The Blob (1958)
By: Michael Helms on April 7, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
MRA (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English 2.0. 82 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth
Starring:Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsault, Earl Rowe, Olin Howlin, Stephen Chase, John Benson
Screenplay: Kate Phillips & Theodore Simonson
Tagline: It Crawls...It Creeps...It Eats You Alive!
Country: USA
As ancient teenagers played by Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut lock jaws and exchange enzymes at the local make-out spot a meteorite crashlands nearby. When the first man on the scene pokes a stick at the basketball-size rock it hatches and a clear ooze emerges from its centre and attaches itself to his hand. Steve describes it as, "Kind of like a big blister", when they discover him wandering on the road and deliver him to the local doctor. Quickly the goo expands to cover other body parts and before you can say, "Wanna drag race?," it has rolled around many parts of the little town of Downington.

While the first brief shots of the Blob in the doctors office are the most horrifying the film quickly gives way to a mannered set up of mass panic. The limited sightings of the Blob throughout then remain exciting until the all too quick and easy finale involving stock footage and that famous fifties end title punctuated by a question mark, which comes as something of a letdown. Highlights include the Blob seeping underneath a coldroom door, the entrance of the Blob into a packed movie theatre showing Daughter Of Horror (a film MRA should definitely acquire) and hipster dialogue like, "Hey, what gives? I didn't think you cats dig spooky shows?."

Violence is kept to a minimum but director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. does manage to imbue the whole thing with a palpable tension that doesn't rely on sound cues or monster shots. As a precursor to modern horror you'd be hard-pressed to find something of the same vintage of The Blob that puts it all together in the same package. Recommended for being more than just a curio.
Video
The re-mastering of The Blob is almost too good for itself highlighting a drab production design (admittedly most of the action does occur at night), the use of stock footage and expectedly where the filmmakers have used stop animation to bring it to life. Still, eminently viewable and one of the best looking films from the fifties to be released on DVD yet in any genre.
Audio
Fine 2.0 Dolby soundtrack converted from mono that was state of the art in 1958 and which still sounds great today. The only difference between now and then besides the lack of a surround mix is the downplaying of sound effects which definitely enhanced the 1988 remake.
Extra Features
Two commentaries, a trailer and a stills gallery that includes poster and ad art. Legendary producer Jack H. Harris who would kick on to work with Ted V. Mikels (Astro Zombies) provides some great anecdotes that are punctuated and/or modified/supported/enhanced by BLOB fan/historian Bruce Eder who was a teenager during it's initial release and obviously wasn't in the same room as Harris while recording his commentary. On a separate audio track director Irvin S. Yeaworth sits down to his second viewing of the film in 40 years and despite the lack of a cough button also delivers some interesting commentary that illustrates how a Hollywood major (Paramount) can impose themselves on an indie product. Yeaworth is still disappointed by having to have Burt Bacharach's super catchy theme song attached to the film. Besides a trailer there's nearly six dozen behind the scenes stills mainly in black and white with a few colour shots of the glorious gelatineous title monster. The most extras packed release yet from MRA.
The Verdict
Fast approaching it's 50th anniversary The Blob may only retain the power to frighten the very young but it laid down a template that's still viable and I'm not just talking about late twentysomethings playing teenagers but it's complete horror/sci fi concept. While advances in special effects might have driven the modern remake (forget about the two largely comical sequels) the influence of The Blob and it's ability to create tension in both rural and urban locations and its more than glancing use of pop culture make it a must-see item.
Movie Score
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