The Blob (1988 film)
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Theatrical release 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
J. Peter Robinson
|Edited by||Tod Feuerman
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$8.2 million|
The Blob is a 1988 American science-fiction horror film written and directed by Chuck Russell, co-written with Frank Darabont, and starring Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark, and Joe Seneca. The film's title depicts an amorphous acidic amoeba-like organism that eats and dissolves anything in its path as it grows, where it begins to feed on the residents of the fictional town of Arborville, California.
A remake of the 1958 horror film of the same name, the film was theatrically released in 1988, and was a box office disappointment, earning $8.2 million. It received mixed reviews but was praised for its special effects. Much like the original film, the remake has since gained a cult following.
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A meteorite crashes near Arborville, California. An elderly transient discovers, within the sphere, a giant amoeba-like organism (the Blob) that attaches itself to his hand. Three high school students, Brian, Meg and Paul, take him to a hospital. After Brian leaves, Paul witnesses the lower half of the transient melting from exposure to the Blob. As he calls for help, the Blob drops on top of him and begins to devour him. While Meg tries to free him, his arm dissolves off, Meg is thrown against a wall and knocked unconscious, and the Blob oozes out of the hospital.
After Brian and Meg have unsatisfactory encounters with the police, they meet at a diner where Meg tells Brian about the Blob. Brian is initially skeptical of Meg's story, but is convinced otherwise when the diner's handyman, George, is pulled head first through the sink drain by the Blob. It pursues them to the diner's walk-in freezer, but the Blob suddenly retreats after entering the freezer. After consuming the diner's owner, Fran Hewitt, the Blob reenters the sewers. Reverend Jacob Meeker, after witnessing the Blob disappearing and investigating the dark and abandoned diner, discovers and collects frozen fragments of the Blob near the open freezer door. Meg and Brian return to the police station, where the dispatcher tells them Deputy Briggs is near the meteor-landing site. They discover a military operation led by a scientist, Dr. Meddows, who orders the town quarantined. Brian escapes a military van and collects his motorbike.
Meg is taken to town where she learns her younger brother, Kevin, and his friend, Eddie, have sneaked into the local movie theater. The Blob enters the theater and attacks the staff and then the audience. Meg arrives as the audience is fleeing the theater, rescuing Eddie and Kevin. Brian eavesdrops on Meddows and learns that the Blob is a biological warfare experiment created during the Cold War that was launched into space because it was so dangerous. Learning that the Blob has entered the sewers, Meddows decides to trap it there, even if that means allowing Meg, Kevin, and Eddie to die. Brian is discovered listening in and evades military personnel by driving his motorcycle into the sewers.
In the sewers, Meg and Kevin flee from the Blob when it emerges and devours Eddie. Kevin escapes to the surface by scaling a pipe and squeezing through a grate. A three-man team of soldiers find Meg with the Blob and unsuccessfully attempt to kill it. Meg is saved by Brian, and they ride away on his motorcycle through a tunnel until they crash. They run into the only surviving soldier of the three-man team, and they escape the sewer after Meddows unsuccessfully attempts to trap them with the Blob. Brian confronts Meddows in front of the townsfolk and Deputy Briggs. After failing to convince everyone Brian is contaminated and must die, Meddows attempts to shoot Brian, but is killed by the Blob as it oozes into his chemical suit and drags him into the sewer. Col. Hargis, second in command after Meddows, attempts to destroy the Blob by shooting it to death and blowing it up with a bomb, but this only succeeds in angering it. The enraged creature bursts out of the ground and kills Hargis before it feasts upon the population and soldiers, impervious to the military's attempts to stop it. The town's Reverend Meeker proclaims the scene to be the prophesied end of the world, after which a failed flamethrower attack on the Blob sets him ablaze. Meg saves him with a fire extinguisher, and in the process blasts the Blob with it. As the monster recoils from the spray, Meg realizes that it cannot tolerate cold.
