Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Blob (1958)


Starring Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe
Directed by Irvin Yeaworth
Science Fiction/ Horror
Rated PG

Summary:

The film begins with a really jazzy song called “Beware the Blob!” played over the opening credits. I’ll put a video of it down on the bottom in place of a trailer, because I can guarantee that once you get this snappy tune stuck in your head and can’t get it out, you’ll be more inclined to see this movie than you would if you saw the trailer.

The story begins with Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) in his car with his girlfriend Jane (Aneta Corsaut) up at Make-Out Point. Steve spots a meteor crash into the side of the hill, making the same mild impact as in “War of the Worlds”. Seriously, my brother has let off firecrackers that deliver more punch than Hollywood’s hurtling space debris. Steve and Jane go to check it out, but an old man and his dog get to the crash site first. The old man pokes the meteorite with a stick, releasing the blob, which latches onto him. Steve and Jane find the old man and race him to the doctor back in town. Shortly after the two teens leave, the blob swallows the old man and attacks the doctor and nurse. Steve sees the blob eat the doctor and runs to get help.

Conflict arises when the local police don’t believe Steve's story. So Steve, Jane and handful of other teens go out to hunt the Red Menace (That’s the Blob, not communism). The Blob eventually makes its presence known after consuming the local movie theater, and then the authorities go on the defensive. The police lieutenant calling the army to let them know that the blob has killed forty to fifty people. I’m curious how he came to that conclusion given how the only people we’ve seen the Blob kill are the old man, the doctor and his nurse. There was a janitor who was killed off screen, there’s no evidence to support that anyone in the theater was killed and it’s left ambiguous as to whether or not the old man’s dog eaten by the Blob.

In the state of panic produced by people running wildly every which way, Steve and Jane are trapped in a diner as the Blob consumes the building. It’s a surprising tense scene, but solution presents itself in the eleventh hour when Steve sprays the Blob with a CO2 fire extinguisher and concludes that the Blob can’t stand the cold. That certainly explains why it would attack a movie theater that boasted of it’s air conditioning. Wait, Huh?

The fire department hoses down the Blob until it shrinks and the army comes to pick it up for disposal at the North Pole. Steve asks “Are you sure it won’t hurt anyone again?” The lieutenant replies, “As long as the Artic says cold.” A response which is likely to get a chuckle out of most modern viewers.

Analysis:

This movie was Steve McQueen's debut role, despite the fact that he’s 28 years old and playing a 17 year old. Like anything Steve McQueen is in, his performance steals the show. His inflections and delivery sound very natural and make you believe in his character. His cohorts have a certain goonishness to them that makes you makes you believe that they really are rowdy teenagers. In contrast the adult characters struggle to say their wooden dialogue in any way convincingly.

There are a few violations of my “Show, Don’t Tell” rule, with the off-screen death of the supermarket janitor, made doubly worse by the fact that Steve is also off-screen when he tells us that he found the abandoned mop and bucket. There’s also a scene towards the end when a police officer tells another that diner is on fire, and the other replies “Yes, it is.” It’s almost as if saying its on fire, will make it real in our minds since we never see the fire.

There are so effective spooky scenes such as when Steve and Jane are sneaking through the supermarket after dark knowing the Blob could be just around the corner, it’s effectively scary. There are also a few legitimate laughs, like when some of the other teens think they’ve found the blob hiding in the bushes, only to discover that its two other teens they’ve caught necking.

Overall it’s a little cheesy and a bit clumsy in a few places but it is far from clich├ęd.

Final Score:

3 ½ out of 5. Friday Night Fun.


Trivia Time:

The Poster outside of the theater for "The Vampire and The Robot" is actually an altered poster for "Forbidden Planet".


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