could dub pace, as it will follow a scene of violence and tension with a limp scene chatting about innocuous teenage concerns such as dodging the cops or treating your girl with proper respect or overweening concern for some bewildered mutt. The teenagers in this movie all look a little suspect too, most seeming to be in their twenties at least. McQueen looks like he actually might be thirty in some scenes which it turns out he almost was at the time.

Teens and Cops United
Looking at The Blob as a basket of movie elements there's no way you'd call this movie successful, but somehow despite the abundant evident flaws it hangs together, sometimes just barely to deliver a most memorable monster and a very remarkable ending.

If you perchance have never seen The Blob by all means do so, but stay patient with it, because like its titular monster it sneaks up on you.

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4 comments:

  1. The diner in the film still exists. I haven't eaten there for awhile, but it is called Chef's and the food is really good. It's in Coatesville, PA

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    1. Wow! I'm headed up that way this summer. I wonder how far out of my path it is. I'll have to check.

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  2. I've always preferred the 1988 remake. But parts of the original movie were filmed in Phoenixville PA which is very close to where I live. The movie thearter that the Blob terrorizes is still in use and they have a festival called Blob fest every summer. One of the events is a reenactment of the scene where folks run out of the theater screaming

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    1. I liked the remake when it first came out, and it remains one of the better flicks of that era of its kind, but I don't think it's aged especially well. The character development is really good in it though, you really root for the characters and the focus of the movie shifts surprisingly.

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