Skip

More than 50 years of the big red blobby thing
November 3, 2009 9:46 AM   Subscribe

What's 51 years old and made of silicone with red food dye? The Blob, best known for it's work in The Blob, an independent film released in 1958, with Steve McQueen's second movie role (following Never Love a Stranger, which was released earlier that same year). The movie has been considered the definitive '50s film about a town that won't listen to the kids until it's too late (as noted in a review for the Criterion laserdisc release), with a super-catchy theme song (extended single version and b-side Saturday Night in Tiajuana) that was Burt Bacharach's third US hit song. (See more: theatrical trailer, full film on Veoh, full film as YouTube playlist) Times change, and so do monsters, and things got a bit wacky in the 1970s, with Beware! The Blob (aka Son of Blob; wiki, trailer, full film). The sequel played more to the slapstick comedy than the sci-fi/horror spectrum of things. Thirty years after the original, The Blob was remade in 1988 (wiki, trailer, full film), and is supposedly being re-created by Rob Zombie, though his statement about reviving The Blob without "the big red blobby thing" has people asking, then why remake The Blob? (previous blobby goodness)

The Blob was not intended to be about Communism, according to the film's producer, Jack Harris, when he was interviewed at BlobFest VIII in 2007. BlobFest started as a fundraiser in 1999 to restore The Colonial Theater, a prominent feature of the original film. Since the first fundraiser, the event has become an annual celebration of All Things The Blob, including a scream competition, run-out re-enactment, Shorty Film Contest, and more. For gobs more on (classic version of) The Blob, see TheBlobSite.
posted by filthy light thief (53 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
The blob, like the pod people, are great monsters cause they could be *anything*. Commies! Madison Avenue! Anything!
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 AM on November 3, 2009


This movie really scared me when I was very young. This movie and black holes.
posted by fuq at 9:55 AM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wasn't able to find out for sure, but there are vague connections between the premise of The Blob and a police report from 1950 of what some call "star jelly."

The blob, like the pod people, are great monsters cause they could be *anything*. Commies! Madison Avenue! Anything!

True, but the blob was an ever-growing red mass, consuming people whole, much like a cartooned version of the western view communism and Soviet Russia.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:56 AM on November 3, 2009


Ah shit, gotta get some work done. Great post.
posted by marxchivist at 9:57 AM on November 3, 2009


CO2!
posted by tommasz at 9:57 AM on November 3, 2009


The Blob, best known for it's work in The Blob

Description of the Year Award.
posted by GuyZero at 10:08 AM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sweet post.
posted by dortmunder at 10:14 AM on November 3, 2009


Aren't Rob Zombie remakes supposed to be horrible? What is he, the Roger Corman of Roger Corman-esque remakes?
posted by blucevalo at 10:17 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Goddammit, Rob Zombie, stick to making your own terrible movies.

(Actually The Devil's Rejects was pretty good, if exhausting.)
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:22 AM on November 3, 2009


This movie really scared me when I was very young. This movie and black holes.

fuq, we're the same person. Did you hide in the bathroom when you read about Comet Kahoutek destroying the Earth too?

I was inconsolable about The Blob (actually it was Beware of the Blob). Nobody could convince me that it couldn't really happen. I was like that as a kid.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:25 AM on November 3, 2009


Aren't Rob Zombie remakes supposed to be horrible? What is he, the Roger Corman of Roger Corman-esque remakes?

Ooh, that's tough. Roger Corman was a hack, but the sort of hack you can respect for his efforts. Rob Zombie is a hack who is well funded and coasts on name recognition alone (his tomato-meter is skewed by the times he has appeared as himself), whereas Roger Corman is doing fairly well for a b-movie producer of a most prolific sort.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:28 AM on November 3, 2009


a super-catchy theme song

I curse you with splotches and blotches. I had just gotten this out of my head from the last time I saw The Blob several months ago.

Roger Corman was a hack, but the sort of hack you can respect for his efforts.

