When I was a young little nipper, I first saw The Blob on late night television. I sought out each and every monster and science fiction movie I had ever read about. Unfortunately, this was before the VHS and then DVD boom. Finding movies to watch consisted of me combing through late night television schedules and crossing my fingers.
Along comes The Blob. I had read its description in my geek literature (mainly Famous Monsters of Filmland) but hadn’t seen it. So I spot it being played on a late, late movie and girded my loins to stay up late enough to watch it.
Watching this movie as an adult and it’s pretty cheesy. As a kid, it kinda scared me. I didn’t see the bad acting, dubious cinematography or corny dialogue. I just saw a blob monster that dissolved you like acid. Which, if you think about it, is pretty horrible. This movie didn’t go into graphic detail like the 1988 Blob remake (which I also enjoy,) but it suggested enough for my youthful, warped mind.
Basic plot is simple enough. Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and his girlfriend Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) spot a meteor crash to earth. Our plucky protagonists drive off to find the meteor. Unfortunately an old man hobo-type has discovered it already and the
Blob inside it has attached to his arm.
What follows is a classic “nobody believes us” story where the teenage protagonists try to convince the authorities that there’s something wrong. The authorities, naturally, thing they’re just a bunch of punk kids causing trouble. It ties into a lot of the teen rebellion style movies coming out in the fifties and sixties. There’s a lot of ‘hip’ forgettable dialogue and marginal acting, but I don’t go into a movie like this expecting Ben Hur.
A note about Steve McQueen. This was Steve’s first starring role, so I can forgive the miscast. Sure, I like Steve, but he’s supposed to be a teenager in this movie when he was
in his late twenties. He doesn’t look much like a teenager. Still, I forgive a lot and hey, it’s friggin’ Steve McQueen!
People also might recognize Aneta Corsaut from her later role as Helen Crump from The Andy Griffith Show. I believe only Steve and her ever had any roles of prominence after this film.
The special effects in the movie are decent. They’re nothing Oscar-caliber, but they do the job well enough on their meager budget. They mostly consist of matte shots and miniature sets involving a blob of silicone colored with red dye. A few brief bits of animation and set paintings and the occasional forced perspective.
The Blob’s weakness (and there always is one) is cold and it’s defeated by the use of CO2 fire extinguishers that freeze it solid. The final shot is the creature being dropped in the Arctic.
Anyway, this film is far from perfect. Often scenes appear to be lit using a penlight. There are long, dragging bits of “cool teen” dialogue that do little to move the plot forward. Everyone except Steve and Aneta apparently read about acting in a book once. No, it has warts.
Still, the concept is creepy enough and the setting is campy enough that it’s hard to hate this movie. The goofy title song Beware of the Blob (composed by Burt Bacharach and Mack David) became a top forty hit in 1958. For your listening pleasure:
There was a sequel to The Blob called Son of the Blob or Beware! the Blob which I haven’t seen. Larry Hagman directed it. The tagline was “The Film J.R. Shot!”