The Blob (1988)

The Blob (1988): United States – directed by Chuck Russell

Rated R by the MPAA – contains violence, gore, goo

We know he’s bad because he’s young, drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette, has a black leather jacket on, and is standing next to a motorcycle.  That’s about as bad as you can be, especially in a small skiing town.  The kid’s name is Brian, played by Kevin Dillon in the role Steven McQueen originated in 1958 (review here), and despite the absence of McQueen this remake adds quite a bit of depth to what is essentially the same story, thanks in no small part, I’m sure, to Frank Darabont’s (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) writing.

Since this remake ends up being more effective than the original, it will be interesting to see what transpires in the rumored re-remake scheduled for 2011.  In the meantime it’s worth looking at what makes this movie better than the original.

To begin with, there are more characters, who actually do stuff.  The film is ten minutes longer than the original and the time is well spent.  Another benefit is that a different and more fantastic movie was made in the years between the films.  In one scene Brian leans against a poster for The Thing, and a few minutes later we are treated to a scene where the lighting is exactly the same as the poster.  Indeed, the movie borrows much from The Thing.

We have a grotesque creature that kills people in horrific ways and with fantastic special effects and gore, and, though similar to The Thing, The Blob manages to create enough of its own identity to be effective.  The gore and special effects are quite amazing.  At one point a guy gets pulled through a drain in a sink, in another a couple folk get swallowed by acidic goo, and there’s even an arm getting pulled off.  The best part is that all of the effects are more than adequately achieved, making them not a distraction but an asset to the film.

The movie isn’t particularly deep or amazing, but this is understandable given that it’s about a blob from space.  The plot is very similar to the original, with certain scenes and story points almost being copied verbatim.  There’s an old man who finds a meteorite from space and becomes involved with the gooey substance inside.  Brian, our outsider/juvenile delinquent/hero, is the only one who knows what’s going on.  Of course, he’s got his girl (Shawnee Smith before she did all six Saw movies) and problems with the law and local residents.  The biggest problem, though, is the blob, which keeps growing and enveloping people, eventually threatening the whole town.

Though the story remains essentially the same, the remake allows for broader characters.  A larger budget and better technology gave the filmmakers an opportunity to give the film higher production values.  This could have all failed, though, if the movie was not so much fun.  I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, but as far as campy, gooey horror goes, it’s hard to top The Blob from 1988.  Make it a double feature with the original and a large group of friends, and it will be a very enjoyable night.

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