The Blob (1958)
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.
Cast: Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe
Plot: An alien lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.
Genre: Horror / Sci-Fi
Rating: PG for some disturbing images.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“Doctor, nothing will stop it!”
My word, this movie is appalling. Perhaps it was terrifying and groundbreaking at that time, which was more than half a century ago, but The Blob ought to be consigned to the bin that says D-movies. I caught this to do a class assignment for a science-fiction film module that I am currently taking.
And I made the effort to catch it on its Criterion Collection DVD release no less. I must admit I felt like stopping the movie about a third into it, but I needed to complete my class assignment. So I persevered... and suffered. My advice for you is to leave the movie alone.
The Blob is considered one of the lesser known American sci-fi films to be released in the 1950s. It is somewhat of a B-movie cult classic, more comfortable to be mentioned in the same breath as movies like Tarantula (1955) and Attack of the 50ft. Woman (1958), rather than true classics like The War of the Worlds (1953) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).
It is actually an independent production, free from studio control, and quite technically proficient in that respect. Still, it is extremely weak when it comes to engaging viewers, opting for a host of cinematic clichés, accompanied by truly stagnant moments that dullen the picture.
This is an unconventional 'alien invasion' movie in that you won't be putting a face to the invaders, or in this case, an invader that looks like a red gooey jelly. The movie's marketers call it the blob. It is red because of the blood of its victims, who are completely dissolved, and who add considerable bulk to the formless shape of the blob.
The blob gets bigger and bigger, posing a genuine threat to a small town. In this small town lies a young, charismatic Steve McQueen in one of his early screen roles before his breakthrough in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963).
McQueen plays the main protagonist who takes matters into his own hands in this predictable romp. The lazy screenwriting will bore you to death, especially in scenes where characters articulate what they should or should not do. Ah-huh, ah-huh, but can we get to the action please?
We never get to identify with the motivations and inner feelings of the characters. Instead, we are presented with one-dimensional persons who don't make it worthwhile to watch them. The special effects, most of them accomplished through the use of scaled-down models, are curiously uninteresting, though they are the best parts of the movie.
The Blob, in spite of its genre, fails to be suspenseful, let alone terrifying. I know standards may have changed, and that it is unfair to view the film via a contemporary lens, but this very same lens has allowed films like The War of the Worlds and some others to age better than its more cheekily-titled colleagues. So who should we place the blame on? The lens or the film?
GRADE: F (4/10 or 1.5 stars)
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