THE BLOB (1988)
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Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of the 1958 classic The Blob is simply a really fun monster movie that takes the spirit and basic structure of the original film, but adds it’s own twists to keep it fresh…how a remake like this should be done. It’s also now filled with 80s nostalgia which adds to the entertainment.
The film takes place in the small town of Arborville, California where the biggest concern till now, is if it’s going to snow enough to support the upcoming ski season…which fuels the rural town’s economy…or asking out the hot cheerleader. When a fiery object falls from the sky, a kindly homeless man (Billy Beck) goes to investigate and gets a corrosive, jelly-like substance on his arm. He’s discovered by local rebel Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon with amazingly 80s hair), hot cheerleader, Meg (Shawnee Smith) and her date, Paul (Donovan Leitch) and taken to a local hospital. The poor man is eaten alive by the goop and the rabidly growing substance takes out Paul, too and escapes into the woods. Despite local law enforcement being skeptical of this monster story, a strange biological containment team arrives along with the mysterious Dr. Meddows (Joe Seneca). Soon the town is quarantined, as the protoplasmic ‘space monster’ beings to prey on the locals, growing larger with each meal. Can Flagg and Meg save the day, or become happy meals for the viscus invader?
With a script co-written by The Walking Dead’s Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell delivers a really action-packed and entertaining horror-thriller that does not skimp on the gore, or spare anyone from the hungry, predatory title creature. He keeps just enough of the story and spirit of the original, including some key scenes, like the movie theater and the monster’s aversion to cold, but crafts his own monster flick. He makes good use of a bigger budget and what was then, more advanced SPFX, to open things up and have a little more fun. He takes his subject matter seriously, but turns the smaller scaled 50s monster movie into a larger scaled sci-fi/action flick and gives us some nice suspense, a fast pace and some very gory demises to make this more of a popcorn entertainment and it really works. On top of the suspense, action and bloody kills, we get some well-rendered FX sequences, though not all of them work perfectly. At the time, the blood, gore and creature work on display here was pretty impressive, though, at this point in time, some haven’t all aged that well. There are still quite a few sequences, though, that hold up quite nicely. Sad that it bombed back in the day, as it is an underrated monster movie, though thankfully it’s recognized as a cult classic now. On a personal note…I was there in my seat in 1988 and had a real blast with it, even before the 80s nostalgia set in and the practical SPFX added a sense of old school charm.
As for the players, the cast all take their roles seriously, but also appear to be having a good time. Kevin Dillon might be a bit too much of a pretty boy, with his shoulder length, permed hair, to initially be taken seriously as ‘rebel without a cause’, delinquent Flagg, but he gives the role his all and we go along with it just fine. Shawnee Smith is very pretty, but also very tough and resourceful, as the cheerleader turned monster fighting heroine and she kinda steals the film from Dillon to boot. Joe Seneca makes an appropriately sinister government scientist, who knows far more about ‘The Blob’ than he lets on and Candy Clark is very sweet and likable as the sassy town cafe owner. The supporting cast, like Del Close as Reverend Meeker, all get the tone of the material and give us some nice secondary characters to root/care for along with our leads.
In conclusion, I really like this movie a lot. It echoes and honors the original, yet does it’s own thing as an 80s monster movie and does it well. It’s played seriously, but has fun with it’s monster story and not all the FX may not have withstood the test of time completely, but are still competently made and being a bit dated only makes them more charming. Add in the 80s nostalgia and this is still a really fun flick even today. A good time creature feature that now comes with some nice added nostalgia!
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) gun toting cheerleaders.