The survivors retreat to the town hall and hold the Blob off with furniture-barricades and fire extinguishers, but the Blob engulfs half the building and devours Deputy Briggs. Brian goes to the town's garage and gets a snow maker truck that has canisters of liquid nitrogen attached. As the Blob is about to consume Meg and her family, Brian shoots snow at the creature, which is angered and knocks the truck over. As the Blob surges toward Brian, Meg lures it away from him toward the canisters, which she has rigged with an explosive charge. She tries to get clear, but snags her foot between two pieces of metal, leaving her trapped. Brian regains consciousness and runs over to free her. The Blob is about to overrun them when the charge goes off, blowing up the canisters and covering the Blob with liquid nitrogen. The creature is flash-frozen, shattering into a mass of crystallized pieces. Moss Woodley has its remains stored in the town ice house.
Months later, at a tent-meeting church service, Meeker, disfigured by his burn injuries and secretly driven mad by his experiences, preaches a doomsday sermon resembling the Blob's attack. He is then shown to have a still-living piece of the Blob, trapped inside of a glass jar, awaiting the day when the "Lord sends him a sign" to unleash it upon the world.
- Kevin Dillon as Brian Flagg
- Shawnee Smith as Meg Penny
- Donovan Leitch as Paul Taylor
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Sheriff Herb Geller
- Candy Clark as Fran Hewitt
- Joe Seneca as Dr. Christopher Meddows
- Del Close as Reverend Jacob Meeker
- Paul McCrane as Deputy Bill Briggs
- Robert Axelrod as Jennings
- Beau Billingslea as Moss Woodley
- Michael Kenworthy as Kevin Penny
- Douglas Emerson as Eddie Beckner
- Jamison Newlander as Anthony Beckner
- Judith Flanagan as Eddie's Mother
- Art LaFleur as Pharmacist/Tom Penny
- Sharon Spelman as Debra Penny
- Billy Beck as Can Man
- Bill Moseley as The Injured Soldier in the Sewer
- Erika Eleniak as Vicki De Soto
- Ricky Paull Goldin as Scott Jeske
- Frank Collison as Hobbs
- Jack Rader as Col. Hargis
- Clayton Landey as George Ruit
- Noble Craig as Puddle Soldier
- Julie McCullough as Susie
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 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 their 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 is a microbial colony which not only enlarges itself, but also splits into multiple parts, allowing for simultaneous attacks in multiple locations. Indeed, the largest part of the creature 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.
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The Blob received mixed to positive reviews during the time of its release. The film holds an approval rating of 61% on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.8/10. Author and film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film two out of a possible four stars, calling it a "Needless, if undeniably gooey, remake". Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that the film "is more violent than the original, more spectacular, more cynical, more patently commercial and more attentive to detail", but noted that "for reasons having nothing to do with merit, the 1958 film earned a place in history. The remake, enterprising as it is, won't do the same".
Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine wrote that the film "improves on the original cult classic with inventive, gracefully repulsive special effects and an agreeable post-Watergate anti-authoritarian message". HorrorNews.net gave the film a score of "4 1/2 out of 5", writing that "the twists that this film takes that differ from the original make it all the more terrifying and oddly enough... plausible".
The film was released on DVD in the United States by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in September 2001. Sony again released The Blob in September 2013 as part of its "The 4-Movie Horror Unleashed Collection", along with Fright Night, Christine, and The Seventh Sign. The film was released on Blu-ray in the U.S. by Twilight Time on October 14, 2014.
- Gregory Watson. "The Blob: A Great Horror Remake 25 Years Later". Ravenous Monster. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- 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.
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- Maltin, Leonard; Carson, Darwyn; Sader, Luke. Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-451-41810-4.
- Janet Maslin (August 5, 1988). "Review/Film; 'The Blob,' Modernized". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
- Chuck Bowen (October 20, 2014). "The Blob (1988) Blu-ray Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
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- Donovan, Barna William (2011), "Aliens, Rugged Individualists, and Incompetent Conspirators: Conspiracy 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