Director: Chuck Russell
Starring: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: A small town is thrown into chaos when a meteor crashes in the forest and unleashes a deadly gelatinous abomination with a penchant for consuming any living matter it comes into contact with, with the added bonus of increasing its mass. Meg Penny, resident good girl/cheerleader, forms an unlikely alliance with local troublemaker Brian Flagg to warn the town of the impending doom and unearth a deadly government conspiracy.
With the abundance of constant remake announcements in today’s film landscape, the reception tends to be generally icy from film fans due to most remakes completely missing the magic of what made the original so exceptional, or the cynical nature of a studio trying to capitalize off fans nostalgia. While the backlash is certainly not unwarranted, it’s easy to forget that remakes have been a part of cinema since its inception. How many times have we seen Dracula reimagined on the silver screen? King Kong has climbed the Empire State Building at least 4 times now, and Disney has adapted Treasure Island on 3 separate occasions. One of the most successful forms of remakes sparked in the late 70s right into the 80s with darker adaptations of 50s science fiction films including John Carpenter’s horror classic, The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly, and Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. One such 80s adaptation that hasn’t quite hit critical renown as these contemporaries was Chuck Russell’s goretastic reimagining of The Blob.
While not quite on the level of the films mentioned above, The Blob isn’t afraid to have more fun with its concept. Darkly comical throughout with some fantastic gags and zingers, the film is both cynical in its body count and unafraid to tackle humble American pie society with Cold War era suspense and government conspiracy.
The practical effects are the highlight of the film giving the 50s monster a far more sinister update for the 80s penchant for gore and violent deaths. Cinematographer Mark Irwin, a frequent collaborator with David Cronenberg, does a stellar job utilizing forced perspective and models to really create a grand scope for the film. Tony Gardner took the reins for the film’s special effects and probably produced one of the finest examples of the debate for practical effects over CGI for creating a more visceral horror film.
Written by future Oscar-winning director, Frank Darabont, the script has a surprising depth despite the film’s hokey nature. Darabont fills the town with memorable side characters, each getting their own flashes of personality before inevitably getting dissolved into mush. Most death scenes are focused on the future victims’ kinks or quirks, giving the audience a sense of their character or a reference point before the Blob descends on them. Darabont even pulls a few classic bait and switch moments, setting up star athlete and potential love interest, Paul, as our leading man, only to gruesomely dispose of him in the first act. Likewise, local Sheriff Geller and friendly waitress Fran appear destined to connect in a budding romance only for both to meet a similar vicious demise early on. The Blob’s commitment to killing off characters at the behest of a conventional Hollywood narrative is a breath of fresh air and certainly helps it stand out amongst other creature features from the 80s.
The Blob was a box office bomb at release and, despite a lukewarm to positive reaction from critics, didn’t really find its audience until years later. Not too dissimilar to how The Thing found greater acclaim decades later, The Blob hasn’t quite reached the same critical and fan reaction. Surprisingly well written, with a dark sense of humour, The Blob is one of the best examples of remaking a lesser movie and giving it a more contemporary message with improved special effects.
Bottles of Prairie Bomb!