The Blob (1988)

One day you’re sitting in a tree smoking a cigarette, thinking about how you’re gonna jump the broken down old bridge at Elkin’s Grove.  The next day you’re fighting off some huge unrelenting pink pile of ooze that just spread into town.  “How did you get here” you might ask yourself.  If you’re Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon), you’d probably be asking yourself the exact same thing.  Life was so easy just being a juvenile delinquent.  Now you’re just trying to survive The Blob.

Brian’s tries to jump that broken down old bridge, but his bike putters out and he lays it down in the dirt. It was probably for the best though, he wasn’t keen on the audience of one when an old bum collecting cans gives him a round of applause for eating shit.  Brian gets back to town just in time to see his old buddy the Sheriff Geller (Walking Dead’s Jeffrey DeMunn), and to pick up some tools to fix his bike.  By the time he gets back to his bike it’s dark, and that old bum who gave him a hand earlier is now wishing he was able to clap his hands together again. See, this time he’s got some goop on the end of his hand, and he’s trying to chop it off with a hatchet.  He and Brian struggle, and the bum gets away and staggers into the road where he’s hit by Meg (Shawnee Smith) and Paul on their first date.  Paul does the right thing and gathers up the old man and Brian to take them to the local hospital to get this guy some medical attention.

At the hospital, the shit hits the fan.  The bum gets taken back into a exam room (where ironically, he waits), while Brian decides it’s time for him to take off.  After waiting for what seems like an eternity, Paul notices something funny going on back in the old bum’s room.  He goes back to investigate and with the doctor realizes this guy’s not gonna be collecting cans anytime soon, considering only the upper half of his torso remain and the rest has been eaten away.  Paul runs off to call 911 and that’s where things really start to get interesting.

Meg passes out in the ensuing insanity, and when she wakes up the entire police force (consisting of two cops) is on the scene.  She’s taken home by her parents and the cops have Brian in as a key suspect in all this nonsense.  No one will believe Meg that the ooze that was on that old hobo’s hand has spread and absorbed Paul.  She knows Brian didn’t do it, but her story is so absurd that there’s no way it can be true.  By the time the authorities do believe her, it’s too late as the blob starts to eat everyone and grow to enormous proportions.  Her only hope is that Brian believes her, and he soon will after seeing it with his own eyes.

Let me start by saying this: I haven’t seen the original 1956 Steve McQueen version of the blob, so I can’t say how closely this follows that film.  What I can say is that this 1988 film stands on it’s own.  This is probably one of the scarier mainstream horror films of the 80’s, and the Blob it’self is what makes it so terrifying.  Think about it, this is an enemy that you can not stop.  It grows and thrives on bodies of the living, and unlike a zombie outbreak it doesn’t ever stop – there’s no convenient way to kill it.  You can pump rounds and rounds into it, and drop napalm on it, but it won’t stop, it just keeps coming. It can slide underneath barricades, over walls, through cracks and once it gets big enough it can cover and collapse entire structures.

The Blob is also full of some of the coolest death scenes that I’ve seen in a while.  People get melted by it’s acid-like surface, they get swallowed up, it crawls up through pipes and pulls people through sink drains.  It’s just a mass of rolling death and it’s awesome.  Thankfully, the special effects are top notch on most of these scenes and that’s another thing that makes it so satisfying.  I’m praising the hell out of it here, but it’s not perfect.  We have the luxury of seeing constantly evolving special effects that just keep getting better and better, so it’s easy with perspective to see when something looks out of place.  That being said, there are a lot of shots where you can tell they were done with a blue screen, because the masking around the edges of characters looks out of place, or it was done with miniatures. Even with those few shots, it still stands up.  I dare anyone to take a look at the screenshots from this film and not be impressed.

The acting can come across a little ham fisted, but overall the cast does a good job.  There’s enough of a story built in the first 15 minutes so you know what everyone’s backstory is and where they fit in in the small town setting. This is a horror film after all, so thankfully there’s not a whole lot that needs to be explained before we can get into the nitty gritty.  The cast is a regular cavalcade of 80’s “hey I recognize that guy” actors. Jack Nance (a staple of David Lynch films), Paul McCrane (the dude that gets mutated and splattered near the end of Robocop), and Art LaFleur (who was in Trancers, as well as a zillion other things) are all in it, and hell, before  Kevin Dillon was known as Vinnie Chase’s big bro Johnny Drama on HBO’s Entourage, his biggest starring role was arguably as Brian Flagg in the 1988 remake of The Blob.

If I seem to dump praise on this film it’s because it’s honestly one of the better done horror films of the 80’s, and if you consider yourself to be a 80’s fan or a horror fan you owe it to yourself to see it.  It’s got gore, suspense, and some awesome gooey special effects that you’ve come to know and love. To top it all off, you get to stare at Kevin Dillon‘s magnificent mullet, and you really can’t get too much of that. My only complaints are that as with most horror films, some of the plot holes are big enough to drive a truck through, and at times it felt like this film borrowed too much from other films I’d already seen.  Even with those concerns, The Blob really hit the spot, and I’d have to give it 4.5 swallowed movie goers out of 5.

The Blob: [usr=4.5]

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