A meteor crashes to Earth housing a strange alien blob which consumes human beings for food and grows in size to enormous proportions. It’s up to a rebellious teenager and his cheerleader girlfriend to save the day.
If there was ever a film that needed a remake, it was the cult 50s science fiction classic The Blob. That was a campy affair with not-so-great effects (and that’s being generous) and a basic sense of ‘give me a break.’ But the idea of a creature that could absorb it’s victims and increase in size was obviously too big a lure for anyone in Hollywood to avoid, especially as the 80s saw a trilogy of gross out visceral horror remakes including John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing and David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly. The Blob runs like a complete breath of fresh air for the time in which it was made. Instead of going for the same style of camp and cheese as the original or even sticking with the 80s trend of goofy horror-comedies, this one goes all out for the visceral horror aspect. It was criminally overlooked when it was released but has thankfully gone on to get somewhat of a cult following and it’s easy to see why.
The Blob is far superior to the original in almost every aspect and it shows that sometimes remakes can be worthwhile if there is a real desire, a real framework and a real idea of how to top the original. It works a lot better this time around with a more serious tone and although there are moments of humour, this is no laughing matter. The film sets its mood out from the beginning so it doesn’t have chance to fall into any goofy traps – this one is a nasty piece of work. The blob is as unforgiving as any on-screen monster I’ve ever seen. And thanks to that ‘nothing is sacred’ attitude that the writers have, we get pretty much anything goes.
One of the problems of the original was the actual blob itself. What it did to its victims was only suggested or glimpsed in a few rather silly moments with strawberry jelly seemingly tossed across miniature sets with gleeful abandon. Here the blob is given a hell of a lot more screen time which means we get to see what it actually does. The special effects for the blob look good and although some shots have dated badly (you can spot the blue screen moments a mile away), the blob still oozes and drips its way menacingly across the screen. You don’t get the sense that this is some strawberry jelly monster – it’s a nasty, relentless killing machine. It drips off ceilings, slithers through drains and crawls up walls. To say this was all done pre-CGI, it’s very well put together. The scene inside the cinema is an excellent example of how to hide the limitation of your special effects but create such an effective atmosphere, with the blob being illuminated via the use of strobe lighting.
The gore is also excellent and plentiful. People get disintegrated and dissolved by the blob and the carnage is all put on the screen in its visceral glory. There are some other really memorable moments including some poor schmuck getting sucked down the sink and a woman being trapped inside a phone box whilst the blob oozes around it with disintegrated bodies floating around inside. If you’ve got a weak stomach, it’d be best to give this one a miss as even I was shocked at how gruesome it got but also how effective the gore looks for 1988.
The cast isn’t too bad and Shawnee Smith and Kevin Dillon do the best they can with their throwaway roles as the cheerleader and the town rebel respectively. Dillon is especially irritating at first with his macho attitude but at least mellows throughout the course of the film. A lot of the supporting characters don’t make it out alive and I was really surprised when some of the cast were killed off. Even little kids aren’t safe in this one! Kudos to the writers for having the props to do that. There are some attempts at humour in the film including a very funny gag about a nervous teenager buying condoms which is pretty juvenile until the pay-off a couple of scenes later. But this is more or less restricted to the pre-blob part of the film. Once the blob starts getting hungry, the film moves up a gear, ditches the silly comedy drama and goes straight into horror mode.
The only major problem I had with the film is that it got a little silly once the government got involved and explanations were given as to what the blob was. Can’t we just believe that it’s an alien from space and not some man-made monster? The conspiracy theories ruined the idea of the blob for me and the finale third with the town being quarantined and the soldiers looking for the blob just stinks the place up. We needed to see more people being dissolved and disintegrated at this point, not watching a precursor to an X-Files episode.
The Blob is without a doubt one of the best horror films to come out of the slasher-soaked 80s and definite proof that remakes don’t always have to suck. It’s fast-paced, frenetic, scary at times and features some awesome make-up effects. They don’t remake them like this anymore!