The Blob (1988 film)
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Chuck Russell|
|Produced by||Jack H. Harris
|Screenplay by||Chuck Russell
|Story by||Irving H. Millgate|
|Based on||The Blob
by Theodore Simonson
|Music by||Michael Hoenig|
|Edited by||Tod Feuerman
Palisades, California Inc.
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
The Blob is a 1988 monster horror film written by Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, and directed by Russell. It stars Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark and Joe Seneca. This film is a remake of the 1958 film The Blob, which starred Steve McQueen.
The movie opens with a highschool football game in the fictional town of Arborville, California. The audience is introduced to Paul Taylor and Scott Jeskey, two football players, and Meg Penny, a cheerleader. After the game, Paul asks Meg out on a date. The scene intercuts with Brian Flagg, a delinquent, attempting to jump his motorcycle over the broken bridge at Elkin's Grove. As a homeless man watches, his motorcycle misfires and he falls, but is not injured. Brian then hitches a ride back to town and goes to the garage of his friend, Moss Woodley (Beau Billingslea), to borrow tool set. At the local diner, sheriff Herb asks Fran, the diner owner, out; she leaves him a note saying she's off at 11 pm.
That evening, a meteorite crashes near Elkin's Grove, and the titular Blob, a jelly-like substance, attaches itself to the homeless man who investigates the crash. Paul arrives at Meg's house to take her out on their first date, and meets Meg's brother Kevin, and his friend Eddie, as the two go to the theater to see a slasher film (Eddie's brother, Anthony, who works as the usher, lets them in despite their young age). As Paul drives with Meg, the panicked homeless man runs into Flagg, who's repairing his motorcycle. He tries unsuccessfully to chop his hand off, then rushes to the road and almost gets run over by Paul. Paul and Meg decide to take him to the hospital, and Paul insists that Brian comes along.
At the hospital, after the nurse refuses to give the man immediate medical attention, Brian leaves for his motorcycle, while Paul and Meg stay to fill out the forms. Paul then witnesses the lower half of the man completely consumed by the Blob. As he calls the sheriff for help, the Blob drops on top of him. Meg tries to free Paul, but is thrown against a wall and knocked unconscious, the Blob consumes Paul. It then kills Scott and Vicki, who are drinking in a car at a secluded spot not far from the hospital.
The police arrive at the hospital, but refuse to believe Meg's story, send her home and detain Brian. At the police station, failing to find any evidence against him, the police release him. Sheriff Herb sees Fran's note and heads to the diner. Meg, still upset that no one believes her, sneaks out of the house to the police station to meet Brian. As the two talk at Fran's diner, the Blob enters the pipeline, then grabs the diner's handyman and pulls him down the sink drain. It pursues Meg and Brian to the diner's walk-in freezer, but recoils from the cold and retreats. Fran escapes the diner, and heads to the nearby phonebooth to call the sheriff. The Blob, having devoured Herb offscreen, crushes the phone booth and kills Fran. After Brian and Meg exit the freezer and leave for the police station, the town's Reverend Meeker witnesses the Blob squeezing down the sewer, and collects some of the pink-colored crystals left behind by the Blob in the walk-in freezer.
At the police station, Meg and Brian are told the Sheriff Herb is missing, and Deputy Briggs is near the meteor-landing site. They discover a military operation led by a scientist, Dr. Meddows, who orders the two captured and the town quarantined. Brian escapes a military van and collects his motorbike. Meg is taken to town where she learns that Kevin and Eddie are at the theater. The Blob infiltrates the theater and attacks the staff then the audience. Meg arrives as the audience is fleeing the theater and manages to rescue Eddie and Kevin. The three then escape down the sewer, pursued by the Blob.
Brian eavesdrops on Meddows and learns that the Blob is a biological warfare experiment created during the Cold War. Learning that the Blob has entered the sewers, Meddows decides to trap it there. Brian is discovered listening in and drives his motorcycle into the sewers. After Eddie is devoured, Kevin escapes to the surface and Brian saves Meg. Having escaped the sewers, Brian confronts Meddows in front of the townsfolk and Deputy Briggs. Failing to convince people that Brian is contaminated and must die, Meddows attempts to shoot Brian himself, but is killed by the Blob. The monster proceeds to feast upon the population, while proving impervious to firearms and explosives. In the ensuing panic, Reverend Meeker proclaims the scene to be the prophesied end of the world, and is set ablaze by a failed flamethrower attack on the Blob. Meg saves the reverend with a fire extinguisher, and in the process blasts the Blob with it, which repels the monster. Remembering that it retreats from the walk-in freezer, Meg deduces that the Blob cannot tolerate cold.
The surviving humans retreat to the town hall and hold the Blob at bay with furniture-barricades and fire extinguishers. Their situation grows increasingly desperate as the Blob engulfs half of the building and devours Briggs. Brian goes to Moss's garage and gets a snow maker truck that has canisters of liquid nitrogen attached. Just as the Blob is about to devour Meg and her family, Brian drives to town hall and shoots snow at the creature, which knocks the truck over. As the Blob surges toward Brian, Meg lures it away from him and towards the canisters. She has rigged the canisters with an explosive charge taken from a dying soldier. The charge goes off, destroying the canisters and covering the Blob with liquid nitrogen. The creature is flash-frozen, shattering into a mass of crystallized pieces. Moss has its remains hauled away to the town ice house.
The film cuts to a tent-meeting church service in a field, where Meeker, disfigured by his burn injuries, is now crazed and preaching a doomsday sermon sounding like the Blob's attack. Asked when the time of reckoning will come, he replies "Soon... Madame... soon... the Lord will give me a sign." He holds up a glass jar containing a fragment of the Blob, which he earlier collected at Fran's diner. It has thawed and is slowly moving.
