Blob, The (1958)

“I don’t know what this is — but it’s got to be killed before it gets any bigger!”

Synopsis:
When a dating couple (Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut) encounter an elderly man (Olin Howland) whose arm is covered with a gooey substance, they seek assistance from a local doctor (Steven Chase) and his nurse (Lee Payton), who are soon trapped by the all-encompassing blob, too. The town’s police — including Lt. Dave (Earl Rowe) and Office Jim Bert (John Benson) — are unsure whether the blob is real or simply a scheme by local teens to fool the cops; can McQueen convince authorities to take this issue seriously, before the entire town is engulfed in viscous red gunk?

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary’s incredibly short review of this “low-budget sci-fi film” by Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. — “once a drive-in favorite” — gives no indication that it would one day merit the full “Criterion treatment”, with restoration and commentaries provided. He does write that it’s “still fun” and “one of the few films of the fifties that was totally on the side of the teenagers”, though he adds the “creepy first half… loses momentum and becomes stilted until the rousing conclusion.” I’m not a huge fan of this slowly paced (perhaps deliberately so?) thriller, which seems to be trying to address too many audiences and themes at once in its mash-up of juvenile delinquent films with young romance and a mysterious alien presence. DVD Savant has a slightly different take, noting that “the story captures the slow pace of rural life, interrupted by something extraordinary.” Regardless of whether the blob represents something profoundly catastrophic or simply a laughable nuisance, this flick is worth a one-time look for its notoriety.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Colorful and atmospheric cinematography


Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its historic relevance.

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2 Responses to “Blob, The (1958)”

  1. A hugely entertaining monster mash with vivid colour cinematography and an entertaining and creepy scenario. Significant as (I think) McQueen’s first leading role and as a popular, if not critical success.

    A minor must see when stacked up against its more significant sci-fi and horror brethren from the ’50s but worth seeing.

    Interestingly, the 1988 remake is at least equally good if not better. Needless to say, it’s not a must see.

  2. Not must-see… except for those who have an interest in early alien flicks.

    It seems to me that the film’s reputation is better than the film itself – because it’s not really that good – until the last 15 minutes, when at least things are finally thrust into full-tilt.

    Once the instigating incident occurs, the audience is allowed to fall into a period of sluggishness that seems to last a good 20 minutes (which is a sort of death to an 83-minute movie). We’re given a few follow-up incidents (minor in nature) which are also followed-up by sluggishness (these downslides are really dull). The lack of action reveals that the premise doesn’t leave the film with much of anyplace to go – except to get rid of the menace.

    Granted, the conclusion is somewhat lively but it’s a long haul getting there.

    The 1988 remake proves John Waters’ conviction that one should only remake films that originally had potential but didn’t work the first time. ‘The Blob’ is a prime example ’cause the remake is a doozy that delivers (and a must-see for fans of the genre).

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