FEBRUARY 23, 2007
Today was another “it’s been awhile” film, 1988’s The Blob. I used to watch this movie all the time when I was a kid, but sometime around 1992 I stopped for some reason. I probably accidentally taped over it with Dr. Giggles or some shit. But it had come up at a recent party when a friend and I were discussing how we both used to watch it all the time to ogle Shawnee Smith. Certainly that’s not a bad reason to watch a movie. So I “top of the queue”d it the next day.
My fondest (and pretty much only, at this point) memory of the film was that it taught me what a condom was. There’s a pretty good gag of a kid buying condoms from a pharmacist who turns out to be the father of the girl he’s about to take out (I know that’s not accurate but to explain it properly would be just confusing. If you’ve seen it, you know what part I mean). I was 9 years old and didn’t understand what he was buying or why the father would be angry, so I had it explained to me. I related this anecdote to Ms. Smith at a horror convention some years later. It came off as creepy. I hope she has forgotten it.
It’s not a straight remake, though it’s closer than many. This time around, the meteor was actually a government sanctioned test of a biochemical weapon. It went bad, so a group of hazmat guys come along to clean up the town and cause more headaches for our heroes. The original had none of this. And I’m not sure it was necessary. I don’t need everything explained. And “Evil Government Guys” are never as exciting as filmmakers think they are. Luckily, it doesn’t detract from the monster action.
None of that matters though. What matters is this: Kevin Dillon’s hair. It’s a bizarre mix of a mullet and a perm. I can safely say without hyperbole that it’s the greatest haircut in film history. Steve McQueen may have been a cooler guy overall, but his hair was pretty lame in the original. When I watched the original, I wasn’t even aware he was a badass for a while. But Dillon, you know right from the start that he’s ‘trouble’. He later licks Paul McCrane’s face, which if nothing else partially explains the perm.
Speaking of Paul McCrane, does the dude ever live to the end of a film? And his deaths are always so colorful. He was mashed by a car in Robocop, sliced up by a helicopter on ER (where he had previously lost a hand to another helicopter. Or maybe it was the same one, finishing the job), and tortured by his brother then poisoned by his father on 24. Here he is bent in half and sucked through a doorway, similar to the way that one girl was killed in Ryan Schifrin’s Abominable, only he's less hot.
Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont perfectly balanced the fine line between intentional silliness and genuine suspense. The concept is ridiculous, but the characters aren’t in on the joke. The gore is excessive and thus part of the fun. And yes, a child character is eaten by the Blob. I think it’s sort of a clear indicator that a film is meant to amuse when a kid is killed off. If the filmmakers wanted you to take them seriously, the kid would live. Even more amusing is that the kid went on to be the dude that accidentally shot himself on an early episode of 90210.
Sadly, the film was a dud when released in the summer of 1988. Looking back, it’s not a surprise: 1988’s top horror film was Nightmare on Elm St 4 (useless trivia: the Blob team were behind the previous Nightmare film, Dream Warriors, which is by far the best sequel). Clearly the audiences wanted their stupidity in a non-intentional way.
And for the record, I look forward to the remake. Why? BECAUSE THIS WAS A REMAKE. So what is the argument this time, remake haters? “Why can’t people just watch the original that was a remake of another original”?? It’s what I call a “Horror Hypocriticism”. Remakes are hated right off the bat, just on principal, when three of the best horror films (inclusive: remakes, sequels, originals) of the 1980’s were in fact, remakes. So just shut up until you’ve seen it.
What say you?