Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Blob (1958)

Watch out! Watch out! Here comes THE BLOB! With its own jolly little theme tune as it slurps its way across the screen, various tiny sets, and at least one photograph of a building its supposed to be consuming. THE BLOB is a seminal science fiction film, oft-quoted and imitated. As to whether it’s actually any good or not

One day I hope to work with the director of SUMMER HOLIDAY

Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsault play forty year-old teenagers (Blu-ray can be rather unkind in some respects). One night they drive up to Lover’s Leap or some other traditionally-named meeting point for American teenagers. (We never had that sort of thing in the UK - romantic liaisons tended to take place in locations with names like Garrotting Lane or Lover’s Death Plunge). While there they see a meteorite fall to earth. An old man beats them to the spot, where something the size and shape of a large golf ball with a gooey centre has made a small crater. Like anyone encountering something of extra-terrestrial origin in these films, the old man pokes at it with a stick and soon the clear jelly stuff is on his hand and turning red. 


Steve and Aneta take him to the local doctor who decides he needs to amputate. He calls in his nurse who specialises in falling over and being eaten by the blob. Sure enough, by the time she arrives the old man is gone and something resembling thick strawberry jam is slurping its way around the surgery. The nurse does her thing and is absorbed and pretty soon the doctor is gone, too. In search of more God-fearing free Americans, the red menace blobs its way towards the town. Will the teenagers be able to convince the police of the peril in their midst? And how do you stop the seemingly unstoppable?

Every home should have one

The best thing about THE BLOB is undoubtedly its monster - a relentless insatiable alien that just wants to eat and eat and eat. Bullets can’t stop it (and neither can acid) and I don’t doubt it’s a major (and possibly the only) part of the film’s appeal. Otherwise THE BLOB really is a rather pedestrian effort. Despite the colour photography (which looks great on Blu-ray) there’s a bit of an Ed Wood feel to some of the film-making. Dialogue shots are often filmed against black backdrops, and there is at least one scene where all the acting is from the waist down. The dialogue itself is pretty hokey (“You mean that thing's been hot-rodding its way through space?”) and when the monster’s not on screen one’s finger itches to press the fast forward button. 

About to do her thing

As I’ve said above, however, somehow THE BLOB ended up being way more than the sum of its parts. Watch a comedy sketch about 1950s SF movies and you can bet scenes that THE BLOB did first will be referenced. Movie after movie made in its wake did the same thing. THE BLOB may be clunky and stilted, but it still somehow captures a feeling for a certain kind of science fiction monster movie perfectly. 
        Fabulous Films’ Blu-ray uses the Criterion Collection’s transfer, which looks great. Extras are limited to a trailer and some galleries. 

Fabulous Films released THE BLOB on Region B Blu-ray and Region 2 DVD on 20th April 2015

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