The Blob

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This article is about the 1958 film. For the 1988 remake, see The Blob (1988 film). For other meanings of this term, see Blob (disambiguation).
The Blob
The Blob poster.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Irvin Yeaworth
Produced by Jack H. Harris
Written by Kay Linaker
Theodore Simonson
Story by Irving H. Millgate
Starring Steve McQueen
Aneta Corsaut
Earl Rowe
Olin Howland
Music by Ralph Carmichael
Burt Bacharach
Cinematography Thomas E. Spalding
Edited by Alfred Hillmann
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Umbrella Entertainment
Release date(s) September 12, 1958
Running time 82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $110,000[1]
Box office $4 million[1]

The Blob is an independently made 1958 American horror/science-fiction film that depicts a growing alien amoeba that crashes from outer space in a meteorite and eats and dissolves citizens at the small community of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. In the style of American International Pictures, Paramount Pictures released the film as a double feature with I Married a Monster from Outer Space.

The film was Steve McQueen's debut leading role, and also starred Aneta Corsaut. The film's tongue-in-cheek title song was written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David and became a nationwide hit in the U.S. It was recorded by studio group the Five Blobs – actually singer Bernie Knee overdubbing himself.[2]

Plot[edit]

The film takes place during one long night in a small rural Pennsylvania town in July 1957. Teenager Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and his girlfriend Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) are kissing on a lovers' lane when they see a meteorite crash beyond the next hill. Steve decides to look for it. An old man (Olin Howland) living nearby finds it first. When he pokes the meteorite with a stick, it breaks open, and the small jelly-like blob inside attaches itself to his hand. In pain and unable to scrape or shake it loose, the old man runs onto the road, where he is nearly struck by Steve's car. Steve and Jane take him to Doctor Hallen (Stephen Chase).

Doctor Hallen is about to leave for a medical conference, but anesthetizes the man and sends Steve and Jane back to the impact site to gather information. Hallen decides he must amputate the man's arm since it is being consumed by the growing Blob. Before he can, however, the Blob completely consumes the old man, then Hallen's nurse, and finally the doctor himself, all the while increasing in size.

Steve and Jane return to the office in time for Steve to witness the doctor's death. They go to the police station and return to the house with Lieutenant Dave (Earl Rowe) and Sergeant Bert (John Benson). However, there is no sign of the creature or its victims, and Bert dismisses Steve's story as a teenage prank. Steve and Jane are taken home by their parents, but they later sneak out.

In the meantime, the Blob consumes a mechanic at a repair store. The Blob grows in size every time it consumes something. At the Colonial Theater, which is showing a midnight screening of Daughter of Horror, Steve recruits Tony (Robert Fields) and some of his friends to warn people about the menace. When Steve notices that his father's grocery store is unlocked, he and Jane go inside. The janitor is nowhere to be seen. Then the couple are cornered by the Blob; they seek refuge in the walk-in icebox. The Blob oozes in under the door but retreats. Steve and Jane gather their friends and set off the town's fire and air-raid alarms. The townspeople and police still refuse to believe Steve. Meanwhile, the Blob enters the Colonial Theater and engulfs the projectionist before oozing into the auditorium consuming an unknown number of people. Steve is finally vindicated when screaming people flee from the theater.

Jane's young brother, Danny (Keith Almoney), fires at the Blob with his cap gun before running into the nearby diner. Jane, Danny, and Steve become trapped in that diner, along with the manager,and a waitress. The Blob–now an enormous red mass from the people it consumed–engulfs the diner. Dave has a connection made from his police radio to the diner's phone, telling those in the diner to get into the cellar before they try to bring a live power line down onto the Blob.

