The Blob (1958 USA)

Hardly substantial enough to be a guilty pleasure, let alone a cult film: a giant quivering mound of raspberry (or is it blackcurrant?) jelly chasing – and often catching – fleeing, highly respectable teenagers on a weekend night. From the moment we hear Burt Bacharach’s opening theme song “Beware of the Blob!” we know we’re in for a good, solid, campy light hearted fun. Refreshingly free of any scientific investigation/jargon. I like to watch this stuff for historical reasons: the 50’s cars, teens in high collar shirts and high pants, crime-free suburbia, Polio posters, proper girls, crooked teeth, chess games, super friendly cops…

…of course its total utter bollocks but it doesn’t harm one to imbibe such harmless fluff. Bad-boy actor Steven McQueen, 28 going on 18, as Steve Andrews, leads the local teenagers into a battle to save their town from a giant pile of purple slop. This is an unusual film in that it acknowledges the perception of a “generation gap” but suggests that it is more imaginary than real, and that given a real crisis, people will naturally band together to restore order. The authorities’ initial skepticism of the kids’ wild claims is proved wrong–and once the threat is acknowledged by everyone, all conflict within the society disappears.

So what is it about “The Blob” that makes people remember it so fondly? For starters, it’s in colour, where most films of its type were in black and white. For another thing, it had some great old hot rods in it, something a lot of teenage boys (and boys whose teenage years were far behind them) could identify with. Also, the teenagers in the story didn’t act like teenagers at the time were so often portrayed as: wise-ass, smart-mouthed punks. Yes, this bunch could be seen as a bunch of candy-assed pussies who do nothing more dangerous than creep out of their bedroom windows at night then drive backwards. But they respect their elders!

The pulsing strawberry jelly representing the inexplicable entity from outer space looks like The Horror From Aunt Fanny’s Farm but who cares? The Blob does blob out at times though, and I’m not referring to our titular villain: McQueen and Girl have just dropped off the old man at the local doctor’s office, after speeding him there in their convertible. Seeing McQueen’s car zipping down the main street rouses the testosterone of some other high school jock types and they challenge McQueen to a race, driving backwards along one of the streets. The police chief, Dave, stops McQueen and questions him sarcastically. Just exactly what did McQueen think he was doing? Steve goes ‘duh’ a few times and rubs his forehead.

The cop continues with his interrogation. “Do you realize you’re in the wrong lane?” And so on — for five minutes, while back at the doc’s office the Blob is eating everybody in sight but has been completely forgotten for the sake of a few chuckles from the teen-aged audience it was aimed at. When the cop releases the couple, they are stopped by the other tidy high schoolers and thoroughly joshed by them — for another five minutes, while back at the doc’s office the Blob consumes the doctor himself, the nurse, the medical equipment, the Norman Rockwell painting on the wall, the left-over Chinese takeaway & a chilled bottle of Michelob Lite in the refrigerator. All of it forgotten. At this point the director quite literally ‘lost the plot’. But the real reason The Blob is such a cult classic is because its a time capsule of when a watermelon cost 4 cents a pound and 80 cents got you into an all-night spook show. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Highly entertaining review! I am ashamed to admit I haven’t checked out this McQueen gem yet, but it’s now on my (Halloween) to-watch list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cheers. When you do get to see it your IQ will raise a few points. 🙂

    Like

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