And his studio was a sort of learning-by-doing camp for getting movies done on time and on budget (even if Cameron later forgot), and he looked for and embraced talented people and let them do their thing (so long as they did their thing on time and on budget).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:35 AM on November 3, 2009


The Blob was the first move I saw alone in a movie theater.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:37 AM on November 3, 2009


Is this the wrong thread to mention A Boy and His? Because I'm going to anyway. That dedicated 'hug' button is pretty great.
posted by explosion at 10:44 AM on November 3, 2009


The astro physicist Neil deGrasse, when asked what the most accurate movie image of what an alien might look like, suggested the blob.
posted by xjudson at 10:49 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great post. I put that super-catchy theme song on my Halloween mix this year.
posted by Sailormom at 10:50 AM on November 3, 2009


Related to the Blob family tree, The Stuff is something like the Blob's distant cousin. Usually not as independently mobile, but it's more delicious than ice cream. Tonight, America is in grave danger.
posted by Drastic at 10:52 AM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I preferred the remake, as much as I hate to say it. The original can be enjoyed as camp, but offers very few scares. Th blon in the remake, in the meanwhile, is essentially a gelatin stomach with enormous strength, and so will suck people through tiny spaces, and you can see as they dissolve within it. Relaly creepy. Oh, and something scares me about Kevin Dillon as well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:54 AM on November 3, 2009


Love the first movie to death.

One of my favorite things is using Steve McQueen as the teenager. I guess he's no older than many actors playing teenagers in movies, but McQueen's rugged face makes him look older than half the actors playing the adults in the movie. The scenes between him and the local cop are very entertaining that way. It doesn't help that the directors idea of how to make him look like a teenager are to put him in a pink golf sweater. Huh?

I actually kind of liked the 80's remake when it came out, but I haven't watched it since then, so who knows.

Great post.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:56 AM on November 3, 2009


Go to 1:30:00 on the remake for an example of what I'm talking about. YIKES.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:07 AM on November 3, 2009


Oh, wait. 26:00. That's where Donovan's son gets it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:08 AM on November 3, 2009


I lost my virginity to The Blob.

Wait, that didn't sound right. It was...the mid-80s. My parents were out of town for the weekend and I invited a girl I'd previously sort of dated over to watch movies (obviously I didn't have much of a strategy or I'd have rented 9 1/2 Weeks or something). Whether it was a long-simmering fear of extraterrestrial goop or the sublimated desire for a strapping young Steve McQueen that drove her into my arms, I'll never know. Nor do I care.

Subsequent girlfriends, however, would be confused at my inclusion of a novelty Burt Bacharach theme song on their mixtapes.
posted by total warfare frown at 11:29 AM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hmm.

Jeff Sharlet
, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, makes a rather compelling point in that book in favor of the anti-Communist origins of The Blob. At the very least, it looks like the film's production stemmed from a fortuitous meeting at a National Prayer Breakfast. Here's Sharlet's take excerpted from an Alternet interview in June 2008:

The best illustration of the Family's involvement in the Cold War was something that I stumbled on by accident: The 1958 film "The Blob." It began at the 1957 National Prayer Breakfast. "The Blob" was a famous horror movie that was a metaphor for Communism. This is their imagination of how Communism spread. At the time, the American imagination couldn't grasp ideology, so it had to be an actual goo that globs more and more people and grows and becomes expansive. As I recall, they have to blow up the town at the end. The logic of "The Blob" is that we must destroy the village in order to save it. That's the logic of Vietnam.

The project actually began at the National Prayer Breakfast. This filmmaker who had been making fundamentalist films, Irvin "Shorty" Yeaworth, was on the lookout for someone to make this film. (The writer) Kate Phillips was a B-movie sci-fi actress. Not a Christian Right person; (she was) there as a guest of a friend of hers. She's there at the breakfast and they become friends. They end up making this movie.


Of course, he could just have his facts completely wrong. Retired Hollywood screenwriter Rudy Nelson surely believes so.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:34 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine dressed up as Big Bird this year for Halloween. Not regular Big Bird, of course. She dressed up as slutty Big Bird.

"Slutty Big Bird?" I asked. "Was slutty Jabba the Hutt taken? What will it be next year -- slutty The Blob?"
posted by flarbuse at 11:39 AM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


but, but .... There's no S in Burt Bacharach!
posted by mannequito at 12:27 PM on November 3, 2009


Rob Zombie is doing for classic horror movies what Uwe Boll did for video games.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:33 PM on November 3, 2009


> "The Blob" was a famous horror movie that was a metaphor for Communism. This is their
> imagination of how Communism spread

Alternet's anti-anticommie paranoia doesn't go deep enough if they haven't noticed Crest cinnamon Close-Up™ toothpaste, aka the-Blob-in-a-tube. Talk about subverting from inside.
posted by jfuller at 12:52 PM on November 3, 2009


You know, sometimes a big red glob of silicone is just a big red glob of silicone.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:00 PM on November 3, 2009


I wonder if anyone has written a hypothetical exo-biolology of the Blob.