- Kevin Dillon as Brian Flagg
- Shawnee Smith as Megan "Meg" Penny
- Donovan Leitch as Pauthaniel "Paul" Taylor
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Sheriff Herbert "Herb" Geller
- Candy Clark as Francine "Fran" Hewitt
- Joe Seneca as Dr. Christopher Meddows
- Del Close as Reverend Jacob Meeker
- Paul McCrane as Deputy William "Bill" Briggs
- Robert Axelrod as Jennings
- Beau Billingslea as Moss Woodley
- Douglas Emerson as Edward "Eddie" Beckner
- Jamison Newlander as Anthony Beckner
- Judith Flanagan as Eddie's Mother
- Art LaFleur as Pharmacist/Thomas "Tom" Penny
- Sharon Spelman as Debra Penny
- Billy Beck as Can Man
- Bill Moseley as Soldier #2
- Erika Eleniak as Victoria "Vicki" De Soto
- Ricky Paull Goldin as Prescott "Scott" Jeske
- Frank Collison as Hobbs
- Michael Kenworthy as Kevin Penny
- Jack Rader as Col. Hargis
- Clayton Landey as George Ruit
- Noble Craig as Puddle Soldier
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. The opera, entitled Ron Giovanni, was to feature the writing of Tony Hendra and the music of Paul Jacobs in a story that combined details of Reagan's life with the story of Don Juan. Rehearsals were to run during November and December of 1987, with an opening date of January 22, 1988. However, the production was cancelled by Lincoln Center's artistic director Gregory Mosher, out of concern that the show's satire was not as funny and unbelievable as some recent actions performed by the real Reagan, such as the controversy over his visit to the German cemetery at Bitburg housing the bodies of members of the Waffen-SS. As a result, the Chicago-based Close was unexpectedly available to audition for The Blob in New York at a time when Russell was conducting auditions in the city. Fortuitously for Close, he had recently written a blob-themed story for the DC Comics horror anthology Wasteland, while Russell had just watched an example of Close's work as the in-flight movie on his flight in to New York, Brian DePalma's The Untouchables. Close had worked in the past as a fire eater and human torch, and he was set on fire for some insert shots within the film. He also lost a substantial amount of weight at the request of Russell, dropping from 198 pounds to 173 pounds during the course of the production.
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 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, but after personnel changes he ended up running a crew of 33, including artist Chet Zar and mechanical effects designer Bill Sturgeon. Close's makeup for his role as Reverend Meeker required extensive preparation time: five and a half hours for scenes where Meeker had fresh burns, and seven and a half hours for scenes after his burns had healed.
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, driving a motorcycle, and distrusting authority figures. 
Jacqueline Foertsch argues that the blob of the original film served as a symbol of communist ideology. The more "deathlike" 1980s version served as a metaphor for the AIDS pandemic.  The dull-red colors of the original changes here to a glistening, pearly grey. The change makes the creature resemble a mucous membrane.  While the original creature rolled and lumbered on, the newer version slides and strikes aggressively, using phallic tentacles.  The original blob was a singular organism which increased its size, strength, and velocity by feeding. The newer version not only enlarges itself, but also splits into multiple parts, allowing for simultaneous attacks in multiple locations. Indeed the largest part of the creatures is eventually frozen and contained, but a crazed preacher hoards a few shards, implying the survival of the threat. 
Foertsch calls attention to another significant shift from the original. The blob invades the bodies of its victims and springs from the remnants of a previous host to seize a new victim. For example, Vicki is infiltrated by the creature and becomes its host. When Scott reaches to touch her breast, the creature emerges to engulf him. 
|This section requires expansion. (November 2014)|
- Donovan, Barna William (2011), "Aliens, Rugged Individualists, and Incompetent Conspirators: Conspiract Films of the 1980s", Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786486151
- Foertsch, Jacqueline (2001), "Two Takes on a Scare: Cinematic Plague Texts and their Remakes", Enemies Within: The Cold War and the AIDS Crisis in Literature, Film, and Culture, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 978-0252026379
- O'Neill, William L. (2007), "The "Good" War: National Security and American Culture", in Bacevich, Andrew J., The Long War: A New History of U.S. National Security Policy Since World War II, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231505864
- Emery, Robert J. The Directors - Take Four. Allworth Communications, Inc., 2003, p. 201. ISBN 1581152795
- Johnson, Kim "Howard". The Funniest One in the Room: The Lives and Legends of Del Close. Chicago Review Press, 2008, p. 300. ISBN 1556527128
- Gerard, Jeremy. "Lincoln Center Drops Play", The New York Times, December 24, 1987.
- Johnson, pp. 301-302.
- Johnson, p. 303.
- Johnson, pp. 303-304.
- Johnson, pp. 305-306.
- Johnson, p. 306.
- Johnson, p. 304-305.
- Johnson, p. 305.
- Timpone, Anthony. "Men, makeup, and monsters". Macmillan, 1996, p. 187. ISBN 0-312-14678-7
- O'Neill (2007), unnumbered pages
- Donovan (2011), p. 129
- Foertsch (2001), p. 182-184
- "The Blob". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- "The Blob". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- Twilight Time Release Schedule
- The Blob at the Internet Movie Database
- The Blob at AllMovie
- The Blob at Box Office Mojo
- The Blob at Rotten Tomatoes
- Retrospective article in Cinefantastique magazine
- Good Bad Flicks review