Wednesday, April 9, 2014

1950s Class: The Blob (1958)

Who am I to disagree with History?  Today's film is The Blob, the 1958 Version that is.  Sci-Fi Fans know it and love it.  People that barely tolerate Star Wars know it and love it.  It is a Classic.  The DVD Version (yes, there is a Blu-Ray, but I can't get Caps from them yet) is from the Criterion Collection.  The last one I watched from them was Repo Man- weird, right?  Do I need to say what this film is about?  Well, if you somehow don't know, the Film is about a bit of alien goo that arrives on Earth and causes havoc.  It's nothing special on the surface.  The parts of what makes the film so special are a bit more complicated.  Some of them are intentional, while others just sort of worked out that way.  Obviously the biggest thing is its Star: Steve McQueen.  He certainly became the biggest Star out of this whole Film.  The question on your mind (if you still haven't seen this Film) is this: is the movie really a Classic or just so famous that it is one by default?  To find out the gooey truth, read on...
A Meteor crashes into the Earth and a homeless man stumbles across the debris.  Some pink goo gets on his hand.  He runs across our hero (McQueen) and his girlfriend.  It can't be that bad, can it?
On second thought, you may want to get that looked at.
The problem is that the 'teens' like McQueen don't get along with the small town Authorities- especially the Sheriff and his Deputy.  They just don't 'get' these young 28 year-old teenagers.

Therein lies the biggest appeal of the film: a look at the youth of the 1950s starting to rebel against the hierarchy (see Rebel Without A Cause).  While not alone in this look, it does foreshadow the counter-culture movement to come in the 1960s.
Oh and there is a freaky reddish-pink Blob eating people.  Interestingly, it does NONE of this on-camera.
Naturally, the Adults don't see the creature and doubt the whole story.   You'll'll learn.
With no help, they take matters into their own hands.  They draw the town's attention, since they must face it together.  Speaking of which...
The titular Blob attacks a Movie Theater, which I'm sure was not made as a bonus Gimmick for those actually seeing this in Theaters.

As far as Gimmicks go, 1953's The Tingler is still far sillier (and Meta).
The Blob gets a bit more aggressive and grows much bigger.  Not the Diner!  Where will I get a Malt and a Cheeseburger now?!?
The Blob meets his/its ultimate weakness: cold air (and CO2).  Can you imagine if Godzilla went down like this?

The frozen remains are shipped to Antarctica, where it stays forever...until Beware! The Blob anyways.  The End.
I can't complain really.  Is The Blob a Classic?  Of course.  Does it deserve to be?  Yes.  It is not the most complex Film ever made, but it does what it aims to do.  On the surface, it is your basic tale of an alien invader/monster disrupting life in a small Town.  What makes it feel special is just how genuine the whole thing feels- all thing considered.  The fairly-subtle conflict between the Youths and the Elders feels real.  Alot of times you see this kind of thing and it just feels forced.  While the Teens are actually in their 20s, they do their best to make me believe this.  Another thing that works in the film's favor is how selectively you see the creature.  Given technological limitations of the day- pretty much just trick photography, models and rear projection-, it was a wise choice.  Implied Scenes like the Nurse being devoured/absorbed by The Blob would probably look pretty bad.  What they did then was not show it to you, allowing you to make your own Special Effects.  The key is to give the Viewer enough of a visual to make them not feel cheated.  I'm looking at you 1981's Scream and 2009's Agyaat: The Unknown!  The bottom line: the film holds up, even 50+ years later.  If you want to see a more gory and violent version of the tale, just you wait.  Take us away, sad example of Sales Inflation...
Next up, a look at the 1980s Remake.  It has more blood, more guts and...the chick from Saw?!?  Stay tuned...

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