The Blob is a 1988 American science fiction horror film co-written and directed by Chuck Russell. A remake of the 1958 film of the same name, it stars Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Paul McCrane, Art LaFleur, Robert Axelrod, Joe Seneca, and Del Close. The plot follows an acidic, amoeba-like organism that crashes down to Earth from a meteorite, which devours and dissolves anything in its path as it grows.
Filmed in Abbeville, Louisiana, The Blob was theatrically released in August 1988 by Tri-Star Pictures and was a box office bomb, grossing $8.2 million against its budget of approximately $10 million. Though it received a mixed response from critics, the film has accrued a cult following in the years since its release.
Plot[edit | edit source]
A meteorite crashes near Arborville, California. An elderly transient discovers, within the sphere, a massive slime mold-like substance that adheres to his hand. Three high school students, Brian, Meg and Paul, take him to a hospital. After Brian leaves, Paul witnesses the lower half of the transient melting from exposure to the Blob. As he calls for help, the Blob drops on top of him. Meg walks in to see Paul being consumed by the growing Blob. While she tries freeing him, his arm dissolves off, Meg is thrown against a wall and knocked unconscious, the Blob fully dissolves Paul, and the Blob oozes out of the hospital, where it devours Scott, Paul's friend and his date Vicki nearby.
After Brian and Meg have unsatisfactory encounters with the police, they meet at a diner where Meg tells Brian about the Blob. Brian's disbelief is shattered when a diner worker is violently pulled through a sink drain by the Blob. It pursues them to the diner's walk-in freezer, but the Blob retreats after entering the freezer. After consuming Sheriff Geller and the diner's owner Fran Hewitt, the Blob reenters the sewers. Meg and Brian return to the police station, where the dispatcher tells them Deputy Briggs is near the meteor-landing site. They discover a military operation led by a scientist, Dr. Meddows, who orders the town and the two teens quarantined. While Brian escapes, Meg is taken to town where she learns her younger brother, Kevin, is missing. Meg learns he and his friend, Eddie, sneaked into the movie theater. The Blob enters the theater though the ventilation shaft, where it begins to feed on the staff and audience. Meg arrives as the audience flees the theater, rescuing Eddie and Kevin, but the trio are cornered in an alleyway when trying to escape and are forced to flee into the sewers.
Brian eavesdrops on Meddows and Jennings talking and learns that the Blob is a biological warfare experiment created during the Cold War, launched into space because it was so dangerous. Learning that the Blob has entered the sewers, Meddows decide to trap it there, even if that means allowing Meg, Kevin, and Eddie to die. Brian is discovered listening in and evades military personnel by driving his motorcycle into the sewers. Meanwhile, Meg and Kevin flee from the Blob when it emerges and consumes Eddie. Kevin escapes by scaling a pipe to the surface, and Meg is saved by Brian. They escape the sewers to the town square, where Brian confronts Meddows in front of the townsfolk and Briggs. When Brian begins to win over Briggs with his arguments, Meddows attempts to shoot Brian, but is killed by the Blob when it drags him into the sewer. The military unload their weapons in the sewer entrance in hopes of killing the creature, but only succeed in making it enraged. The Blob suddenly bursts out of the sewer, rampaging down the street and feasting on the town's population. The town's Reverend Meeker proclaims the scene to be the prophesied end of the world, after which a failed flamethrower attack on the Blob sets him ablaze. Meg saves him with a fire extinguisher, and in the process blasts the Blob with it. When the monster backs off, she realizes that the Blob cannot tolerate cold.
The survivors retreat to the town hall and hold the Blob off with furniture-barricades and fire extinguishers, but it is a losing battle; the Blob engulfs half the building and devours Briggs. Brian goes to the town's garage and gets a snow maker truck that has canisters of liquid nitrogen attached. Brian shoots snow at the creature, angering it, and it leaves its attack on the town hall and rams the truck, knocking the canisters onto the street. As the Blob attempts to break into the overturned truck with Brian inside, Meg lures it away from him toward the canisters, which she has rigged with an explosive charge taken from a dying soldier. She tries getting clear, but snags her foot between two pieces of metal, trapping her. Brian frees himself from the truck and rescues Meg. The Blob is about to overrun them when the charge goes off, blowing up the canisters and covering the Blob in liquid nitrogen. The creature is flash-frozen into a mass of crystallized pieces. Moss Woodley has its remains stored in the town ice house.
