The Blob (1988 film)
|Directed by||Chuck Russell|
|Story by||Irving H. Millgate|
|Based on||The Blob|
by Theodore Simonson
|Music by||Michael Hoenig|
Palisades California, Inc.
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Budget||$10 million[nb 1]|
|Box office||$8.2 million|
The Blob is a 1988 American science fiction horror film co-written and directed by Chuck Russell. A remake of the 1958 film of the same name, it stars Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Paul McCrane, Art LaFleur, Robert Axelrod, Joe Seneca, Del Close and Candy Clark. The plot follows an acidic, amoeba-like organism that crashes down to Earth in a military satellite, which devours and dissolves anything in its path as it grows.
Filmed in Abbeville, Louisiana, The Blob was theatrically released in August 1988 by Tri-Star Pictures and was a box office bomb, grossing $8.2 million against its budget of approximately $10 million. Though it received a mixed response from critics, the film has accrued a cult following in the years since its release.
A meteorite crashes near Arborville, California. An elderly transient discovers, within the sphere, a massive slime mold-like substance that adheres 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. Meg arrives to see Paul being devoured by the growing Blob. While she tries freeing him, his arm dissolves off, Meg is thrown against a wall and knocked unconscious, the Blob fully dissolves Paul and it oozes out of the hospital and into the surrounding woods. As the Blob moves through the woods, it encounters Scott and Vicki making out in Scott's car, and consumes both of them.
After Brian and Meg have unsatisfactory encounters with the police, they meet at a diner where Meg tells Brian about the Blob. Brian's disbelief is shattered when the diner's handyman is pulled through a sink drain by the Blob. It pursues them to the diner's walk-in freezer, but the Blob retreats after feeling the extreme cold of the freezer. After consuming the diner's owner Fran Hewitt, and Sheriff Geller, the Blob reenters the sewers, seen by an intoxicated Reverend Meeker. The Reverend goes into the now abandoned diner and finds a few small crystalized shards of the Blob that were left behind when it tried to enter the freezer, and he places them in a sealable glass jar.
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 and the two teens quarantined. While Brian escapes, Meg is taken to town where she learns her younger brother, Kevin, is missing. Meg learns he and his friend, Eddie, sneaked into the movie theater. The Blob enters the theater, attacking the staff and audience. Meg arrives as the audience flees the theater, rescuing Eddie and Kevin.
Brian eavesdrops on Meddows and Jennings talking and learns that the Blob is a biological warfare experiment created during the Cold War, 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 consumes Eddie. Kevin escapes by scaling a pipe to the surface, and Meg is saved by Brian, who 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 him, but is killed by the Blob as it oozes into his chemical suit and drags him into the sewer. The Blob breaches the sewers to the surface and begins feasting upon the population. It proves impervious to the military's attempts to stop it, killing Colonel Hargis and multiple others. 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. When the monster backs off, she realizes that the Blob cannot tolerate cold.
The survivors retreat to the town hall and hold the Blob off with furniture-barricades and fire extinguishers, but it is a losing battle; the Blob engulfs half the building and devours 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 and toward the canisters, which she has rigged with an explosive charge taken from a dying soldier. She tries getting clear, but snags her foot between two pieces of metal, trapping her. 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 in liquid nitrogen. The creature is flash-frozen into a mass of crystallized pieces. Moss Woodley has its remains stored in the town ice house until the military can arrive with proper equipment and take it away.
A few years later, at a tent-meeting church service in a field, Reverend Meeker, disfigured by his burns and secretly driven insane, preaches a doomsday sermon resembling the Blob's attack. A parishioner enters his private area and asks him when the end will come, and he says "Soon Madame. Soon. The Lord will send me a sign." It is then revealed that he has kept the piece of the Blob still trapped inside the glass jar, and it has thawed out.
- 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. Meddows
- Del Close as Reverend Meeker
- Sharon Spelman as Mrs. Penny
- Beau Billingslea as Moss Woolsey
- Art LaFleur as Pharmacist/Tom Penny
- Ricky Paull Goldin as Scott Jeskey
- Paul McCrane as Deputy Bill Briggs
- Michael Kenworthy as Kevin Penny
- Douglas Emerson as Eddie Beckner
- Robert Axelrod as Jennings
- Bill Moseley as The Soldier in the Sewer
- Erika Eleniak as Vicki De Soto
- Jack Rader as Col. Hargis
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, riding a motorcycle, and distrusting authority figures. Del Close, who portrays Reverend Meeker, played an eyepatch wearing hobo in the 1972 movie Beware! The Blob, which was a campy sequel to the original 1958 film.
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; however, the production was cancelled and he was unexpectedly available to audition for The Blob.
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, with special effects artist Lyle Conway originally being in charge of the effects. However, after personnel changes he ended up running a crew of 33, including artist Chet Zar and mechanical effects designer Bill Sturgeon. In creating the titular Blob creature, the special effects team used silk bags filled with Methyl cellulose (Fangoria reported Methacil), a thickening agent for food, creating what the team described as a "Blob Quilt". For the few minutes of screen time, near the end of the film, where Reverend Meeker has a scene with fresh burns and another with healed burns, actor Del Close required five-and-a-half hours of makeup preparation for fresh burns, and seven-and-a-half hours for healed burns.
The Blob opened in New York and Los Angeles, California on August 5, 1988. It grossed $8,247,943 at the box office. An article in the 27 May 1989 Screen International reported that the film’s domestic box-office gross was “disastrous.”
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, The Blob holds a 63% approval rating based on 27 critic reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The consensus reads: "The Blob can't replicate the B-movie charms of the original, though its fast pace and gory thrills pack enough of a punch to make it a worthwhile update."
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".
Retrospective reviews have typically been more favorable. 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". TV Guide gave the film 3/5 stars, calling it "a fine, multilayered effort from a director who understands the genre and appreciates its traditions".
Discussing the poor critical and commercial performance of the film in an interview with Starlog, director Chuck Russell stated, "Maybe it was a mistake to do a remake of The Blob with a sense of humor. I thought that would be an entertaining interpretation. … Unfortunately, it was released late in a very hectic summer filled with big films and it didn't have a particularly good ad campaign."
The film was released on DVD in the United States by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on September 11, 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 first released on Blu-ray in the United States by Twilight Time on October 14, 2014. On October 29, 2019, Shout! Factory's "Scream Factory" imprint issued a "Collector's Edition" of the film on Blu-ray, with a multitude of new bonus features.
- Director Chuck Russell stated in a commentary that the budget of the movie was $10 million or less.
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- 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
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