Director – Chuck Russell
Cast – Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch Jr., Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark, Joe Seneca, Del Close, Paul McCrane, Sharon Spelmon, Beau Billingslea, Art LaFleur, Ricky Paull Goldin, Bill Moseley
Release Year – 1988
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The 1953 classic version of The Blob, which starred Steve McQueen, is one of the genre’s most iconic, and most profitable films. We look at the 80s with a glimmer in our eye for a number of reasons. For me, these reasons are practical effects, the grainy look, and one of the most underlooked accomplishments of 1980s horror: good remakes. In this day and age genre fans are constantly bickering about the terrible remakes of classic films. That was not the case in 1988. This 80s version made the necessary moves to please horror fans and also made changes to make the film applicable to the societal norms and problems of the 1980s. The Blob isn’t just one of the best horror remakes of all time, but one of the most enjoyable 80s horror films there is.
The sleepy town of Arborville, California finds themselves under siege when a meteor lands and unleashes a jelly-like alien that grows as it feeds.
Director Chuck Russell co-wrote the film with Frank Darabont (The Mist) and they together created one of the most entertaining horror remakes I have seen. As you can tell from the plot summary, the story begins just like the original. The meteor does not land until 12 minutes into the experience, and four minutes later we have our first Blob attack. After this, the story moves at a brisk pace and the kills hardly relent. I applaud Darabont and Russell for writing incredible kills that make for some of the most gruesome I have ever seen. On top of this, the kills were “mean” too. Character-wise nobody is safe. There are those that you assume will play heavy roles in the film, but instead they are devoured by the blob in horrendous fashion. Man, woman, child – nobody is safe, and we witness the deaths of 31 individuals in this 95 minute effort. Without including the credits, that is one kill every 2.9 minutes. Allow me to reiterate – the kills are non-stop.
This story is more than just a giant alien mass growing insidiously as more and more humans are devoured. The characters are fun, colorful, and if they don’t add to the conflict then they at least serve a role as food for the alien. I really liked that the story was adapted to appeal to society at the time, giving us elements that were relevant to the 1980s. For instance, in the original 1953 film the alien’s origin is from an unknown area of outer space. Some say that the red Blob is symbolic of the country’s fear over Communism. In this effort, the origin of the creature is man-made, and we learn that it is the result of biological warfare stemming from the cold war – a nod to the days of Reagan and the Soviets.
Chuck Russell’s direction deserves much credit for how awesome this film is. He excels mostly at what matters most: the kills. Of the film’s $19 million budget, $9 million went towards special effects, and the results are amazing. He employs live-action effects on nearly all of the kills, and as I mentioned earlier…the kills were gruesome. We watch as people are devoured by the Blob and suffer agonizing pain as their bodies are melted into the creature. It was incredible to see the creature move about the city and snatch people from ceilings, sewers, and city streets as it grew in size. There are other solid elements to Russell’s direction, like acting and atmosphere, but nothing tops the thrills he created in this mammoth remake.
Overall, this remake of The Blob is not just one of the best remakes ever, but one of the best creature films of all time. The kills and endless and they come delivered in gruesome fashion thanks to an emphasis on using the best live-action effects. If you enjoy creature flicks, 80s films, or the original, then you have to watch this.