The Blob

The Blob ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

An exercise in sheer brutality.

The original The Blob didn't really do it for me. Painfully slow for a movie under 90 minutes, and its 50's-era charm never made it more than a novelty in my eyes. I did appreciate the opening theme song and silly tone, which fit the film's status as a genuine B-Movie made independent any studio's financial backing, but overall, I thought it was a great idea for a movie monster that didn't get the chance to shine in the way it deserved.

Which is why a remake thirty years later, in a decade that featured some of the most seminal works of body horror in film, was such a great idea. The 1988 version of The Blob completes a trilogy with 1982's The Thing and 1986's The Fly of 80s body horror remakes of 50s sci-fi classics that radically reimagine the originals and became well-loved cult films with landmark special effects and remarkable shelf-life (and in the case of The Thing and The Blob, spectacularly failed at the box office).

But unlike The Thing being a genuine masterpiece of paranoia and suspense that has been subject to numerous interpretations over the years and The Fly being anchored by an emotionally resonant layer of tragedy, The Blob has no such lofty ambitions. Inspired by the possibilities of a creature that can essentially do anything to the human body, the filmmakers took the original's basic outline and turned in an efficient, merciless machine designed for a single purpose: to kill as many characters in as sadistic a manner as possible before the curtains go up.

On those terms, The Blob is a success, almost to a fault. The kills here are among the most visceral and creative in the genre, and one in particular shook me so thoroughly that I had difficulty sleeping for days afterwards because the image wouldn't leave my mind. Paul entrapped within the blob, shrieking as he suffocates and dissolves at the same time, is something I'll never forget. Many of the other deaths have a tinge of goofiness to them (the date rapist getting what he deserves and the poor cook getting sucked into the kitchen sink being among the best) but Paul's death isn't funny, it's just horrifying. It's also the film's statement of intent: anyone can die, and they will die in agony.

This uptick in cruelty fits the blob's new origin, no longer an alien creature, but now a biological warfare experiment launched into space after the government lost control of it. Small town America is undone by the callous indifference of the military industrial complex that pledged to keep them safe. It's appropriate thematic set dressing, and the head doctor makes for a decent antagonist, but this angle is only something the film plugs in for utility, not something it has interest in actively developing. Not that it has to, but I think this movie never striving for more beyond being a gory roller coaster is part of why this one isn't held in as high esteem as its cousins from Carpenter and Cronenberg.

But as a gory roller coaster, it works. Outside a couple really wonky stop motion shots, the creature effects are nearly all phenomenal. The pacing issues from the original are non-existent, and although its characters are purely functional, they suit the drive-in creature feature vibe. Most of the movie works well, aside from the weirdly tacked-on ending, which felt like a far less effective "but maybe if we get a sequel" tag than the one in the original, largely because the reverend has barely any screentime before this point. It's ultimately a minor issue, and if you want a quick watch with tons of carnage per capita, then this is a good one to throw on.

If this movie had actually made money, a whole generation of kids would've been fucked up by watching a 12 year old getting melted in this.