Is it like, one big cell? A multi-celluar critter like a slime mold? How does it locomote? How does it track its prey. Can it smell?

(the blob gives me the willies the same way stepping on a slug with bare feet)
posted by device55 at 1:06 PM on November 3, 2009


I have a very slim memory from childhood of a blob-like creature eating astronauts in a B-movie involving a classic 50s spaceship. Does anyone know what this might be?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:17 PM on November 3, 2009


If the Blob summarizes the fears of a generation by giving us a movie where the monster is a metaphor for Communism (much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers), what does a decade of horror movies focused on surveillance, imprisonment and torture say about the Patriot Act?
posted by Shepherd at 1:24 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course, people associated with making Invasion of the Body Snatchers have also throughly denied that it was intended to be anything more than a thriller.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:28 PM on November 3, 2009


The 80's remake was filmed in my hometown, Abbeville, LA. The movie theater in the town square, Frank's Theater, had been closed for about 6 years when it was filmed. (It's currently being restored.) When I first saw the remake, I got a tremendous episode of deja vu during the scene (at 1:15:25; YouTube won't let me link to that point in the timeline) when the kids were trapped in the sewer by a truck parked on the manhole cover... One movie I saw as a kid in that same theater where they filmed the remake that really stuck with me was Alligator starring Robert Forester (available for your viewing pleasure here), which also featured a scene featuring the hero, pursued by the monster, stuck in a sewer by a vehicle parked over the manhole cover. It's nice when memories get recreated onscreen on location, no matter how freaky the memories are.

Also, exactly 39 years ago today, I was almost born in that very theater. My mom had been in labor for over 20 hours with my older brother, so she didn't panic when labor started with me. In fact, she went to the movies to see Dr. Zhivago, all three-plus hours of it. I was born less than an hour after she got to the hospital when the movie ended.
posted by shecky57 at 1:31 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it only fair that some really awful person now achieve mainstream success covering White Zombie songs in some horrible OTT fashion.

And yes, the 80s remake is the rare beast that outdoes its predecessor.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:27 PM on November 3, 2009


The original can be enjoyed as camp, but offers very few scares.

You know, I let it slide the last time you dismissed the O.G. Blob, Astro Zombie, but I can't do it twice. The Blob really *is* the quintessential "teens warn town" movie, features one of the absolute creepiest of the monsters of the 1950s, is quick and sharp and never drags and absolutely offers suspense in large supply to those who can let go temporarily of what they already know about the plot.

"Very few scares"? Maybe. But suspense and a tight, quick plot it definitely has, and faulting it for "camp" while praising the hell out of other similar B-flicks is completely hypocritical. It's just weird that every time it comes up here, Astro Zombie of all people insists on diminishing its stature, and can only suggest he was having a bad day the last time he saw it. The Blob remains one of the best of the 50s monster movies - right up at the top, a notch or two below Them - and anyone who can't see that is...well, they're just wrong.

*sprays fire extinguisher at Astro Zombie*
posted by mediareport at 2:44 PM on November 3, 2009


Don't even get me started on the meta-thrill of a climactic scene of the monster trapping the audience in a movie theater - PURE FUCKING B-MOVIE GENIUS.

Oh, and, uh, thanks for this very cool post.
posted by mediareport at 2:45 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love the original Blob, the 80s remake and the one in between. I love all the Blobs that have yet to be made*, those that will never be made; but most of all I love the Blob that only exists in my own memory, distorted and warped by the passage of too many years. That one scared the ever-loving crap out of me as a kid.

*The one by John Carpenter, especially (we know you can do it!)

Blobs are cool. More Blobs please.
posted by metagnathous at 2:58 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the Variety link:

"My intention is not to have a big red blobby thing -- that's the first thing I want to change," Zombie said. "That gigantic Jello-looking thing might have been scary to audiences in the 1950s, but people would laugh now."

