Stomping Around in the Dark 4: “The Blob”

Posted: October 16, 2008 in Jeff Holland, poetics
Tags: , , , ,

What separates “The Blob” from the 200-odd movies featured on “Mystery Science Theater”? In two words…quality control.

It’s not a scary movie, it doesn’t have an awesome budget, and in its first half-hour, it tends to meander a bit before getting back to the plot.

The Plot, such as it is: blob attacks old man in the woods, then the doctor who’s treating him, then disappears for a long stretch of movie, while Steve McQueen and the gang go looking for it. Then all of Phoenixville tries their best to kill it, proclaiming the situation hopeless after each attempt.

I always think back to something MST3K’s Tom Servo said regarding movies like this: “To be fair, the producers weren’t really expecting anyone to be watching the movie by this point – everyone was supposed to be making out by now.”

So no, plot and character aren’t terribly important in an old creature-feature. It’s all about the effects. The blob-effect and innovative use of models and cutouts is pretty clever, and man, did they use the HELL out of Technicolor back then.

The Blob isn’t dull gray, it’s this day-glo electric purple. The girls’ lips aren’t just red, they’re redder than Dorothy’s shoes! All the cars seem to be painted in primary colors. This is an unusually pretty monster movie. (Also helping is a crisp Criterion Collection transfer on the DVD, which really makes the colors pop.)

Weirdly enough, Steve McQueen is both the best and worst part about this movie. On the positive side, he’s really acting, man. His face reacts to what other people say, it displays worry and resilience. It’s actually sort of strange. It’s like he put thought into the role.

Unfortunately, Steve McQueen is playing the World’s Oldest Teenager here. The man never looked youthful – he’s always had those creases around his mouth and forehead. But, acting chops aside, why would anyone cast a 28-year-old McQueen as the teenager-lead? The incongruity is always front and center.

Okay, so it’s not even remotely scary, but is it a classic? Hard to say, I’m biased. I’ve been living near Phoenixville for the last three years. And the next time the Colonial Theater hosts its annual “Blobfest,” culminating in crowds running screaming out of the theater…I really do want to run and scream with them.

  1. matt says:

    Well, at least he wasn’t in his mid-thirties, playing a teenager that thinks she has it hard, but who’s family has millions of dollars and live in Beverly Hills. Hell, the premise of that show was so good, they made it twice!

  2. Christine Falkenbury says:

    The Blob Is Quite An Unusual Science Fiction Type Horror Picture That Does Indeed Have Some Extra Scary Moments That Are Chilling To This Day. And The Special Effects Are Really Impressive For They,re Day Of 1958. They Just Don,t Make Movies Like The Blob Now.

  3. Jeff Ramey says:

    I really liked it when I was 12 years old of course in the 80’s
    After I read the storybook from my school library crestwood house monsters
    andwhen we first got tbs on cable. I examined the movie alot and some of the way they did things could have been done difffrently and alot easier
    with exact results because the blob when it was rolling never actually made any complete rolling turns they could have made it a puppet through a hole in the bottom of their miniature sets and moved it exactly the same way.
    but instead they used slow filming to make the blob look to move faster as
    it flowed on it’s own. they could have saved so much film this way.

  4. Jeff Ramey says:

    And by the way Iv’e seen clips of the beware of the blob made after it.
    It is’nt worth a hoot.

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