The Blob

The Blob (1988)

By Johnny Apocalypse
May 1, 2005

  What can be said about a film boasting the presence of Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith (Saw, TV’s Becker) and a broken motorcycle?  Not much.  Both humans are decent enough actors and the motorcycle looks cool, but they’re not A-list material and I doubt we’ll ever see their names on an Academy Award. But when you toss in an incredibly talented actor like The Blob, you get one of the finest portrayals of a Hollywood monster ever seen.

Most people believe that several movie execs just up and decided to remake the Steve McQueen classic of the same name, but it was a much longer path then that simple decision. The film began as a romance movie called Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith and a Broken Motorcycle, but when The Blob was invited to audition for the part of the town’s mayor, the producers had a change of heart. The conversation went like this:

Producer Bill: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Producer Frank: Um, what’s that?

Producer Bill: We should scrap this movie and remake that old horror film.

Producer Frank: Which one?  Frankenstein?

Producer Bill: No, the one with that blob thingy.

Producer Frank: Dracula?

Producer Bill: Yeah, that’s the one!

Script Editor Al: Uh, hey guys, why don’t you do a remake of The Blob instead?

Producers Bill and Frank: You’re fired.

Due to mislabeled labeled tapes at Blockbuster Video, Bill and Frank inadvertently rented The Blob and realized that this would indeed be a better choice for a remake. They sent Script Editor Al a cheap thank-you card.

After finally deciding which film to remake, the producers ran into casting setbacks.  Initially The Blob was slotted to play a young motorcycle punk with Shawnee Smith as his love interest and Kevin Dillon in the title role.  After discovering that Dillon wasn’t particularly adept at devouring people and changing his size at will, Shawnee was given a chance at the role.  While she was an old hand at dissolving people into splotches of bloody muck, she couldn’t change size at the rate required for speedy filming.  Finally, The Blob was given the role of proper character.

While Mr. Blob hasn’t had much screen time, he is truly a veteran master of acting.  He began his acting career in 1954, playing a murderous amoeba in Monster from the Ocean Floor. Once producers recognized his talent, Blob played himself in the 1958 classic and returned to the screen in Son of the Blob (playing a younger version of himself). When plans for a third in the series were scrapped (titled Granddaughter of the Blob’s Brother Fred), Mr. Blob turned to the legitimate theatre. Noted for his award winning performances in King Lear and Tommy, his wider appearances were limited to guest spots on My Mother the Car, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Dynasty. Finally, he was contracted to portray himself next to Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith and a broken motorcycle.

In preparation for his role, The Blob began exercising, running six miles a day and eating his Wheaties. The end result is a Blob we’ve never seen the likes of before - he oozed about at twice the speed, could propel long, gelatinous tentacles to snare his pray from a distance, and in a classic improvised scene, could yank an unsuspecting dishwasher down a sink.

But enough of this nonsense. Let’s review the movie.

It all starts with Kevin Dillon fixing his motorcycle after a failed stunt.  He's tried to jump a broken bridge, waffled it and dumped the bike. Meanwhile, other teens are trying to get their horizontal swerve on in the woods.  Seeing as this is a horror movie, and horny teenagers can’t possibly be left alive, in comes a mysterious comet from space, crashing nearby.  Two teens interrupt their neckin’ to go check it out, but are beaten to the scene by a creepy homeless guy.

Being a typical human being (that is, curious and none-too-bright), creepy bum man decides to start poking the meteor with a stick.  He gets a smear of what appears to be pink jelly on said stick and tries to spread it on a peanut butter sandwich.  When his hand gets too close to the jelly, it snares onto him and starts slowly digesting the misfortunate metacarpus.  Realizing this is the perfect opportunity to get that pirate hook he’s always wanted, creepy bum man tries to take a hatchet to his own wrist.  Before he can complete the amputation, Shawnee Smith and some hapless teen show up to take him to the hospital.  Shortly after reaching the hospital, the hapless teen is eaten by the Blob.

What follows is a combination of conspiracy theory, spoofs of ‘50’s horror flicks and gore galore.  And I mean galore.  We see people of all shapes and sizes, from ages ten to fifty, getting visibly eaten by monster Jell-o.  It takes some seriously deranged people to decide that a partially digested ten-year-old boy makes for good movie watching, but by God they were right.  Need a cure for depression?  Rent this movie and re-watch that scene over and over until the tape breaks.  For an extra-strength cure, pretend it’s your own child being dissolved.

The best human performance is given by Joe Seneca in the form of Dr. Meddows, a doctor from the U.S. Government who wants to stop the plague from spreading throughout the town.  Or does he?  Going from nice and caring to “heartless bastard” in a matter of seconds, the government’s ulterior motive is exposed as Meddows reveals that he had a hand in creating the Blob.

As it turns out, the men who collect our taxes developed the blob in space for use as biological warfare.  What they didn’t expect was a creepy bum to come stumbling around and open the super-sophisticated meteor/spaceship with a stick.  While this subplot is contrived and unnecessary to say the least, it’s exactly this sort of cheese that makes this movie a winner instead of something that grosses top dollar at the theatre.

As a bonus, this is one of the better-directed horror films of the ‘80s.  Charles Russell (who did The Mask and Eraser) is no Frank Capra, but he brings enough style to the screen to give this movie an extra dash of eye candy.  Compared to another 80’s horror flick, say Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the directing here is certainly a few steps closer to Hollywood gold (although I see nothing to complain of with Halloween III’s directing).

If you’ve seen the original The Blob, I’m not spoiling much when I say they defeat the goo-monster in basically the same way.  Since the dawn of filmmaking, there have only been two ways to kill a vampire, and there’s apparently only one way to defeat The Blob, so nothing original there.  Plus, the last two minutes of the movie gives you the necessary setup for a sequel that’ll never be made.

After this, Mr. Blob fully retired from acting, making only the odd appearance in RonCo infomercials.  Kevin Dillon became a star on Entourage, where his acting talent finally has a chance to shine (still no Oscar winner, but pretty damn good).  Shawnee Smith bounced around from project to project until finally getting some notice in the Saw horror series.

Sadly, the broken motorcycle was sold for scrap and is currently starring in a junkyard.

What do you think America? Leave your comments on the Guestbook!

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