Shock-O-Rama: The Blob - Mania.com



Shock-O-Rama: The Blob

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Shock-O-Rama: The Blob

Nothing Can Stop It!

By Chuck Francisco     June 30, 2012
Source: Mania.com

With last week's remake face off in the books, it's time to turn the tables and sharpen focus on a cinematic treasure whose remake isn't nearly as important as the real McCoy. I'm talking, of course, about 1958's The Blob. Many folks might cry foul; loudly proclaiming the Kevin Dillon (brother of Matt) powered version from 1988 as the superior all devouring monster movie. And with full disclosure in mind, I must admit that that I've got a horse in this race, as a film programmer and host at The Colonial Theatre (the movie palace showcased in the famous "run out" scene of the film). Other scenes were shot in and around my town. I've had the pleasure of being wholly consumed by the Blob (pun totally intentional). Before I get a head of myself, how about a run down of the flick in question?

The Blob is timeless 50's the tale of two "teenagers" out for a smooching session in a styling blue 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook. Steve McQueen (billed as "Steven McQueen" here) is just about to clear the hurtles of Jane's (Aneta Corsaut) inhibitions when a meteorite comes crashing down in their vicinity. Good thing too, since McQueen was 27 at the time of shooting; well outside the range for acceptable teenage necking. They decide to investigate, but an old timer reaches the site first. With a character name like "Old Man" (former silent film actor Olin Howard in his final role) you just know he's going to make a huge mistake. Not wanting to disappoint, he decides the best course of action is to poke the gooey center of a crashed space rock with a nearby stick. Any gal with a semblance of dignity objects to that sort of treatment, and so does our monster, latching itself onto our bumbling fellow's hand. 

 

As it presumably hurts quite a bit when a gelatinous fiend dissolves your hand, Old Man runs screaming into the road and is almost creamed by Steve and Jane. As good 50's kids, they rush him to see the town doctor, who calls in his nurse to assist and tasks our heroes with returning to the scene to find the coot's family. This is where The Blob diverts course and serves up several slices of small town teenage shenanigans of the bobbie sox variety. Steve and Jane are challenged to a drag race by pushy, but quite friendly, local goons; they're scolded by the amiable town cop who doesn't want to take them in; they're invited to a midnight movie spooky show at the "healthfully air conditioned" Colonial Theatre; they even decide to take in the old man's dog for the time being. 

 

 

They return to the doc's house in time for Steve to witness his gruesome digestion by our gelatinous donut filling horror. The lead cop, Lt Dave, is sympathetic but there isn't any evidence to back up claims of an outer space monstrosity. This wouldn't be a horror film if anyone believed their story and so the mad dash to warn the town before it's too late begins. Would it shock you to know that the plot sees teens and the authority, so often at odds in cinema, banding together and vanquishing the creature through cooperation that's void of snarky insults? It's one of the many kookie charms of this beloved film, which is truly more than it's undulating surface would let on.
 
There's so much campy 50's kitsch crammed into The Blob that it was forced to turn in it's horror film card. Being warmly regarded as a delightful romp has undone many a formerly monstrous movie. Though here the stage was seemingly set on purpose. The opening theme of the movie (Beware of the Blob, video below) is cheeky and upbeat in the style of Burt Bacharach, to whom the tune is commonly (though likely erroneously) attributed (there's plenty of debate to this day on the subject). The happy opening music was apparently concocted to be as non threatening as possible to go soft on the easily frightened among the audience. Ironically, it may very well be that choice which has allowed the film to catch on with even non-horror crowds and extended it's cult durability. 
 

The events of the periphery, the behind the scenes mojo, are jam packed with these kinds of tidbits, becoming legendary genre tales. Directed by Irvin "Shorty" Yeaworth, who helmed a large number of educational and religious shorts for the now long gone Valley Forge Studios, this independent science fiction monster movie wore a number of other titles before being crowned as The Blob. With outrageously fun working titles like: The Molten Meteor, The Meteorite Monster, The Glob, The Glob that Girdled the World, and The Night of the Creeping Dead; the final choice was motivated by concern over a similarly titles children's book (Walt Kelly's The Glob, not Rob Zombie's The Night of the Creeping Dead).
 

Filmed in and around Chester County, Pennsylvania for an estimated budget of around $110,000 this was to be the B picture portion of a double bill with I Married a Monster from Outer Space. Early test audiences were apparently so enamored with The Blob that the billing was flip flopped (and you've likely never heard of Gene Fowler Jr. directed tale of a transforming monster husband). Steve McQueen, still not the well known star, reportedly took between $2,500 and $3,000 for this film over a much smaller upfront sum with 10% of the film's gross. He needed to pay bills right away and likely didn't expect a film called The Blob to gross $4 million dollars. That's some expensive $400,000 egg on his face, but he'd be breaking big onto the scene not too long afterward anyway (and we got a cool factoid out of it!).

