DIRECTED BY: Chuck Russell
WRITTEN BY: Chuck Russell & Frank Darabont (screenplay); Based on the screenplay by Theodore Simonson & Kate Phillips
PEW PEW: There are plenty of great kills and fireworks to keep action-interested audiences entertained, but The Blob still isn’t a hectic fright fest.
CAT FOOD: This one definitely raises questions about responsible government and holds the flag of discontent fairly high up in the air.
In this, the era of the reboot, remake, and novel adaptation, it is very important to note what makes a good remake and what doesn’t. Now, there is a difference between remake and reboot. A remake follows the original film very closely and adapts it into modern film, while a reboot scraps the source material and takes only its general concept in order to make a new movie for a new era.
The 1988 version of The Blob is a remake, and a thoroughly fantastic one at that. I do believe that modern filmmakers could learn a thing or two about why this film did such a good job of adapting its source material for a new generation.
The film begins a little like the last. We are made to believe that this jock named Paul (played by the son of folk singer Donovan) is the new Steve McQueen and that he’s going to hook up with hottie Shawnee Smith, who is of course as totally adorbs as she always is. We watch as the meteor once again crashes to Earth, and a nosy old man has to go poking around in it again. After the thing latches itself to his hand, our protagonists take him to the doctor, much as they did in 1958.
Once there, things definitely change. The blob comes to impressive life much faster and much more aggressive than ever before, and totally destroys Paul, leaving our little hottie with the town’s over-acted bad boy, Brian. Which begs comment on the film’s embracing of its era’s counterculture. I mean, we’re not talking super accurate, this is Hollywood’s idea of counterculture after all, but since punk legends The Misfits had a lot to do with ongoing interest in fifties and sixties B-movies, it makes a lot of sense to appeal to an edgier crowd than to a mainstream one.
As over-inflated as his performance is, Kevin Dillon’s Brian Flagg character is pivotal to this film’s plot and to the anti-authority message that the film quietly promotes. The plot’s believability owes a lot to Dillon’s forced performance. He’s a stereotypical bad boy who seems entirely fake, so his transition into someone who cares isn’t really a shocker and it doesn’t derail the suspension of disbelief when he ends up with the girl.
Another big change is that the blob itself isn’t really the chief antagonist. In keeping with the anti-establishment/anti-authority theme, Dr. Eli Vance and his ‘Men from Glad’ show up and take the picture on a turn away from the original film.
Blessedly, The Blob follows the 1958 version’s layout from what I’d call a respectable safe distance. It’s got its own story and its own characters, but it regularly revisits entire classic scenes from the original. The walk-in freezer, for instance, or the assault on the movie house. The film takes itself seriously enough to boast some really great shots and effects, while at the same time laying on a delightful amount of cheese so as to remain firm in its B-movie roots.
The blob itself looks as magnificent as ever, and there or more dirty kills than you can shake a stick at. I absolutely love these scenes. One can’t really put an expression on the blob to sell its menace, but one can certainly put expressions on its victims. Thankfully, none of the deaths are too disturbing, which really sells the picture for me. The writers did an exceptional job of designing hilariously inventive deaths. My favourite is the phone booth scene. The booth is entirely engulfed by the blob and the victim’s on the phone with the police asking where the sheriff is. His half-digested mug appears against the phone booth wall and then the whole fucking thing collapses in on her. We get to see this from above her — it’s bloody magnificent!
While some very mildly limited acting ability attempts to hamper the film’s greatness, humour unexpectedly comes along and saves the day. I almost peed when Meg’s father lowers the newspaper, recognises Paul and utters ‘ribbed!’
Honestly, I feel I should be giving this picture four stars as a movie, but as a tribute to its source material, I have to add that final star. If that doesn’t do anything for you, by all means slash a star from the final score, but I honestly believe The Blob is a five star picture in its respective field. You’ll have a gas, or you’re hopeless and can go back to watching rom-coms.