Monday, October 20, 2014

The Blob

  I was thoroughly surprised I had not seen this before. Right off the bat it combines some of my favorite things of all time. The 80's, horror, science fiction, practical effects, and the R rating.  Oh boy. Not only is this movie better than I thought it would be, I think it's a prime example of how amazing remakes can be. This holds up right next to John Carpenter's The Thing. In fact, they'd make a fantastic double feature. It's worth noting that this movie would not have the same impact made nowadays. The blob itself would more likely than not be made using CGI. Part of what makes this movie amazing is the practical effects. Each one looking painfully realistic in a way that CGI has yet to capture entirely. The Blob is a good movie, with a smart script and even some timely humor- but it's special effects are the real attraction here.

  Of course all the special effects in the world are moot if you can't care about the characters. The characters in The Blob may be basic archetypes, but the actors playing them infuse a lot of personality and authenticity into the roles. They're residents of a Norman Rockwell-esque town where the football players date the cheerleaders, the kids sneak out to horror movies, and the town rebel is always in trouble with the sheriff. It's endearing, and I think that goes a long way towards making these characters effective. We can't help but care about them. On the same train of thought, something I think this movie does well is toy with your expectations of who's going to live or die. Surely he'll live. He's an important character. Oh. Well. Not anymore I guess. You really can't predict who's gonna buy it, when, or how. The gooey slime blob is the only common denominator. Each death scene is unique and extremely cool. I can't stress that enough.

  The effects are amazingly impressive. Normally I can not only spot 80's special effects, I can tell you exactly how they were made at little more than a glance. I've seen way too many 'making of's'. Yet the effects in The Blob are just mindblowingly good. They're extremely gross and gory and it's wonderful. The blob itself is a true antagonist here. It feels like the slasher in a slasher movie, but amazingly it has far more personality and the sense of danger is much higher. Due in no small part to the movie's explanation of it's origins. Yes, it is from outer space, but the twist is... mankind put it in outer space. It's a man-made biological weapon that they've decided to unleash on this small town for a test run. Even without this plot, it would've been a scary enough movie, but the notion that our own government is behind it, is just downright terrifying. Not to mention probably more relevant than even in the current social climate reacting to things like drone strikes and privacy acts.

  The story is effective and haunting in that regard. A malicious space entity is bad enough, but one that was intentionally set on innocent people by their own government? That's the true horror here. Scary as hell too. It's a warm and fuzzy concept that in times of trouble we can turn to and rely on our own government to help us, as a people, as an individual. Even though a movie like this is just a fluffy piece of sci-fi/horror matinee it's the idea that a concept like that is dangerous. Under the light of a movie like The Blob, it's shown that the government very easily views its citizens like lab rats. The idea is so scary because it's probably very true. Maybe not every facet of our government, but when they show up in unmarked vans and carrying automatic weapons... you know you're screwed. Who can you turn to for help? The answer, or the lack thereof is truly disturbing.

  So despite being a fairly basic horror movie, in concept at least, it's still pretty thought provoking. There is still a hero, a damsel in distress, a bad guy, and the general theme of having to save the town, so it's not exactly high-concept stuff here, but it works on just about every level. I gotta fault them for one thing though... when the military rolls in to try and contain the blob, they're hellbent on killing it with fire and explosives. This doesn't work. At all. The protagonist discovers however that it's the cold it can't stand. It's fatal to the blob. Why did the military scientists not know this? They created the damn thing. You mean to tell me they had no idea how to stop it? One scientists points out that at the rate it's growing, it could over take the entire country in a week. The chief scientist assures him that they know what they're doing. Yeah right! Bullshit! In my opinion, that was pretty lazy writing. Especially from a script that otherwise is pretty smart.

  Nevertheless, as the blob it oozes it's way under every door, and into every vent, the suspense builds and builds, and so does the body count in. It's infectious fun. There's no denying that. When all is said and done, you can't go wrong with this movie. From the pacing to the music and the casting... it's all great. I had a few nits to pick, but it's hardly worth the effort when the movie itself is so good. I'd love to own it, I can easily see it becoming a favorite. Which is saying something because I'm not easy when it comes to letting new movies onto my favorites' list. The Blob might be a serious contender for a spot though. With it's smashingly cool special effects to it's irresistibly likeable cast, it's hard not to fall in love with this gory 80's slimefest. One can only imagine what the Ghostbusters would've done, confronted with this pink slime. I don't think playing Jackie Wilson would've worked this time.

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