Monday, May 14, 2018

The Blob

The Blob(1958)
Directed by
Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
Written by Theodore Simonson, Kay Linaker, from an idea from Irvine H. Millgate
Starring Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe, Olin Howland
IMDB Entry

It started with a pantheon. When I was growing up, there was one of great movie monsters.  Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, and the Mummy were the big ones, but there was also the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Some would also add Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan. And, of course, the Blob. But while most of these (except for the Creature) was easy to find, the Blob didn’t show itself on TV in those days.*

The story starts out with Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut), two teenagers** driving out to see the stars*** when the see a meteor land nearby. While they drive to investigate, an old man (Olin Howland) who lives alone in a cabin, do so on his own. He finds a meteorite**** that cracks open like an egg, revealing a gelatinous substance.  The old man picks it up on a stick, but it jumps and then lands on his hand, causing him intense pain.  He runs to the road and is picked up by Steve and Jane, who take him to Dr. Hallen. The substance is growing and eventually absorbs the old man, and later Dr. Hallen. Meanwhile, Steve and Jane have to try to convince the police that there’s an alien threat, but, skeptical to begin with, they refuse to believe it, especially since the monster absorbs its victims, leaving no trace.

The Blob attacks!

To be honest, the movie is a bit dull.  The pacing is slow, and there are too many scenes of Steve trying to convince the police there’s a problem, made worse by one cop who thinks it’s just a prank.  The low budget also doesn’t help. While the monster is credible and not badly done at first, the climax clearly didn’t have the money for a final battle scene, so you just see the people fighting it with no shots of the blob reacting. Later, Steve and the chief cop comment on how the monster is no longer a threat without us seeing it.

But the concept of the blob is a powerful one – an original idea for a space vampire – and is what made the movie a success. 

McQueen is impressive. He has all the earmarks of a star turn, and this got him the job in the TV show Wanted Dead or Alive that started his career. His cool screen persona is already full fledge.  He was billed as “Steven McQueen”; possibly the name of his character was one reason he started calling himself “Steve.”

Most of the rest of the cast remained unknown, though Aneta Corsaut was a regular on The Andy Griffith Show and did a lot of guest starring work.

The movie is one of the better examples of the drive-in teen horror films of the 50s, and was extremely successful.*****


* Probably because it took until I was well past my teenage years for it to have a sequel. Most of the big-name monsters had sequels galore, but it took 14 years for a Blob sequel, and that was pretty bad. The same problem affected the Creature from the Black Lagoon, with only three movies available.

**McQueen was 28 at the time, so thinking of him as a teen requires some suspension of disbelief.

***So they say. Of course, this was the 50s, so nothing dirty was going on.

****My wife pointed out that it looks like the Satellite of Love from MST3K.  Hmmm.

*****McQueen was given a choice of being paid $2500 or 10% of the gross. He took the $2500, but since the film made millions, he lost out badly.

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