The epicenter of the 'Fest is the Colonial Theatre, setting for the famous "run out" sequence which features the Blob squishing it's way into the theatre via the projection booth and chasing the movie goers out into the street. Appropriately, the weekend long slate of events kicks off with a reenactment of this quintessential scene. Friday night's activities culminate in this screaming mass exodus of the Theatre's patrons out to the cordoned off street. Into the waiting cameras of local news affiliates and over a thousand spectators they flee, screaming and smiling. However, before that, there's a crazy campy variety show which always sells out. Highlights of the show include Blobfest hosts Dr. Frank N. Stone and Dr. Ima Hack, the award presentation for "The Shortys" (short film contest named for The Blob director Shorty Yeaworth), New York City horror hosts (and convention regulars) Ghoul A Go-Go, a scream contest hosted by The Patient Creatures (monstrous story tellers and horror con regulars), and a dance number. The band, Tiki Riki & The Mayans, swept the crowd with sweet island music (this years' Fest had and island tiki theme).
First time Blobfest attendees should make it a point to attend the Friday night run out event, but the sweet meat of the weekend occurs on Saturday. The all day street fair invaded downtown Phoenixville at eleven a.m.. One end of Bridge street was blocked off to show case classic cars from the fifties and earlier. Joining these hot rods was the actual fire engine featured in the filming of The Blob (now in the hands of a private collector). The other end of the street housed a plethora of vendors hawking everything from DVDs of horror flicks only available on VHS (The VHS Preservation Society), retro Universal lobby cards, custom posters from Chris Garofalo of Quiltface Studios (responsible for many of the Colonial's custom cult and horror series posters), even bootleg pieces of the Blob to take home as key chains; there was something for every kind of horror aficionado available.
Near the main stage, local rockabilly band, The Buzzards, filled the air with hip sounds of the vintage variety. Many attendees were already decked out in their best 50's duds and for those desiring an authentically styled 'doo, John's Old School New School barber shop was setup near the band, cutting and greasing hair to go along with the nostalgia flowing freely at the 'Fest. I arrived prepared, with my best bowling shirt and my hair properly shellacked in place for maximum retro badassery.
Events officially kicked off at noon with the fire extinguisher parade. Fitting that they'd start the festivities where the film ends: with teenagers brandishing the instrument of The Blob's destruction. The costume contest was open to all ages and featured a really well made Gort (The Day the Earth Stood Still) and a very brave fellow transformed from head to toe as The Creature (from the black lagoon). Olde City Side Show shocked and wowed the crowd with acts of sword swallowing, contortionism, goldfish swallowing and some more things; all ghoulish. I will say that I've never seen such an attractive woman do something so revolting... (she ate a fist full of live worms- get your mind out of the gutter, maniac!).
Inside the Colonial Theatre itself, The Blob and The Day the Earth Stood Still (both in 35mm) played on rotation throughout the day, accompanied by live comedy from famed horror host Mr. Lobo (Cinema Insomnia) and the guys of Ghoul A-Go-Go. Upstairs, fans can actually check out the famous projection booth featured in the film and meet Wes Shank, the caretaker of the Blob silicone. What remains of the monster lives in a five gallon metal pail. Wes purchased it from Yeaworth in the 60's and has taken it upon himself to bring the Blob to evens, cons and each year's Blobfest. Mr. Shank has also authored an incredibly detailed book on the subject, which I cannot recommend enough for any fan looking to learn more. It's entitled From Silicone to the Silver Screen: Memoirs of THE BLOB. Simply flipping through it that day, I learned an interesting factoid: The scene where the monster eats Doc Hallen, while Steve helpless watches from outside, was supposed to be longer, actually showcasing the screaming doctor being melted alive. It was considered too gruesome and was cut out of the film. It's absent from even the Criterion DVD, but Wes' book features a production still of it. Amazing!
Possibly my favorite part of the event is the Saturday night double feature; the late night spooky show. Each year The Blob is paired with a unique film. Some years, the paired film is strange, some years it's rare, often it's a crowd pleaser; this year it managed to be all three! Caltiki: The Immortal Monster is a 1959 Italian film created in the massive wake displaced by The Blob. It saw it's own director leave the production, which would make room for a young Mario Bava to take over. In it's favor are amazingly gruesome blob effects, an absurd premise with superb camp factor and some effective cinematography. However, it stumbles with pacing, a lack of relatable characters, and muddy print transfer (all the currently available retail releases are of middling visual quality).
Blobfest is always an awesome time, but it also proves to be quite the educational experience as well. This year I learned that it's best to go to the local microbrewery offering a custom blob beer first, as it's libel that the keg will kick early. I also found out that if you bring home a two foot by three foot oil painting of The Colonial Theatre with intentions of hanging it in your living room, you'd be well advised to text home asking how your significant other feels about that, first (still working on that one). Taking polaroid photos of static objects at a crowded street festival requires a whole mess of patience. And personal hydration is key, though salty popcorn will totally help you lock in some of that desperate to escape water.
Let me also state that never is it more important to have a solid messenger bag than it is for festivals and conventions (like Comic-con. See, brought that thought-thread full circle!). The amount of merch which I managed to horde within mine was staggering. I had to assuage the concerned look in my wife's eyes with an innocently rehearsed "Honey, some of this stuff was free!" (I was only marginally successful).
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 - Not of this Earth - Sci-Fi (1988)
Crackle - Easy Rider - Biker (1969)
YouTube - Beware! The Blob - Horror (1972)
Archive.org - Horror Hotel - Horror (1960)
Hulu - Mighty Peking Man - Giant Monster (1977)
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).