 

The Blob itself is made of silicon and was originally clear. As it digested more Downingtown denizens red vegetable dye was added, leading to the dark pink consistency which we all know and love.  Today it's kept in its original five gallon metal canister by caretaker Wes Shank, who lovingly shares it with convention goers and Blobfest attendees. Interestingly, in it's room temperature form, the Blob is rigidly solid. On set, it needed to be warmed and heated so it could appear supple and move on camera.

 

 

The original The Blob remains a celebrated classic, embodying many nostalgic ideas: the 50's, classic science fiction, teenage hijinks, unbelieving adults, unstoppable monsters and unapologetic Americana. I absolutely love this movie and can't wait for Blobfest 2012 (July 13th, 14th and 15th). Blobfest is a weekend of horror hosts, costume contests and macabre mania; and it's all based in Phoenixville, PA. Look forward to plenty of pictures and a full recap of that event right here on Mania. 

 

 

Saturday Shock-O-Rama Streaming Suggestions

Want to watch something schlocky right now? Try on a few of these suggestions, available right now from the listed service (most of which are FREE!).

Netflix -  Creepshow 2 - Anthology Horror (1987)
Crackle -  Starship Troopers - SciFi/Action (1997)
YouTube - The Furred Man - Horror Short (2010)
Archive.org - Detour - Noir (1945)
Hulu - The Legend of the Wolf Woman - Horror (1976)

And if you simply can't get enough horror happenings here on Mania, might I humbly suggest checking out Tuesday Terrors? It's got all the shocking news to keep you current (and possibly help you survive until the credits roll).

Chuck Francisco is a columnist for Mania writing Saturday Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a horror co-host of two monthly film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA (home of 1958's 'The Blob'): First Friday Fright Nights and Colonial Cult Cinema.You can delve further into his love of all things weird and campy on his blog, The Midnight Cheese or hear him occasionally guesting on eminent podcast You've Got Geek.

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 11
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MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 6/30/2012 1:46:44 AM

Love him or hate him I really wanted to see how Rob Zombie's version of The Blob would have turned out.  I like the remake better than the original immensely but they are both good.

DarthoftheDead 6/30/2012 7:24:21 AM

MrJBE - I agree 100%

joelr 6/30/2012 7:37:05 AM

Chuc, great stuff! See you at Blobfest!

TheSeeeker 6/30/2012 10:37:43 AM

Saw the Blob when I was a young child growing up in the early 70's and that movie traumatized me with the scene of the Blob getting the auto mechanic under the car in his shop. Every night before I went to sleep I'd check under my bed for the Blob ...true story.

doublec 6/30/2012 1:26:12 PM

 Hey, Oh Movie Guy, many of us have in fact heard of I Married A Moster From Outer Space! Great little film itself (if not quite on The Blob's level). Love watching Tom Tryon knock that door out of the wall!

And I LOVE the idea of a Blobfest! And It starts on my Birthday!!! Wish I could be there but I'm stuck in CA...

RobertTrate 6/30/2012 1:40:32 PM

 Blob Fest is a lot of fun. The Colonial is a classic theatre in every sense of the word. Oh if it weren;t for Comic Con being the same day!

DrZarkov 7/1/2012 4:43:06 AM

In the 80s I rented a house in Dublin, NH from Kate Phillips, one of the screen writers for the original Blob. She said that the inspiration for the creature was her husband, who was a large, ornery man; with a huge voice like Orson Wells (they both got their start on radio). I can believe she could have derived a monster from him. Every morning as I got into my car to go to work, he would open his window (it was a 2 family house and they lived upstairs) and yell in his bellowing tone "Get a haircut, you goddamn hippie!" Kate, however was quite a lovely person who taught theater at Keene State College and always had wonderful stories of the golden days of radio dramas.

fenngibbon 7/1/2012 10:51:25 AM

 Is it silicon or silicone?  I see those two getting mixed up a lot.

InnerSanctum 7/1/2012 1:04:45 PM

 Fantastic article!  Thank you for sharing.  I know, if the show was a bit closer, I'd be up for a Blobfest.  Rank right up there with going to the Lebowskifest (two different animals, I know, but I love me a good "fest".)

I saw the Blob when I was about five years old.  It was tramatic to my system.  I have to say, the opening scene, the part where the Blob is trying to get to our heroes under the door of the refidgerated room and the threat to the little  boy and dog stuck with me (pun not intended.)   I've always had a love for this movie.  I don't even bother to compare the 80's version.  I think they were both great fun and the 80's Blob did proper homage to the original (for that matter, Stephen King did the same thing in his segment of Creepshow.  Warnilng:  Don't poke the meteor.)  To me, a remake is unnecessary as both films still remain highly entertaining.  

Glad to see all the love for this film and little triva tidbits.   

Wiseguy 7/1/2012 6:30:30 PM

Love both versions but the original was one of the first horror films I ever saw and creeped the hell out of me. Those memories and feelings are hard to topple

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