The Blob (1988)

There are probably better things to be done on a Sunday during the early afternoon but today I’ve chosen to watch The Blob.  I can’t say whether I’ve actually seen the film before–in my youth–because I wasn’t old enough when the movie came out, and my mom was a stickler for age-appropriate film viewing.  Perhaps, though, I had seen a few scenes via re-run on television because there are parts that I seem to recall–perhaps, instead, I’m jacking into the collective subconscious.  Who knows.

I was entirely expecting to see a campy horror film in this 80s remake, and while there were perhaps moments of camp, overall the film did not displease in that over-campish sort of way. 

The blob itself was a sickening wretch of a life-form, devouring (or rather disintegrating) everyone in its path.  It was gross, bulbous, gelatinous, and cellulitic.  There were moments that were truly suspenseful, and down-right, moderately frightening.  I can see how, if I had seen parts of this film when I was much younger, I would have certain images imprinted on my brain.  For example, I’ve always wondered why I cringe and near-vomit at the sight of a clogged-up drain, and why you couldn’t pay me money to use my own hands to un-clog it…well, now I know!  Thank god for Drain-o!  In the film, they could’ve used some Blob-o.

Clearly this film had a purpose–fear of scientific progress for purposes of anti-peace.  It’s amazing how many films, even today (I’m thinking of I Am Legend at the moment–granted, that was based on a book from 1954) deal with our fears about the effects of science on humanity.  This is certainly relevant today with the rampant fear and uncertainty surrounding stem cell research and cloning; not to mention whatever other scientific things are out there that the General Public don’t know (or want to know) about.

But, in The Blob, those things came right into small town America and hit us where it would hurt the most: on proverbial Main Street.  What would you do if men in white suits came to your town to quarantine you?  Most people would believe the men-in-white.  But in this film, trusting the men in charge is a treacherous issue.  When out-of-control scientific experiements start affecting our sleepy little towns, who are we going to rely on to save us?  It’s not the men-in-white.  No, it’s two, regular high school students.  More than that, it’s two of the most venerated character-types we know:  The All-American girl and the Rebel (seemingly) without a cause.

What I really liked about the film was the way the characters were used–the persistent goody-two-shoes cheerleader with a nose for “what’s right” (Meg, played by Shawnee Smith), and the no-good bad boy with a harder-to-tease-out penchant for helping others (Brian, played by Kevin Dillon).  Both of them came together, despite their “class” and “cultural” differences, to save their town.  Both ultimately acted selflessly for the good of others.  And both prevailed in the end.  Well, at least they got really lucky.  Many times throughout the film, Brian would save Meg and then get in a jam and Meg would come and save Brian!  A perfect duo: fighting an out-of-control scientific experiment one heroic event after another.  So if Meg and Brian can prevail over the man-made Blob, what can the rest of us accomplish?

This was an enjoyable film. Not too scary, but suspenseful enough.  Not too campy, but with enough cheese-factor to make you want to watch it.  Not too out-of-this-world to not be relevant even today, twenty years later.

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