I try to do a melt movie every year. This one might be the most mainstream of ’em all.
Like John Carpenter’s The Thing, 1988’s version of The Blob is one of those rare remakes better than the original, which just goes to show screenwriter Frank Darabont had a genuine love for the monster movies he grew up watching (this, by the way, is one of the monster movies I grew up watching). It was obviously a stepping stone along the way to movies like The Mist, but I think this one’s far more unsettling and its use of miniature effects are marvelous in the truest sense of the word. The first one is okay once you’re done stripping away the cult following and the nostalgia, but this one’s throwaway scenes are far more memorable than anything the original had to offer.
When I complain about the pacing in movies like Society, it’s because there’s pacing as good as this. Small town horror films are almost always fun (for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on), but this one especially maintains the momentum. You’ve got the small town sheriff (Jeffrey DeMunn), the small town diner, the small town movie theater, the small town bad boy (Kevin Dillon), and the small town cheerleader (Shawnee Smith).
The cheerleader isn’t an airhead or a damsel in distress, either. She genuinely and quite naturally kicks ass, which is always fun to see in older movies when it wasn’t about making a political statement. Although I’m a sucker for Hollywood romances, it’s interesting that there isn’t really a spark between the male and the female leads. They grow to respect each other, but it’s remarkably platonic for the era.
One day a UFO crashes in the woods and a bum pokes the wreckage with a stick. The gelatinous contents of the downed vessel climb the stick and adheres itself to the bum’s hand. The main characters happen upon the man on a nearby road and rush him to the hospital. When no one’s looking, the acidic blob feasts on its victim and grows several times larger. From there, it begins a feeding frenzy which culminates in the mysterious arrival of G-men in hazmat suits, led by Joe Seneca.
What’s great about this version of the blob is it’s not just an oozing mass. Nowadays it forms tentacles and tendrils, which makes the horror moments really stick out. You’ll see some absolutely terrifying stuff I wouldn’t even dream of spoiling. I don’t know why, but non-Newtonian substances really creep me out, and what director Chuck Russell concocts with some of his confined sets is the stuff of nightmares. The resolution is a cheat, but everything leading up to it is chock full of the reasons I watch horror movies.