Friday, November 5, 2021

Movie Review: THE BLOB (1988)

Once upon a time in elementary school, I was a regular reader of the Crestwood Monsters series, a series of children's books in which the tales of the classical movie monsters (Dracula, the Wolfman, etc.) were retold using black-and-white film stills as illustrations. One such book was centered around the 1950s horror film The Blob. I was aware there was a remake in the 1980s, but never got around to seeing it until Myopia Movies did an episode on it. I wasn't able to participate, but I saw it later when the episode came out.

The Plot

In a ski town in what's probably Colorado, a meteor lands, bringing with it a very hungry life-form that gets bigger the more it eats. A bunch of small-town types like earnest high school football player Paul (Donovan Leitch), cheerleader Meg (Shawnee Smith, who later went on to play Amanda in the Saw films), and biker delinquent Brian (Kevin Dillon) now have much bigger problems than who's going out with whom and who needs tools to work on their motorcycle.

The Good

*In a lot of horror movies, the characters make bad decisions in order to move the plot along. In this film, most of the characters make good decisions and the bad decisions make sense in context (i.e. Brian storms off because he has a big chip on his shoulder and feels disrespected). This makes the titular Blob especially dangerous--in order to deal with people who are mostly not complete fools, it has to be pretty cunning itself.

*Some characters who could be clich├ęs have surprising depths and twists.

*The movie seriously goes for Anyone Can Die. Not going to go into detail for reasons of spoilers, but they definitely avoid the horror-movie problem of the audience pretty much knowing who's going to die from early in the film.

*They use late 1980s practical effects and minimal if any CGI. It looks good. And definitely gross--they were going for ghastly here and it works.

*There are some laugh-out-loud moments, such as one of the football players figuring out who his date's father is.

The Bad

*There's a prolonged opening featuring shots of the town and then we cut to the high-school football game. There are two actual meet-cutes. There's no hint we're dealing with a threat from beyond until at least fifteen minutes in. Some of the stuff is necessary because it introduces the characters but it could stand to be tightened up, like the shots of the empty streets. If that was intended as some kind of fake-out to make the audience think the Blob had already eaten the town, it didn't work.

*There's a subplot involving the town's Catholic priest (at least I think he's supposed to be Catholic based on how he's dressed) that doesn't make a lot of sense and eats up too much screen time. Not going to go into detail for possible spoiler reasons, but his Biblical interpretations and later actions sound more like an End Times enthusiast Protestant, not a Catholic.

The Verdict

Well-made and definitely worth a watch. 8.5 out of 10.

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