When it sounds quiet over the phone line, Bert shoots the wire, it falls onto the Blob, but the Blob is unaffected and the diner is set ablaze. The manager uses a CO2 fire extinguisher on the fire. Steve notices that it also causes the Blob to recoil, then remembers that the creature also retreated from the freezer. Shouting in hopes of being picked on the open phone line, Steve manages to tell Dave about the Blob's vulnerability to cold. Jane's father, Mr. Martin (Elbert Smith), knows there are twenty such extinguishers at the school, and leads Steve's friends to the high school to retrieve them. Returning, the brigade of extinguisher-armed students and police first drive the Blob away from the diner, then freeze it, saving Steve, Jane and the others.

Dave requests an Air Force heavy-lift cargo plane to transport the Blob to the Arctic, where it is parachuted to the ice as the film ends with a question mark.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was originally titled The Molten Meteor until producers overheard screenwriter Kay Linaker refer to the movie's monster as "the blob."[3] Other sources give a different account, saying that the film went through a number of title changes (even the monster was called "the mass" in the shooting script) before the makers settled on The Glob, then hearing that cartoonist Walt Kelly had used The Glob as a title for his children's book, and mistakenly believing that they could no longer use it as a title, they changed it to The Blob.[4]

The Blob was directed by Irvin Yeaworth, who had directed more than 400 films for motivational, educational, and religious purposes. Though the budget was set at $120,000 it ended up costing $110,000.[1]

The Blob was filmed in and around Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The primary shooting took place at Valley Forge Studios, and several scenes were filmed in the towns of Chester Springs, Downingtown, Phoenixville and Royersford, including the basement of a local restaurant named Chef's. (The setting is apparently Downingtown Pennsylvania itself as the one policeman identifies his department's office as "Downingtown HQ to East Cornwall HQ" over the two-way radio during his chess game, and the final scenes take place in a restaurant that is clearly labeled "Downingtown Diner".) It was filmed in color and widescreen.

For the diner scene a photograph of the building was put on a gyroscopically operated table with cameras mounted. The table was shaken and the Blob rolled off. When the film was run in reverse it appeared to be oozing over the building.

McQueen received only $3,000 for this film; he had turned down an offer for a smaller up-front sum with 10 percent of the profits because he did not think the movie would make any money and he needed the money immediately to pay for food and rent; it ended up grossing $4 million.[1]

Though legend has it that the opening novelty song was composed by a young and unknown Burt Bacharach (along with Hal David, Burt's famous songwriting partner), Bacharach had already achieved some measure of success by the time the film was released, and the lyrics to the song were composed by David's brother Mack.

The background score for The Blob was composed by Ralph Carmichael. It was one of just a few film scores that Carmichael wrote. Carmichael is best known for his musical associations with Billy Graham and for arranging The Magic of Christmas for Nat King Cole. Carmichael also composed the original theme for the film, entitled "Violence" on the soundtrack album, which started the film on a serious and frightening note. It was against the director's wishes to replace the original theme song with that by Bacharach/David. However, because the latter encourages audiences to view The Blob as campy fun, it has contributed to the film's enduring popularity. Both Carmichael's score and Bacharach/David's song were released in 2008 by the Monstrous Movie Music soundtrack label.

Reception[edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes records that modern critics give The Blob mixed to positive reviews earning an approval rating of 69%.

In a discussion with biologist Richard Dawkins, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson stated that among all Hollywood aliens, which were usually disappointing from a scientific perspective, The Blob was his favourite. [5]

The Blob: The Musical[edit]

Written and produced by Dan Kehde and Mark Scarpelli Featuring Songs “Duck and Cover” “A Boy To Hold Me” “Midnight Monster Marathon” "It Ate Nurse Kate" “Too Young To Ever Fall In Love” “Rocket Route Forty” “Little Moon"

Sequel[edit]

A sequel, Beware! The Blob, was made in 1972, directed by Larry Hagman. Home video releases used the tagline "The Movie That J.R. Shot", in reference to his character's near-demise in the television series Dallas.

