Original theatrical film release poster
|Directed by||Irvin Yeaworth|
|Produced by||Jack H. Harris|
|Written by||Kay Linaker
|Story by||Irving H. Millgate|
|Music by||Ralph Carmichael
|Cinematography||Thomas E. Spalding|
|Edited by||Alfred Hillmann|
Valley Forge Films
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$4 million|
The Blob (a.k.a. The Molten Meteor) is an independently made, 1958 De Luxe color, American horror/science fiction film directed by Irvin Yeaworth. 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 stars a 27-year-old Steve McQueen in his debut leading role as a teenager, and Aneta Corsaut, as his co-star. The plot depicts a growing corrosive alien amoeba that crashes from outer space in a meteorite and engulfs and dissolves citizens in the small community of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. The origin of The Blob is never identified, and the film ends with a question mark.
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 meteor 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 shop. 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 freezer. 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 a number of the audience. 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 has 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 this causes the Blob to recoil, then remembers that the creature also retreated from the freezer. Shouting in hopes of being picked up 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 20 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 aircraft to transport the Blob to the Arctic, where it is parachuted to the ice. Dave says that while the Blob is not dead, at least it has been stopped. To this, Steve Andrews replies with the last line in the film, "Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold."
- Steve McQueen as Steve Andrews (credited as Steven McQueen)
- Aneta Corsaut as Jane Martin
- Earl Rowe as Lieutenant Dave
- Olin Howland as Old Man [Note 1]
- Stephen Chase as Dr. Hallen
- John Benson as Sergeant Jim Bert
- George Karas as Officer Ritchie
- Lee Payton as Kate
- Elbert Smith as Mr. Martin
- Hugh Graham as Mr. Andrews
- Keith Almoney as Danny Martin
The film was originally titled The Molten Meteor until producers overheard screenwriter Kay Linaker refer to the movie's monster as "the blob." 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.[Note 2]
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. Filmed in and around Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the primary photography took place at Valley Forge Studios. Several scenes were filmed in the towns of Chester Springs, Downingtown, Phoenixville and Royersford, including the basement of a local restaurant named Chef's. 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. [Note 3] The Blob was filmed in color and widescreen.
McQueen received only $3,000 for this film; he had turned down an offer for a smaller up-front sum with ten 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. The Blob ended up grossing $4 million.
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. Though legend has it that the opening novelty song was composed by a young and unknown Burt Bacharach, along with Bacharach's famous songwriting partner, Hal David. David's brother Mack composed the lyrics and Bacharach had already achieved some measure of success by the time the film was released.
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.
According to Tim Dirks, the film was one of a wave of "cheap teen movies" released for the drive-in market. They consisted of "exploitative, cheap fare created especially for [young people] in a newly-established teen/drive-in genre."
When The Blob premiered as the B film of the Double with I Married a Monster from Outer Space, it was quickly moved up to feature film status. While audiences liked the film, critics were not as kind. The review in The New York Times highlighted some of the problems and identified some positives, although Steve McQueen's debut was not one of them. Concentrating on director Irvin Yeaworth's work, "Unfortunately, his picture talks itself to death, even with the blob nibbling away at everybody in sight. And most of his trick effects, under the direction of Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., look pretty phony."
The review continued with, "On the credit side, the camera very snugly frames the small town background—a store, a church spire, several homes and a theatre. The color is quite good (the blob rolls around in at least a dozen horrible-looking flavors, including raspberry). If the acting is pretty terrible itself, there is becomingly not a single familiar face in the cast, headed by young Steven McQueen and Aneta Corseaut."
Variety had a similar reaction, seeing McQueen as the star, gamely "giving the old college try" but that the "... Star performers, however, are the camerawork of Thomas Spalding and Barton Sloane’s special effects."
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes records that reviewers give The Blob mixed to positive reviews earning an approval rating of 66%. The "critics" consensus stating: "In spite of its chortle-worthy premise and dated special effects, The Blob remains a prime example of how satisfying cheesy B-movie monster thrills can be."[Note 4] [Note 5]
The Blob's cult following is alive and well in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania where The Colonial Theatre is located. A yearly celebration named BlobFest features a reenactment of the crowd fleeing The Colonial as well as double feature screenings of The Blob paired with sci-fi creature feature classics.
The Blob 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 film, 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.
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.
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 on another remake, but is no longer working on this project.
In January 2015 Zombie was replaced by Simon West to direct the remake. The film will be produced by Richard Saperstein and Brian Witten, together with the producer of the origin Jack H. Harris, as executive producer.
