Thursday, October 11, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 11 -- Johnny Drama, Alien Hunter: A Review of "The Blob"

If you saw my list of 10 horror movie remakes that justify their own existence, then you know that I only included the 1988 remake of The Blob with the caveat that I hadn't seen it in a couple of decades.  And so, much like with Waxwork, I decided to revisit the film to see how it held up. The answer is it's a bit of a mixed bag.

To start with, the dialogue and plot are often ham-handed; it's bad enough when it's just focused on the local yokels, but once it gets to the eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil government scientist making his eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil speech about the expendability of said yokels it was really hard for me to curtail my eye rolling. On the other hand, the movie shows a great willingness to kill off characters that you might not expect, including a fake-out protagonist and a little kid, which helps to keep the viewer off-balance. 

The true strength of the film is the same thing that has made it stick in my mind for all these years:  the creature effects.  Where the original Blob was just a slowly shambling mound of goo, the 80s version is much more predatory and adaptive, shooting out tendrils, climbing ceilings, crushing evil government men with gross looking pseudopods -- this is a Blob that can't be avoided by a brisk walk away.  And not only is it more active, it's also much creepier, from its organic, veined appearance to the multiple examples of partially digested victims being viewed through the creature's translucent skin.  While the sub-par green screen moments do feel a little Z-grade, the bulk of the practical effects are inventive and well-done.

As a bonus, watching the film nearly 25 years after it was made allows for a lot of "Hey, isn't that . . .?" moments.  There's just something incredibly fun for me about watching 80s-rocker-haired Johnny Drama getting into an argument with mustachioed-and-still-mostly-fully-haired-Deputy "Rocket" Romano, while Sheriff Dale-from-Walking-Dead tries to referee. 

Although The Blob may suffer from clunky dialogue and a "did we really need that?" conspiracy plot, the creepiness and horror of the creature itself validates my initial assessment that the remake justified its own existence.

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