NOVEMBER 15, 2010
The best thing I can say about Larry Hagman’s sole directing effort Beware! The Blob (aka Son Of The Blob) is that it’s got a halfway decent ending, with the blob trapping what passes for our main characters in a bowling alley. Unfortunately, you have to sit through about 70 minutes of unparalleled nonsense (BORING nonsense at that), which isn’t exactly the best risk vs reward scenario. Now I understand why so many people wanted to see who shot Larry Hagman; they probably wanted to make sure they thanked the right person (or yelled at them for not doing the job right).
Apparently, the script was ignored and most of the film was improvised, and it shows. I can’t imagine how bad the script was if they decided THIS was better; a film largely comprised of endless scenes of hippies bickering, telling bad jokes, or basically doing anything that didn’t involve being eaten by a giant ball of Jell-O. Not that the original could be mistaken for a Michael Bay-paced affair, but at least the blob had a consistent presence once it showed up – here it seems half the people aren’t aware of danger even in the third act.
It also had a definable main character, unlike this thing, where our hero can only be labeled as such because he appears more than once in the first hour, unlike everyone else. But he’s dead weight; the transfer from Steve McQueen in the original to this kid is akin to going from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Danny Glover, or Jim Carrey to Jamie Kennedy. Except worse, because at least Glover and Kennedy can hold their own if freed from precedent. This kid (who is also Charlie X from the classic Star Trek episode) would pale in comparison to a ham sandwich in terms of screen presence.
It’s not his fault though; the movie just plain sucks. It doesn’t help that the blob changes consistency constantly – sometimes its liquid-y, other times it seemingly has a skin over it. Needless to say, the FX work is largely terrible; every now and then there’s a nice shot (like when it pours through multiple rectangular slats at the bowling alley), but most of the time it’s confined to a corner of the screen while a bad actor pretends to be getting engulfed by it. They even botch a silhouette kill! I mean, the only reason to DO a silhouette kill is to “show” a guy being eaten or whatever using animation and other came tricks, but Hagman bungles this as well, showing the shadow sort of near the actor’s shadow and then cutting to reaction shots.
And while I assume the film is supposed to be funny and not meant to be taken seriously (they even watch the original Blob at one point; making this a Gremlins 2-esque meta sequel), it’s not particularly funny, either. There’s one kind of amusing scene where a hippie wanders into a barbershop and the guy tells him he’s “a sculptor, not a barber”, and then demands 400 dollars for a cut (which the hippie agrees to), and I liked the kid at the end asking for his lighter, but otherwise it’s just painful. Plus the kill a little kitty in the first 10 minutes; now you’ve made me upset – it would take the greatest comic minds in the world to get me back on your side. And let’s face it, the folks Hagman has assembled are hardly top notch comedic legends – even Burgess Meredith barely made me crack a smile. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that the line “It’s gonna be a better world without this thing” was an intentional howler; if it was supposed to be said without irony than this movie is even stupider than I thought.
Also, I hated that it took the entire movie for them to figure out that cold harmed it. Half-assed sequel or not, there should be a rule that any weakness the monster has should be introduced early in the sequel, only to discover that the monster has evolved and that it’s no longer harmed by it. But nope, even with an air conditioner scaring the thing off around the 50 minute mark, it takes another half hour for these geniuses to consider the cold as a weapon.
Oddly, I kind of hope that the (2nd) remake of The Blob goes forward, just so we can get a funny sequel (again, like Gremlins 2). The Stuff sort of explored this area, but I’d love to see a modern (and decent budgeted) take on the “genre”, with a good cast and some fun cameos. It could be a damn good time. And hippie free!
What say you?