Friday, January 7, 2011

The Blob (1988)

Starring Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith
Directed by Chuck Russell
Rated R

The movie opens with a decent from space to shots of a small, empty town in Anywhere, USA. There is foreboding music in the background to help establish the dark tone.

Aside of a few details, the story is the same as the original 1958 “The Blob”, with a Blob monster falling from outer space, consuming unsuspecting victims and its up to two teenagers to try and stop it from destroying the town.

The best thing about this film is how efficiently it uses the first act to establish its characters. Each person has a little bit of dimension and development so that they all seem important to a certain degree and results in all the more surprise and shock when a character becomes a victim of the Blob. It really helps the audience to care about trying to stop the situation and really invests us in the story more so than your average monster run amok type of movie.

Instead of just being regular teenagers, our lead characters are Brian is a juvenile delinquent with authority issues and Meg, a goody-good cheerleader from a wealthy family. They have decent chemistry but nowhere near as much charisma as Steve McQueen and company in the original.

The Blob effects in this version are decent. It should really go without saying that this is a bloodier and gorier Blob, so we get to see it tear apart and digest its victims, getting redder as it eats more, colored by the blood. While this Blob has more onscreen kills than the original, the actual deaths we do see are so brief that the shock sticks to our subconscious and comes across as more terrifying in our minds.

The problem is that the menace of the Blob is undermined by the introduction of a human antagonist, the corrupt government scientist Dr. Meaddows. While it first he comes across as an eleventh hour savior to stop the monster, his wooden and exposition heavy dialogue really give him away. He brings the story to a halt as he explains that the Blob is a biological weapon that he has designed and how he’d rather let the entire town be destroyed that have his experiment be lost. He’s just relishes in what a two dimensional bad guy he is and it really upstages the motiveless Blob. He death by the creature he created is far more satisfactory to the viewer than the destruction of the Blob in the end.

Speaking of which, the climax occurs when a “Jaws”-style tank explosion. Meg suddenly starts acting like Sigourney Weaver from “Aliens” and spewing typical monster killing dialogue firing multiple shots from an assault rifle trying to hit the Liquid Nitrogen tank that will freeze the Blob.

That would be the end of it, but right before the end we see a demented priest go on and on about how the Blob is a sign of the end of the world in a manner that’s beyond cliché.

A very well written script up until the third act, were we are sidelined by clichés. The Blob effects are good, but are starting to show their age. It is well made, but nowhere near as fun or as memorable as the original.

Final Score:

3 out of 5. Effective Horror.

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