Hmmmm.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:07 PM on November 3, 2009


Threads like this make me wanna go buy a camera and make a real, honest to gods 50s-style horror film. Totally straight. No camp. Udate a few plotlines or such but keep the visual style, the narrative style, the amount of cuts, the type, the framing, make it look and feel and sound exactly like a lost universal classic. Winks at a complete minimum.
posted by The Whelk at 3:13 PM on November 3, 2009


Heh, for a split second, I saw "... Zombie said." and thought "Crap! A talking zombie!" and then I realized that Rob is still very much alive.

Threads like this make me wanna go buy a camera and make a real, honest to gods 50s-style horror film. Totally straight. No camp.

I think it might just look like a standard indie film. For me, 1950s horror flicks are defined by the visual setting (clothing, cars, architecture), social attitudes and colloquial terms (the bad-ass is always a bad-ass, but how he acts and what he says shifts with the period), and level of special effects technology. But this could be a fun elective course (or long weekend of movie critiquing) to see if any of my assumptions are true.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:17 PM on November 3, 2009


As a small child I was in the back seat of my parents' car when this movie trailer came on-it literally traumatized me. To this day I remembered the image of that red goo oozing out of those openings at the movie theater...so watching that trailer was an odd if cathartic experience.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:27 PM on November 3, 2009


I really want the teabaggers to start making horror films. Not because I expect them to be good, but because as a liberal, I know their paranoia is over things that pretty much amount to nothing, so their horror films would become funny almost instantly, rather than needing to wait 20-50 years like a typical B-movie.

If they need to copy The Blob (an understandable choice), just have the Blob symbolize the stimulus package. My idea: It eats hard working taxpayers and their small businesses and builds a nest inside corporate skyscrapers. If they really want to play up the "BIG GOVERNMENT BAD!" card, have FEMA and the EPA design it as a population control vector that gets out of hand.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:55 PM on November 3, 2009


My favorite attribute of the 1950's blob was how it "rears up" on it's hind pseudopodia before devouring a victim.
posted by benzenedream at 5:49 PM on November 3, 2009


This movie really scared me when I was very young. This movie and black holes.

fuq, we're the same person.


That makes three of us then, because the Blob, field trips to the La Brea Tar Pits, and Dr. Suess' Bartholomew and the Oobleck fused together to give me many a recurring childhood nightmare about voracious amorphous beasties.
posted by KatlaDragon at 8:03 PM on November 3, 2009


For me, 1950s horror flicks are defined by the visual setting (clothing, cars, architecture), social attitudes and colloquial terms (the bad-ass is always a bad-ass, but how he acts and what he says shifts with the period), and level of special effects technology. But this could be a fun elective course (or long weekend of movie critiquing) to see if any of my assumptions are true.

The visual link is a big (somewould say huge) part of it, but I'm more interested in the narrative language part. Like, you wouldn't shoot an action scene in 1956 like you would in 2006. The whole grammar is different. You wouldn't have a DRAMATIC REVEAL in 2009 like you would in 1859. I'd like to to copy the cuts, the types of compositions, the pacing and structure that makes THOSE movies feel like THOSE movies, and not modern movie dressed up in costumes and props. I'd want to do something in that language.
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 PM on November 3, 2009


1959, in 1859 you would've had to use a steam-powered stereoscopic flip book.
posted by The Whelk at 9:05 PM on November 3, 2009


Here's a review from The Criterion Contraption that includes a look at how the special effects guys made the blob move plus other cool tidbits.
posted by CCBC at 10:18 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Threads like this make me wanna go buy a camera and make a real, honest to gods 50s-style horror film.

For years I've wanted someone to re-make "Who Goes there?" (aka The Thing) as a 1950s-style horror film in period style, preserving the original ending. I suppose this will never happen, but I'd beat down doors to see such a movie if it did.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:04 AM on November 4, 2009


Good news, octobersurprise!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:03 AM on November 4, 2009


Eh. I said "re-make." I've seen the attack of the giant carrot. James Arness was a very good carrot in that movie, but it wasn't the Who Goes There? I want to see.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:30 AM on November 4, 2009


James Arness was a very good carrot in that movie

You mean that in the "It's a Good Life" sense, don't you?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:41 AM on November 4, 2009


I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot.
posted by The Whelk at 11:43 AM on November 4, 2009


I have a very slim memory from childhood of a blob-like creature eating astronauts in a B-movie involving a classic 50s spaceship. Does anyone know what this might be?

The Green Slime ?
posted by banshee at 2:59 PM on November 4, 2009


« Older What is “Try Not to Breathe” about?   |   We can remember it for you wholesale! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post