Thursday, October 13, 2016

31 Days of Horror- Day 13: The Blob (1988)

(dir. Chuck Russell)

Paramount Pictures
The inhabitants of a small-town are attacked by a strange organism that eats everything in its path.

The Blob holds a special place for me. It was the first R-rated movie I ever saw, and introduced me the larger realm of horror (it also happened to be how I learned about condoms, thanks to that drugstore scene.) There are parts of The Blob that make the film feel like a satire of high-school movies of its time. All the familiar tropes are there: the stable of teenage stereotypes, the buffoonish cops, and small-town, conservative morals. Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith make for likeable leads, because they don’t play their characters with an awareness of their own archetypal trappings. The Blob manages slight satire without feeling like its winking or nudging its audience, and the result is a film that feels sincere, when it easily could have come across as mean-spirited mockery in lesser hands. Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont offset the familiar by killing off the characters you’d expect to live through any other film, and by upping the threat level of the titular creature and the humor that stems from the traditional archetypes. Despite the absurdism at play in the film, The Blob is smartly crafted. It takes the original film’s themes about the fear of outsiders and flips the script to make it a film about our fear of our neighbors, institutions, and the very things we think will protect us from harm.

The Blob is a master-class example of practical effects works, featuring some of the most inventive and memorable death scenes of its era. The depiction of The Blob and its growth through consumption clearly had an influence on James Gunn’s Slither and this film can be seen as its forbearer in both its affinity for gross-out gore and small-town allegiances. While so many remakes either stick too close to the original or try too hard to completely out-do the original, The Blob keeps things simple and effective by establishing its rules and themes clearly from the beginning which surely accounts for the film's legacy and influence. The Blob is a gem of a film that's just as thrilling for me to watch now as it was sixteen years ago, because The Blob sticks to you rather effortlessly.

Scare Factor: 1/5 The Blob is just a blast to watch; old-fashioned horror with some of the best effects and gore you can find in horror’s diverse history. It won’t keep you from sleeping, but it’s a crowd pleaser for sure, and a great introduction to horror for younger viewers. 

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