Friday, April 24, 2015

My Take on The Blob (1988) by Chuck Russell

A moment’s preamble:  In June of 2014 I began graduate school at Seton Hill seeking an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. This term I’m enrolled in a course that focuses on MONSTERS, and as a part of that course I’ll blog on each book/story/movie covered.

My review breaks down into 4 parts: Strength of Character, Genre potency, Poignancy of themes, and Entertainment Value. For each of these I will assign a letter grade. My reviews will contain **SPOILERS**

The Blob is a 1988 monster movie directed by Chuck Russell and a remake of a 1958 film of the same name.

Strength of Character: D-

Let’s count the tropes: Jock football-player nice-guy with a friend who’s a Jock football-player asshat. There’s a cheerleader prom-queen with more mettle than expected and a hobo miscreant with shoddy dirt-makeup. Let’s not forget the outsider-badass-mulleteer (“Mulleteer” copyrighted by Luke Elliott 2015) (Not really). Throw in the little boys as the meta-horror-movie fans and the ineffectual sheriff and you’ve well on your way to a baker’s dozen of jelly-filled character tropes.

At least Meg kicked a little ass.
Genre Strength: C

Sorry, you aren't the protagonist. Mullets are required.
Ok so Mr. Nice Paul going early was a clever choice. And this is the first of several money-shots of the film, AKA what we paid to see, and that’s people get swallowed up and dissolved by The Blob. A lot of the effects were effective in these moments, although they were reminiscent of The Thing (1982), and not quite on par, so it’s hard to award too many points. Another stand-out scene was the woman barricaded in the phone booth, surrounded by the blob. The voice on the other end of the line informs her that the sheriff should already be there, and up he floats, complete with identifying badge-shot.

The bigger shots of The Blob, especially in motion, were mostly awful/silly/ridiculous, with the one exception being the blob splayed out in the theater digesting movie-goers. The bits of cheese-ball comedy were sprinkled in that reminded us that this movie isn’t to be taken seriously.

Thematic Poignancy: D

These are the themes I picked up on: Cops, authority-figures, and adults in general, can’t help you. They’re just people too. The government isn’t just untrustworthy, it’s nefarious. The arms race with Russia is out of control, and the folly of the men who first split the atom is doomed to be repeated.

None of these are particularly fresh or even that interesting. In fact, they felt like a shoddy knockoff of the themes of a lot of the other major 80s movies.

Entertainment Value: C-

Somebody really thought motorcycles were badass. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why we were subjected to all the flimsily-setup motorcycle stunts. There’s a lot of that sort of flimsy plot devices being put to use, like the catch in the zipper, hiding in the freezer, etc.

There were a few nice twists, I admit. Especially when The Blob seems to be an alien hitchhiking on the back of a meteorite, but it’s revealed to be man-made.

The scenes involving the two boys, where they discussed horror movie tropes and dealt with the obnoxious guy behind them in the theater, were some of the most entertaining of the film. There is a certain element of fun to the movie. A sense that it knows what it is, a fairly predictable monster flick, and harbors no illusions of grandeur, and decides to be playful with these scenes. The Blob knows it’s no better than the slasher-movie the kids saw at the theater and that any clever movie-goer can predict the outcome of all the major plot points.

Random Notes and Final Grade: D+

* *Slaps newspaper down, revealing face* “Ribbed!”

* I spent half the movie believing the actor who played Brian Flag was a young Ethan Hawke. It was Kevin Dillon, in case you’re wondering.
* What exactly is the purpose of a snow-maker truck equipped with a bulldozer on the front? Is snow-making a sought after service I’m unaware of?

* The girl almost saves the day, then oops, she trips, and our mulleteer has to rescue her. *Yawn* 

* Hey look guys, an “It Lives!” ending


  1. I agree with your final assessment. The general consensus of the class was they liked it and didn't expect much. But I say, "for the love of God, give me SOMETHING for my 90 minutes!"

  2. But it was so much fun! These were by far the best death scenes I've seen all semester. Also, in response to you snow making truck: ski resorts use them for the slopes sometimes. Also I loved the comedy of this, especially the condom scene haha!