Well…. as I sorta expected, I’ve slipped waaay behind my schedule of reviews for this month, but I’m still in there tryin’ my best! This time out, it’s another look at the sort of film that made lil’ ol’ me such a happy, goofy, wee lil’ girl back in the day, with this “Lil’ Kitten Classics” look at the classic 1958 Scifi horror combo “The Blob”.
Our synopsis reads like this: “Teenagers Steve Andrews (played by Steve McQueen) and his girlfriend Jane Martin (played by Aneta Corsaut) are making out and watching the stars when they see a large meteor fall to Earth nearby so they go in search of it. Before they find it an old man discovers the meteor and the weird jelly creature contained within. It attaches itself to his arm, and by the time the two kids find him the creature is already dissolving him away. They take him to a local doctor for help, but when the monster grows out of control and absorbs both the old man as well as the doctor and his loyal nurse, the kids find themselves unable to convince the local authorities that their peaceful little town is now in deadly peril from…. the Blob!!”
Gooey space monsters that look like cherry jello? As well as the great Steve McQueen in his first starring role? Yep… you just know that this lil’ Catgirl totally ate this one up as a kid. So what’s the big deal about this one? Let’s all “Read On” and see what gives it such memorable class.
Now, first up you gotta know that lil’ Miyuki was waaaaay into monster movies when I was a wee girl. The crazier the better….. vampires, zombies, and wolf men were OK, but what really got me excited were flying saucers, aliens, and mutant monsters from outer space. So when this one showed up on old Saturday morning TV, I was in seventh heaven!! Such a simple concept!! The Blob was nothing more than a giant mass of red jelly…. no eyes… no face… no tentacles… but it sooo totally worked. How could this Halloween pass without giving it another look? (Well…. that and finally be able to tease Carolyn by telling her we were going to watch a Steve McQueen movie last evening….. Somehow I think she was expecting “The Towering Inferno”. I thought she knew me better than that by now…. Hehehehe!!)
This one is an amazing film when you consider that it was originally an independently produced film…. not the product of a major studio. I imagine that Steve McQueen still shakes his head to this day when he thinks about how this was the film that launched his career…. but it’s a nice little example of the early scifi horror genre that came out of the atomic era of the 50’s and that truly blossomed in the space age 60’s. He’s just gotta be kicking himself too…. as he received only a $3,000 paycheck for his role in it. Unfortunately, he turned down the original offer for a smaller up-front payment with a 10 percent take of the profits because he never….ever… in his wildest dreams thought the movie would even make any money at all. Surprisingly, it became a runaway success in the drive in circuit, in great part due to his starring in it just as his new TV series “Wanted: Dead or Alive!” had made him a nationwide star. Thanks to that, this modest lil’ film ended up grossing $4 million. Not bad for some man eating cherry jello on a rampage….
It’s a simple film…. with a simple story from a simpler time, perfect for a wee little monster fan like I was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. We start out on a starry night in small town Pennsylvania with young teenage lovers Steve Andrews (McQueen) and Jane Martin (Corsaut) at the beginning of a date just as a genuine shooting star whizzes out of the sky and slams to Earth so close that Steve just knows they can find where it landed! Before they find it… an old hermit locates the meteor…. and with the gumption of generations of crazy old coots, proceeds to poke the bejeebits out of that ol’ meteor with a stick… Ahhhh!…. makes one nostalgic for the good ol’ days when such colorful characters were always on the front line…. ready to meet any nasty alien menace with such proactive measures!!
That ol’ meteor breaks open…. revealing it’s gooey center, and then promptly running up that ol’ stick to start in on dissolving our nameless geezer but good! Luckily for him, Steve and Jane finally show up, and Steve is quick to hustle the old man off to Doc Hallen for emergency de-“goo-ification”. Unfortunately, it isn’t long before good old Doc and his faithful nurse both get devoured by the rapidly growing alien goo and even though Steve sees it happen the local police remain skeptical. Seems Steve made the mistake of engaging in some drag racing backwards down the highway with some of his juvenile delinquent buddies earlier in the evening… so now his credibility is shot to heck… D’ohh!!
What are Steve and Jane to do? They’re the typical 50’s teens… all patriotic and basically good eggs with no desire to see their friends and neighbors eaten up by an alien monster even if the police and parents think it’s all just some goofy teen prank. There’s only one solution…. sneak out together and go all “Scooby Doo” with those same delinquents to find the space goo and save the town.
The Blob goes around doing… well… “Blob” stuff…. You know, eating up unsuspecting people, sneaking through tiny places and finally attacking the local theater during the Midnight Movie Fright show. Nothing seems to stop the thing…. not bullets… not acid… not fire. It’s only at the very end when our two plucky heroes get trapped in a diner that the thing’s Achilles heel is finally revealed. It can’t stand cold…. so the local fire department and police seize all the CO2 fire extinguishers they can lay their hands on and put it on ice till the army can show up and fly the critter to the arctic where… hopefully… it’ll stay frozen forever. A simple, pat ending… but ever so nice. Watching it again, I was tickled by the incredibly easy way that a local deputy was able to summon army units to thwart the alien menace… over the phone without any apparent difficulty!! Try that nowadays…. the paperwork wouldn’t even go through till the monster had taken over completely…. Ahhhh, the 1950’s… when monsters ran amok and the army was on alert against them 24/7. Gives you a warm fuzzy feeling of comfort and security. Hehehehe!!
At 82 minutes, “The Blob” doesn’t stray too far away from it’s simple story… but that’s OK. We never learn anything at all about it, but… you don’t really need to. I found this one a neat little movie… although grown up Miyuki did notice one thing that lil’ Miyuki never did. You never once actually see the Blob eat anybody! No kidding! It always happens just off screen, but somehow, the descriptions of people being… dissolved… was more than enough to give me shivers back then. Kudos for managing the difficult “less is more” approach to film making…. I truly never realized that way back then, and had always imagined that I had seen the goo eat people.
Not a great movie…. but one that has earned greatness through it’s longevity and fun original monster that has spawned a host of imitators since it first oozed across the screen, Neko gives “The Blob” a well deserved 4 “Meows” out of 5. While many other films made for far larger budgets fail, this one gives you every penny on screen, and is even done in wide screen and color…. Can’t beat that! Got a monster loving child in your life? Then you could do far worse things than to introduce them to this classic…. they’ll love it as much as I did.
Trailer? Of course there’s a Trailer…. and as an added bonus we get one for “Beware! The Blob!” as well…. Enjoy!!