October Horrorshow: The Blob (1988)

Things have calmed down a bit here at Missile Test. Today is the second straight day without a zombie sighting in the October Horrorshow. No walking dead, no rambling hordes, no barricaded windows or locked down shopping malls. Instead, we return to the realm of the creature feature with the 1988 remake of the classic b-horror flick The Blob. Directed by Chuck Russell, who shared the screenwriting credits with Frank Darabont, this remake is a fine movie in its own right.

The Blob stars Kevin Dillon (sporting a bitchin’ mullet) as rebel without a cause Brian Flagg, and scream queen Shawnee Smith as Meg Penny, teenage residents of the small town of Arborville, California, nestled way up in the mountains. The film opens by showing Arborville as Anytown, USA, a real nice place to your kids up, as The Mothers would say. Meg is a squeaky-clean cheerleader and Flagg, well, I mentioned the mullet, but there’s also a leather jacket, a motorcycle, and a pack of smokes in his ensemble. These two, and the whole town, for that matter, are loaded with cliché, and while the film is not tongue-in-cheek at all, Russell manages to pull it off without seeming ridiculous.

After a meteorite lands in the woods nearby, a local hermit discovers it and is attacked by a small, mysterious gelatinous mass. This mass is, of course, the blob in its nascent form. It’s a corrosive, all encompassing monster that surrounds, dissolves, and consumes its victims, growing in size with every person it eats. It doesn’t think, it doesn’t feel, and it can’t be hurt. It just slithers around Arborville in search of prey.

At first, the adult authorities refuse to believe the outlandish stories that Flagg and Meg tell, but as the film progresses, it becomes impossible to ignore the evil that is present in Arborville. All hell breaks loose, a secretive army unit gets involved, and the final act climax kicks off with a bloody homage to the movie theatre scene from the original.

The Blob isn’t stingy with the gore. It’s also very well done. The attacks by the blob are frightening and disgusting, involving lots of dissolving flesh and flowing goo. Tony Gardner handled the effects crew, and he and his team did a fantastic job for a film with a tight budget.

It’s easy to see how Russell could have decided to produce a tongue-in-cheek remake, something that plays up the unforgiving cheesiness of the original, but he decided against that. Luckily for the viewer, the story is good and the cast, especially the supporting cast, is professional enough that there’s no reason to play anything up for the yuks. Sure, it has its moments (Dillon spits out more than a few eye-rolling lines), but The Blob is what I look for in a monster movie. They don’t make horror movies like this anymore. In fact, they didn’t really make them in the 1980s, either. Not only is The Blob a remake, it’s also an update of the monster genre that ruled 1950s horror. The Blob is a pleasant surprise for horror fans willing to check it out, especially those with an affinity for drive-in fare.