Later, at a tent-meeting church service in a field, Meeker, disfigured by his burns, preaches a doomsday sermon resembling the Blob's attack. He has a still-living piece of the Blob, trapped inside a glass jar, and hints at planning to unleash it back upon the world when God gives him a sign.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Kevin Dillon as Brian Flagg
- Shawnee Smith as Meg Penny
- Donovan Leitch as Paul Taylor
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Sheriff Herb Geller
- Candy Clark as Fran Hewitt
- Joe Seneca as Dr. Meddows
- Del Close as Reverend Meeker
- Sharon Spelman as Mrs. Penny
- Beau Billingslea as Moss Woolsey
- Art LaFleur as Pharmacist/Tom Penny
- Ricky Paull Goldin as Scott Jeskey
- Paul McCrane as Deputy Bill Briggs
- Michael Kenworthy as Kevin Penny
- Douglas Emerson as Eddie Beckner
- Robert Axelrod as Jennings
- Bill Moseley as The Soldier in the Sewer
- Erika Eleniak as Vicki De Soto
Analysis[edit | edit source]
The film functions as a conspiracy theory film. The threat of the original film was an alien entity from outer space. The remake differs in making the threat a biological weapon, created by a secret government agency. The Blob is closely followed by soldiers and scientists in protective suits. The change reflects the mentality of a more cynical era. The sinister government agents are opposed by rebellious teenager Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon). His depiction as a rebel and a "tough guy punk" includes wearing a leather jacket, sporting long hair, riding a motorcycle, and distrusting authority figures.
Production[edit | edit source]
Screenwriter Frank Darabont first met director Chuck Russell in 1981, while working as a production assistant on the film Hell Night. Before working together on The Blob, the two also collaborated on the script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
Actor Del Close had been scheduled to direct a "mock opera" about Ronald Reagan at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts during the filming of The Blob; however, the production was cancelled and he was unexpectedly available to audition for The Blob.
Production began on January 11, with the cast and crew of approximately 150 staying at a Travelodge in Abbeville, Louisiana. Due to the large amount of night shooting, the cast often slept during the day. On their off days, they watched videos at the hotel and ate crawfish, a popular item of local cuisine.
Special effects in the film were handled by Tony Gardner. Gardner was originally supposed to provide only a few small effects, with special effects artist Lyle Conway originally being in charge of the effects. However, after personnel changes he ended up running a crew of 33, including artist Chet Zar and mechanical effects designer Bill Sturgeon. In creating the titular Blob creature, the special effects team used silk injected with Methacil, a food additive, creating what the team described as a "Blob Quilt". For the few minutes of screen time, near the end of the film, where Reverend Meeker has a scene with fresh burns and another with healed burns, actor Del Close required five-and-a-half hours of makeup preparation for fresh burns, and seven-and-a-half hours for healed burns.
Release[edit | edit source]
The Blob opened in New York and Los Angeles, California on August 5, 1988. It grossed $8,247,943 at the box office. An article in the 27 May 1989 Screen International reported that the film’s domestic box-office gross was “disastrous.”
Critical response[edit | edit source]
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, The Blob holds a 62% approval rating based on 26 critic reviews, with an average rating of 5.82/10. The consensus reads: "The Blob can't replicate the B-movie charms of the original, though its fast pace and gory thrills pack enough of a punch to make it a worthwhile update."
Author and film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film two out of a possible four stars, calling it a "Needless, if undeniably gooey, remake". Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that the film "is more violent than the original, more spectacular, more cynical, more patently commercial and more attentive to detail", but noted that "for reasons having nothing to do with merit, the 1958 film earned a place in history. The remake, enterprising as it is, won't do the same".
Retrospective reviews have typically been more favorable. Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine wrote that the film "improves on the original cult classic with inventive, gracefully repulsive special effects and an agreeable post-Watergate anti-authoritarian message". HorrorNews.net gave the film a score of "4 1/2 out of 5", writing that "the twists that this film takes that differ from the original make it all the more terrifying and oddly enough... plausible". TV Guide gave the film 3/5 stars, calling it "a fine, multilayered effort from a director who understands the genre and appreciates its traditions".
Discussing the poor critical and commercial performance of the film in an interview with Starlog, director Chuck Russell stated, "Maybe it was a mistake to do a remake of The Blob with a sense of humor. I thought that would be an entertaining interpretation. … Unfortunately, it was released late in a very hectic summer filled with big films and it didn't have a particularly good ad campaign."
Home media[edit | edit source]
The film was released on DVD in the United States by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on September 11, 2001. Sony again released The Blob in September 2013 as part of its "The 4-Movie Horror Unleashed Collection", along with Fright Night, Christine and The Seventh Sign. The film was first released on Blu-ray in the United States by Twilight Time on October 14, 2014. On October 29, 2019, Shout! Factory's "Scream Factory" imprint issued a "Collector's Edition" of the film on Blu-ray, with a multitude of new bonus features.