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. 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, who has written a book about the making of The Blob.
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". 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?"
Film historians Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester noted that the film was: "Filmed in southeastern Pennsylvania at Valley Forge Studios, (and) this very famous piece of pop culture is a model of a decent movie on a small budget."
The technique of displaying "The End" for the closing title, shortly followed by a question mark, was used in the 1980 film version of Flash Gordon.
A clip of The Blob is one of the films playing at the drive-in in the film Grease.
- Olin Howland appeared in his last film role.
- "During the production, crew members 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.'"
- 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".
- Note that the Rotten Tomatoes reviews of The Blob do not include any professional or experienced "top critics".
- 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.
- Weaver 2002, p. 91.
- Hevesi, Dennis. "Kate Phillips, actress who christened 'The Blob', is dead at 94." The New York Times, April 27, 2008.
- Biodrowski, Steve. "Retrospective: The Blob." Cinefantastique, January 1989. Retrieved: January 6, 2015.
- Thompson, Lang. "Articles: The Blob." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: January 6, 2015.
- Dirks,Tim."The 1950s: The Cold War and Post-Classical Era, The Era of Epic Films, and the Threat of Television, Part 1." American Movie Classics Company LLC., 2015. Retrieved: July 7, 2015.
- Thompson, Harold. "Movie review: The Blob (1958); 'The Blob' slithers into Mayfair." The New York Times, November 7, 1958.
- "Review: The Blob." Variety, January 31, 1957.
- "The Blob." Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: January 7, 2015.
- "Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson on Aliens." Youtube. Retrieved: July 11, 2015.
- "A preview of Phoenixville's 2015 BlobFest." philly.com. Retrieved: July 11, 2015.
- "The Blob: Son of Blob." Umbrella Entertainment. Retrieved: May 28, 2013.
- Fleming, Michael. "Rob Zombie to remake 'The Blob'" Variety, August 27, 2009.
- "Horror Nights '09: Rob Zombie on 'The Blob' and making music." BloodyDisgusting, October 5, 2009.
- "Rob Zombie: First Image From 'The Lords Of Salem' Movie." BlabberMouth, April 26, 2011.
- Squires, John."Simon West boards Second remake of The Blob." Dread Central, January 22, 2015. Retrieved: July 7, 2015.
- Tartaglione, Nancy. "Simon West To Helm ‘The Blob’ Remake; Goldcrest Selling At EFM – Berlin." Deadline Hollywood, January 22, 2015. Retrieved: July 7, 2015.
- Lidz, Franz. "Movies: The Blob". The New York Times, June 10, 2007. Retrieved: January 6, 2015.
- "Wes Shank". Theblobbook.com. Retrieved: March 7, 2012.
- Shank 2009, p. 120.
- Sharlet 2008, p. 181.
- Judd, Orrin. "Does Anyone Else Find It Peculiar ..." BrothersJudd Blog, October 28, 2008. Retrieved: July 22, 2011.
- Holston and Winchester 1997, p. 61.
- Holston, Kim R. and Tom Winchester. Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Sequels, Series and Remakes: An Illustrated Filmography. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1997. ISBN 978-0-7864-0155-0.
- Magrì, Antonio. Di Blob in Blob. Analisi di semiotica comparata. Cinema Tv e Linguaggio del corpo. Roome: Aracne editrice, 2009. ISBN 978-8-85482-711-0.
- Shank, Wes. From Silicone to the Silver Screen: Memoirs of the Blob (1958). Los Angeles: Wes Shank, 2009. ISBN 978-0-57804-728-7.
- Sharlet, Jeff. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. New York: Harper, 2008. ISBN 978-0-06056-005-8.
- Weaver, Tom. Interview with Russ Doughton in Science Fiction Confidential: Interviews with 23 Monster Stars and Filmmakers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2002. ISBN 978-0-78641-175-7.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Blob|
- The Blob (1958) at the Internet Movie Database
- The Blob at the TCM Movie Database
- The Blob at AllMovie
- The Blob at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Blob at Rotten Tomatoes
- Blobermouth (1990) at the Internet Movie Database The Blob (1958) redubbed with a comedy soundtrack.
- The Blob Site – Location tour, trivia, Blobfest
- Criterion Collection essay by Bruce Kawin
- The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA – An historic, non-profit theatre and location in The Blob
- From Silicone To The Silver Screen – Book about the making of The Blob
- Producer Jack H. Harris interview, July, 2015