Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Blob (1988)

To celebrate the release of Frank Darabont's The Mist we will look back upon Frank Darabont's The Blob. He didn't actually direct The Blob, but he contributed to the screenplay, along with Chuck Russell (who directed). In fact, Darabont cut his teeth by writing such 80s schlock as The Fly 2 and The Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. He is perhaps best known for writing Mary Shelly's Frankenstein as well as a little known film called The Shawshank Redemption. If you get TNT it's possible you've seen it. Chuck Russell directed Dream Warriors as well as the Jim Carrey vehicle, The Mask. He followed those "classics" up with such crap as Eraser, Bless The Child, and The Scorpion King, so clearly his career went down the shitter. Boy, did he get off to a great start though because The Blob is a fantastic little gem from the "small town accosted by science/meteor/aliens gone awry" genre, a genre that includes such classics as Critters, Slither, Night of the Creeps, The Being, etc, etc. Quite possibly, my favorite type of movie.

"Timing is everything" - Paul Taylor, star wide receiver of the Aborville Colorodo High School football team, all around hunk, and Blob food.

A truer statement has never been uttered. I take it to mean that this movie, this remake, was made at the perfect time. If made today, it would feature soulless CGI and vapid pretty teeny boppers. Thankfully, it was made in the late 80s so instead of Tom Welling and Jordana Brewster we are treated to the likes of vintage Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith (before she fucked it all up by starring in the Saw quadrilogy). We're even treated to some terrific character work by Joe Seneca (Seaquest DSV), Paul McCrane (Robocop and Dr. Romano from E.R.), Bill Mosely (The Devil's Rejects), Candy Clark (Q), and Jeffrey DeMunn (The Mist).

Here's the plot. Once again, the government has fucked us over. It's never a good idea to conduct genetic experiments in outer space, but, you know what? The government could fucking care less. Darabont is infatuated with the idea of the government fucking shit up. Whether it be through our faulty prison system (see Shawshank and The Green Mile), genetic experiments (see This Movie and The Fly II) or through creating rifts in the time space continuum (The Mist; a FANTASTIC movie, by the way). Anyway, the Blob. It starts as a meteor, lands in the outskirts of Arborville, latches onto an old hobo, and then makes its way to the Emergency room where the movie pulls a Psycho on us. By that, I mean, a character that's been set up as a hero is offed in the most horrific way imaginable. Perhaps, I've said too much already.

The movie is full of great special effects (notice I didn't say for its day?). Ok, there is one terrible effect, where the blob chases Brian (Dillon) and Meg (Smith) along the ceiling in the diner, but it's forgiveable and kinda nostalgic. There are several great scenes, including the aformentioned E.R. scene, the diner scene (Yep, we get to see a guy blobbed and squeezed through a tiny drain), and a sewer scene. The best scene is a remake of a scene from the original, as a couple of kids, Meg's brother and his headphone addicted pal Eddie, sneak into an R rated slasher film. They have to endure an asshole who likes to give away plot points immediately before they happen. What kind of a sick fuck would do that shit? It's clear Darabont and Russell despise this fucker too because shortly thereafter, yup, you guessed it. Blobbed. By the time the blob hits the theatre, it has consumed a third of the town and is by now, enormous.

As soon as the government shows up, we know who the REAL villains are. Led by Dr. Meddows (Joe Seneca), they are all dressed in white bio containment suits and carry automatic weapons. Here's a taste of how much Meddows values human life:

"This isn't one of you text-book exercises, Mr. Jennings. This is an experiment in biological warfare, or hadn't you noticed? That organism is potentially the greatest breakthrough in weapons research since man split the atom. What we do here will affect the balance of world power! Of course there are lives at stake - whole nations, in fact. And that's far more important than a handful of people in this small town. And that is my cross to bear, Mr. Jennings. Now carry out your orders. "

Darabont would go on to help create "superior" films. To be honest, I don't care much for Shawshank or The Green Mile. To me, his heart seems to lie with the fantastic. I'm greatly pleased with his return to the genre this year with The Mist. It's possibly the best adaptation of a Stephen King horror story since The Mangler. Just kidding, since Sleepwalkers. Kidding again, Maximum Overdrive. Sheesh, I don't know when to stop, do I? You get the point though. Their have been a lot of shitty King movies. The Mist is the best since Misery and possibly even Kubrick's The Shining (a film King, himself, inexplicably, detests). If I had to describe The Mist in one sentence, I would say "if Maximum Overdrive and The Stand fucked, this would be their bastard child". Well, The Blob has nothing to do with Stephen King. Very little to do with Steve McQueen either. I'll just say that if the giant critter at the end of Critters were to have sex with the original The Blob and then take a post coital shit, this movie would be that runny pile of excrement. I mean that in the best possible way. It's a terrific horror picture. Check it out.

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I hope to be back shortly with another review, or possibly two.


Anonymous said...

I might be a blob after what I ate during Thanksgiving dinner today.


Beepy said...

Welcome back! You've been missed. Having been without you all month, I've been forced to watch some good movies.

I remember being terrified as a kid by the original Blob movie. It didn't help that I saw it one Saturday afternoon in the middle of nowhere.

Elmo said...

I'm still coming down from the glory that is Southland Tales. The Mist is excellent you say? Cause I loved Darabont's other Stephen King adaptations, and would like repayment for sitting through The Fog. Also, I think one of the "fuck"s in your review should have been a "suck."

brian said...

The Mist is infinitely superior to The Fog (both versions). It's rare to watch a movie that sustains tension for every minute. I never left the edge of my seat. Oh, and the ending is BEYOND fucked up.

Southland Tales is good, you say? I'm intrigued.

brian said...

Regarding "fuck", was it the line about Shawnee Smith? I'm always open to changing expletives.

brian said...

Before you guys jump all over me, let me just say that's I'm not disparaging Cronenberg's The Dead Zone. I love that film to pieces and am sorry that I didn't mention it. I also love Pet Semetary, and even though I think Maximum Overdrive sucks, I can still watch it over and over. Something about a steam roller flattening a helpless little leaguer melts my heart.

Elmo said...

Actually, I just reread the sentence and I was wrong.

Southland Tales is two plus hours of dreamstate bliss.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to steal the word "blobbed" from you and figure out a way use it in a sentance everyday.

I would also like to point out that there was no mention of Kevin Dillons mullet in the review. That mullet alone is worth 5 stars.

You're right on one thing though. If this movie was made today, that mullet would totally be CGI.


brian said...

You're right. I had intended to write a paragraph all about Dillon's mullet, but I forgot. Oh well, thanks for mentioning it. It's a thing of beauty.

Gianni said...

Welcome back to the land of the living, Brian.

Awesome review, I tried the other night to watch the original Steve McQueen version of the Blob free on demand, but couldn't get past the ridiculous opening theme. Now I know which Blob to watch!

brian said...

Yes Gianni!! Now we all know, Steve McQueen sucks balls!