Remake[edit]

In 1988, a remake of the same name was made, and directed by Chuck Russell. In August 2009, it was revealed that musician turned director Rob Zombie was working another remake,[6][7] but is no longer working on this project.[8]

Home media[edit]

The film has been released as part of the Criterion Collection on three formats. First in 1988 on Laserdisc, then in 2000 on DVD and in 2013 on Blu-ray.

The Blob together with Son of Blob was released on DVD in Australia by Umbrella Entertainment in September 2011. The DVD is compatible with all region codes and includes special features such as audio commentaries with Jack H. Harris, Bruce Eder, Irvin Yeaworth and Robert Fields.[9]

Legacy[edit]

Since 2000, the town of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania – one of the filming locations – has held an annual "Blobfest". Activities include a re-enactment of the scene in which moviegoers run screaming from the town's Colonial Theatre, which has recently been restored.[10] Chef's Diner in Downingtown is also restored, and is open for business or photographs of the basement on weekday mornings only.

The Blob itself was made from silicone, with increasing amounts of red vegetable dye added as it "absorbed" people. In 1965, it was bought by movie collector Wes Shank,[11] who has written a book about the making of The Blob.[12]

According to Jeff Sharlet in his book The Family, The Blob was "about the creeping horrors of communism" only defeated "by freezing it – the Cold War writ small and literal."[13] Rudy Nelson, one of the scriptwriters for the film, has denied many of Sharlet's assertions, saying "What on earth can Sharlet say about the movie that will fill 23 pages – especially when what he thinks he knows is all wrong?"[14]


References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Weaver, Tom. Interview with Russ Doughton in Science Fiction Confidential: Interviews with 23 Monster Stars and Filmmakers McFarland, 2002. p.91
  2. ^ TCM Meteor Night – The Blob. Retrieved from [1][dead link].
  3. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Kate Phillips, Actress Who Christened The Blob, Is Dead at 94", New York Times, (Apr 27, 2008)
  4. ^ Biodrowski, Steve. "Retrospective: The Blob" Cinefantastique (January 1989). "During the production, crewmembers were invited to write any title they could imagine for the film. 'The one that used to get all the laughs when people repeated it,' recalled Harris, 'was THE GLOB THAT GIRDLED THE GLOBE. We had another one: ABSORBINE SENIOR. I liked that. And, THE NIGHT OF THE CREEPING DREAD. We were really serious about that one, because it was a ‘tuxedo’ title; THE GLOB THAT GIRDLED THE GLOBE was a ‘dumb’ title. I love one-word titles, having distributed many of them, so I said, ‘Let’s call it THE GLOB.’ Finally everybody agreed. We were applying for copyright, and somebody had done a little investigation and found there was a book called The Glob, by Walt Kelly, the cartoonist. I didn’t know any better then. Today, I know I could have called the picture THE GLOB, because you can’t copyright titles.'"
  5. ^ Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson on Aliens
  6. ^ Fleming, Michael. "Rob Zombie to remake 'The Blob'" Variety (Aug 27, 2009)
  7. ^ "Horror Nights '09: Rob Zombie on 'The Blob' and Making Music". BloodyDisgusting. Oct 5, 2009. 
  8. ^ "ROB ZOMBIE: First Image From 'The Lords Of Salem' Movie Released". BlabberMouth. Apr 26, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Umbrella Entertainment". Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Lidz, Franz (June 10, 2007). "The Blob – Movies – New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved November 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Wes Shank". Theblobbook.com. Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  12. ^ Wes Shank (2009). From Silicone to the Silver Screen: Memoirs of the Blob (1958) (Paperback). Wes Shank (2009). p. 120. ISBN 978-0578047287. 
  13. ^ Sharlet, Jeff. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (New York: Harper, 2008), p.181.
  14. ^ Judd, Orrin (Oct 28, 2008). "Does Anyone Else Find It Peculiar ...". BrothersJudd Blog. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 

Bibliography

  • Magrì, Antonio. Di Blob in Blob. Analisi di semiotica comparata. Cinema Tv e Linguaggio del corpo, Aracne editrice, Roma, 2009

External links[edit]