Remaking The Blob (1958) must have sounded like an unbeatable idea in 1988. Take an original monster movie beloved by baby boomers (but which hasn’t aged particularly well), put more effort into the special effects than just cramming some runny silicone into a model of a movie theatre, and presto: a cure for the tedious slasher films that were on the way out at the time. Brilliant remakes of The Thing (1982) and The Fly (1986) proved that such projects could eclipse the original films in terms of popularity, craftsmanship and critical acclaim. Plus, there’s the whole 30th anniversary thing. This project can’t miss!
The Blob (1988) turned out pretty darn good; just not The Thing or The Fly-level good. It’s a fast-paced, enjoyable monster film that improves on the original Blob in every category except theme song. (Go to YouTube. Listen to the original Blob theme song. Laugh. Listen to it again.) It even had a particularly chilling final shot that set up a sequel more skilfully than pretty much any other horror movie. Don’t keep waiting for that sequel, though, because this flick made $8 million at the box office. That would have been fine for the 1958 original, but the remake spent $9 million on the special effects alone.
As a teenager, The Blob remake scared the hell out of me. Not the film itself; I’m talking about the poster with the image of the victim dissolving in the centre of a gloppy, purple mass. (And brother, that poster was everywhere.) I watched the film years later, and found it well-made and thrilling. Watching it again today, I was delighted to find that it still holds up.
Having an amorphous mass of goo slowly ooze after you was frightening enough. The blob from the remake is fast, strong and crafty. It’ll jump out at you from places you don‘t expect; the ceiling, a kitchen sink, Erika Eleniak’s bra; you name it. This thing is ferocious! It’ll kill you, and then show your dissolving corpse to your girlfriend, just to rub it in. And just like before, it can fit in any hiding place, and you can’t even hear it approach. Eep!
Another improvement is the careful application of the “anyone can die at any time” trope, which was unthinkable in the era of the original. We see the blob attack and kill nice people, including the heroine’s boyfriend, who we assumed was going to be the protagonist. The heroine herself gets to rescue the rest of the cast, while blazing away at the purple thing with an assault rifle. Now that’s what we’re here to see!
On the other hand, I’m not sure I believe this movie when it tells me that blowing up some liquid nitrogen canisters with a bomb will turn a three-block area into a winter wonderland, complete with gently falling snow. Mind you, I haven’t tried doing that, so what do I know? Better get the MythBusters to look into this one….