13 September 2011

THE BLOB/1958/STEVE McQUEEN

THE BLOB

1958/ Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr./ Writers: Kay Linaker (writer), Irvine Millgate (story)

Cast: Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe, Olin Howland, Alden 'Stephen' Chase, John Benson, Lee Paton, Vincent Barbi

The Blob is a successful combining of the horror and teenage delinquent film genres. While the teens in the film are not really ‘delinquents” in my opinion they are still teenagers and therefore what they say and do is always suspect to the local adults. The film was a success for the time at the box office, which must have really irked new leading man “Steven” McQueen who opted for a one lump payment of $2,500 to $3,000 (depending where you read) rather than 10% of the profits, which went over $4 million. Also it seems the young McQueen appeared promising enough to be offered a three film contract from the film’s producers, but he was so difficult to work with he was released from the contract. He would of course go on to become a film legend in Hollywood. The movie was made outside Hollywood by an independent film company and it is nicely shot film and well acted.

First I want to say that this film, along with the Hammer film X-The Unknown, were two movies that terrorized me as a boy of about 12 or 13. Both movies are about an amorphous substance that is slimy and oozy and can slither, creep and crawl under things or get though ventilator grills easily. This posed a real problem for me at night trying to sleep and I remember covering the heating vents on my floor with encyclopedias to prevent entry, but knowing that if the Blob (or X) wanted in there was no way I was going to stop them.

The movie opens up with young Steven Andrews (McQueen) putting the moves on the classic “I’m not that kind of girl”  tease Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) up on the local lover’s lane. While Steven assures her his intentions are honorable and she in not just another girl a meteorite (The movie’s working title was The Meteorite Monster and The Molten Meteorite) crashes to earth over the nearby hills. An old man played by veteran actor Olin Howland , in his last role, finds the smoldering space rocks and stars poking at it with a stick and soon has his arm covered with a flesh consuming “blob”. Steven and Jane rush him into to town, to Doc Hallen, who in turn, along with his nurse, are consumed and soon the havoc in on. Of course Steven and his teenage friends must contend with the local adults and police who all think kids are up to no good (especially when the said high school student, like McQueen, is actually 28 years old!).


People begin disappearing though we really only see about four people get eaten, or adsorbed if you will. This is my one real complaint about the film. At one point Lt. Dave (Earl Rowe) estimates maybe forty people have died during the night. The movie would have been more exhilarating if we had seen some of these deaths. Luckily the acting, dialog, nicely photographed scenes and cool looking monster help things move along without the visible death scenes. After lots of futile attempts at convincing parents and cops the truth is revealed when the patrons of the local theater, who were there to see a horror movie of course, come screaming out onto the streets with the ever growing blob on their tails. Steven and Jane seek shelter in a diner after grabbing Jane’s doofy little brother who in one of the best scenes in the movies hurls his “empty” cap pistol at the creature. The blob surrounds the diner and seeks out the five people inside the diner while the rest of the town stands about fifty feet away and watches in horror. I never understood as a kid  why the blob did not just turn on the crowd and absorb all of them. Well, the weakness (all old movie monsters had one special weakness that the hero had to discover by the last ten or fifteen minutes of the movie) is soon discovered… C02 fire extinguishers. The blob is frozen and sent to the North Pole, never to be heard from again until Larry Hagman revived it in his more comical version Beware the Blob in 1972, with stoned hippies like Robert Walker, rather than hot rodding 28 year old teenagers, on the menu.

The movie is very well made and while it is a B-movie it is not what I would call a bad movie, either in a good sense or bad. The catchy title song was co-written by Burt Bacharach and was a hit song on the radio at the time. A link to a Blob site is given below and this is a true cult classic. A remake was made in with Kevin Dillon in 1988 where the Blob is the product of yet another secret government/military agency with nothing but security and profit on its always evil agenda. Well, I like the space Blob myself and all the mystery it brought with it. The film just looks rich and nice and one can see that McQueen is a real talent in his first film role. Not to be missed.

THE BLOB TITLE SONG

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