Blob, The (1988)

Reviewed By MP Bartley
Posted 10/13/04 00:16:11

"No, it's not about an angry girlfriend with raging PMT..."
4 stars (Worth A Look)'s instead a seriously sick, gloopy and fun 80's sci-fi update of the old 50's matinee 'classic'. And like the other notable 80's updates of 50's films like 'The Thing' and 'The Fly', it stands head and shoulders above the original.

Arberville is your typical sleepy, small-town slice of Americana. Everybody knows everyone and the most excitement the town has is the local college football game or a new country and western band hitting the bars.

Until a meteorite crashes into a nearby field containing a sticky lump of goo which attaches itself to an unlucky tramp before quickly expanding its size and threatening the townsfolk. Can our heroes, the plucky cheerleader Meg (Shawnee Smith, more recently seen with a bear trap on her head in 'Saw') and the biker boy with a truly outstanding mullet Brian (Kevin Dillon), save the day?

I love 80's sci-fi and horror flicks because when they're done well, they have a lack of pretension and just set out to entertain without being too blatant about their money-making intent.

'The Blob' is just one such film and also has the pleasure of being hilariously dated. Dillon's mullet has to be seen to believed, indeed it's the only entertaining thing about his performance. Otherwise he just snarls his way through a bunch of tough guy cliches. Look, he drinks, he smokes, he wears leather and rides a motorbike while giving the finger to the authorities! Oh, he's a bad boy alright. Smith is much better as she transforms from a wholesome cheerleader to a teenage Ellen Ripley taking on the house sized blob with nothing but a fire extinguisher. At one point she almost cries "Stay away from her you bitch!". Almost.

It's actually the lesser-players that make the biggest impact from Candy Clark as the restaurant owner to Art LeFleur as Meg's Dad and Jeffrey DeMuun as the local sheriff, who all give the town a little colour and detail that most films of this type tend to ignore. Rarer still, is the fact that you give half a damn about most of the characters that get munched (or glooped. Or melted. Or whatever the hell it is that the blob does to them). And this is a film that isn't afraid to kill off a lot of the more appealing characters.

That's just a nice aside that the script by director Chuck Russell and, strangely, Frank 'Shawshank' Darabont has besides pulling several great set-pieces out of the bag. The fashion and the hairstyles may have dated, but thankfully the special effects haven't. They still work terrifically (for the most part) such as sucking one unfortunate down a plughole or someone being snapped in half. Add to that scenes such as an attack on a cinema (taken from the original) leading to a creepy sewer chase and the final attack at the town hall and you have one of the best directed 80's action flicks that more than stands the test of time.

The original is nothing more than a 50's curiosity piece, mainly notable for an early appearance by Steve McQueen. The remake however has a lot more going for it and stands as a rather neglected gem.

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