BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE BLOB (1958) / DIRECTOR: IRWIN S. YEAWORTH JR. / SCREENPLAY: KAY LINAKER, THEODORE SIMONSON / STARRING: STEVE MCQUEEN, ANETA CORSAUT, EARL ROWE, OLIN HOWLAND, STEPHEN CHASE, JAMES BONNET / RELEASED: APRIL 20TH
By the mid-‘50s the Cold War had intensified to such an extent that America had become obsessed with communism and its perceived threat to their internal security. Such fears led to McCarthyism and that, in turn, led to inward-looking concerns that perhaps this was itself an even greater threat to the American way. It’s not entirely coincidental that sci-fi movies were enjoying something of a golden age at this time and it was inevitable that they addressed these issues. So it was that... Oh wait.
Sorry, we’re not reviewing Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) are we? We’re doing The Blob. Yeah right, it’s red and it’s taking over small town America so it must be about communism. Except that, no matter how many books anyone would like to write on the subject, it clearly isn’t. It’s a low-budget B-movie (that managed to come in under budget) with an icky-monster, teenagers, nice cars and a camp theme song. This is the quintessential drive-in flick and any resemblance to a “red menace” is purely coincidental (and at least one of the production team has said as much).
A young couple (McQueen and Corsaut) are doing whatever young couples did in their cars back then when they see a meteorite crash. Investigating, they find an old man (Howland) with something nasty stuck to his hand. It gets bigger and then old man disappears. As does the nurse who was treating him and then the doctor and then a car mechanic, etc, etc. All the while the “mass” (as they call it) gets bigger and bigger. Oh, you get the idea. This is pretty basic ‘50s B-movie stuff. As it can’t be shot (‘cause it’s like jelly, man) and fire, electricity and trichloroacetic acid (which we think you use on genital warts) all fail to have an effect, how will they destroy it? Well, we won’t tell you but it’s pretty cool .
Ultimately, The Blob is just great fun; it manages to be sort-of-horrifying while bringing a smile to your face at the same time. The cast are all a bit ropey but Steve McQueen (who at 27 looked nothing like the teenager he was supposed to be portraying – the scenes with his “dad” are a hoot) saves the day with his natural onscreen charisma. You can tell he was going to be a star. Unusually, The Blob is in colour and if we’ve got a very minor criticism, Blu-ray doesn’t do the otherwise-adequate special effects any favours. It really is obvious that’s a drawing of the diner with a Blob on it at the climax.
If you have the slightest affection for ‘50s sci-fi then you really need this one and, if you don’t, it might just get you hooked. Then you can watch all the proper allegorical-hardcore-stuff. Go on, you know you want to.
Incidentally, if you like The Blob, you probably need to read ICE (available here).
Extras: Trailer, stills gallery