The Blob

The Blob is currently available on Amazon Prime.

The Blob (1958) – Not Rated

“Two teenagers, after noticing a shooting star fall to earth, come upon a man howling with pain from a mass attached to his arm where the meteorite fell. The blob continues to grow, killing many, until the teenagers discover a way to stop it.”

I have to mention that The Blob is a complete ripoff of X, The Unknown and The Quatermass Xperiment. It steals a lot from both movies (and to be fair X steals from Quatermass as well). I have to mention it because out of the three, The Blob is the one that is remembered.

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) is an early Hammer horror movie about a manned rocket that returns to Earth. Two of the astronauts are dead but the third is undergoing a metamorphosis into a blob-like crature. It is adapted from a BBC serial and stars American actor Brian Donlevy as Professor Quatermass.

X the Unknown (1956) was hastily made by Hammer after the success of Quatermass. It deals with the British army and a few scientists led by Dr. Royston (Dean Jagger) fighting a radioactive blob-like creature in Scotland.

However in The Blob, instead of stodgy scientists discovering a gelatinous monster, we have a couple of cute young folk. The makers identified their target audience and also went a step further by making this in glorious color. Quatermass and X are in black and white. The Blob also has the now standard trope of having no one believe the teenagers (you know Steve McQueen, 28 and Aneta Corsaut, 25).

The opening tune sets the stage for The Blob. It is light, breezy and fun – co-written by Burt Bacharach. The whole tone of The Blob is fun. We then segue to the young couple watching shooting stars and wouldn’t you know it? One of the stars lands nearby.

Of course a large part of The Blob’s popularity comes from then unknown Steve McQueen (billed as Steven McQueen here). The Blob led to McQueen being cast in his star-making role in Wanted: Dead or Alive. McQueen is his charming, wise-cracking self here (with none of the toughness that would infuse his later performances).

Aneta Corsaut is the other half of our young couple but she doesn’t make nearly the impression that Steve does. She went directly from this into television. Her biggest role was as Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show.

The rest of the cast doesn’t matter much. All of the other characters are only in it for a few minutes. In a style that would later become de rigeur, most of the older adults refuse to take our heroes seriously and commit many mistakes. The other generation are just squares, daddy-o. They even throw in a teenage crowd-pleasing scene where they have to break into the school.

The effects are nicely handled and The Blob looks positively creepy. There is a nice combination of silicone (for the monster) and miniatures. The theater scene is especially fun. The movie playing is Daughter of Horror (aka Dementia) and yes that is Publishers Clearing House magnate Ed McMahon doing the voiceover. Unfortunately the effects do not hold up as well later in the film.

Repeat-itis: In the only movie he ever directed, actor Larry Hagman made a seldom seen sequel entitled Beware the Blob! (also known as Son of Blob – 1972). Beware the Blob! is pretty much a train wreck.

A gory (gorier?) remake of The Blob arrived in 1988. Kevin Dillon was no Steve McQueen but the remake is fun. Stephen King pays homage to the meteorite discovery scene in his segment of Creepshow.