Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#DoubleFeature - The Blob/Son of Blob

One of the most famous B-movies of all time, The Blob popularized "creature features" which would be popularized by late night TV programming during the 1950s until the mid-1980s.

One thing the film had going for it was that it was such a fun monster movie, with plenty of thrills and that it was in color! That sure helped the film play quite often on TV.

These creature features would mostly rise during the Cold War era, usually revolving around alien invasions and science-fiction monsters.

The Blob combined all that perfectly. Soon a lot more would follow, such as Them!, The Thing from Another World, It Came from Outer Space, The War of the Worlds and many more!

The Blob would quickly grow into a cult icon! The film became a staple of the genre, often imitated, parodied, but rarely equaled.

The Blob is also one of the many 1950s science-fiction films to receive a remake in the 80s. But unlike most of those, the 1988 remake directed by Chuck Russell was a great reimagining. It was a much more darker gory version, one of the rare few good remakes out there (considered part of the only good trilogy of remakes out there by genre fans, alongside The Fly and The Thing).

A modern remake has also been stuck in development hell for ages, with several famous horror directors attached to it  - including Rob Zombie - trying to get this new Blob up and running with no success....

Movie: The Blob also known as The Molten Meteor
Directed by Irvin Yeaworth
Release date September 1958
Genre Science-fiction/horror indie B-movie
Country USA

The original 1958 Blob is actually an independent film. And it's one of the rare instances of one of those in colors

The film was directed by Irvin Yeaworth. This horror/science-fiction was produced by Jack H. Harris, who is credited with coming up with the original idea for the film. The film was originally released as a double feature with Gene Fowler Jr.'s black and white film I Married a Monster from Outer Space.

The plot is actually quite simple enough. The story takes place in the small town of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. These teenagers witness a meteor crash. What comes out of it is a sort of alien blob from outer space that lands on Earth and starts eating organic matter, and growing and growing in size! An old man finds this blob first. When they find him the creature has already attached to his hand. They take him to the doctor. As the doctor's about to amputate his arm, the blob finally dissolves the entire old man, then the nurse and finally the doctor!

The kids go to the police station, but nobody takes their situation seriously. They think it's just a prank, the police chief do hear them out and consider the possibility it's true, though (in a surprisingly twist compared to modern horror films nowadays). They can't find any proof. They try to call everyone around town. Our main characters hide inside a giant freezer which seems to calm off the blob. Nobody believes them... until they see a lot of people running out from a movie theater in what is easily one of the genre's most iconic scenes! 

At the end of the film they get stuck inside a small dinner in a last attempt to destroy the blob! The movie ends with a cliffhanger as the blob is finally frozen and sent to the Arctic...

The Blob is such a great, fun movie. I like how the blob's origin is never truly explained.

The film was originally titled The Molten Meteor, before people started calling the monster "the blob" behind the scenes, originally it was simply refereed to as "the mass" or "the glob" in the script.

Quite usually for genre, this film was actually filmed in widescreen and color, quite unlikely at the time!

The film can be really impressive when you consider both the time and the budget this was filmed in. The effects are pretty good, they used a lot of ingenuity for this monster. The blob was mostly made from silicon in most scenes. They also used a mix of matte painting and cardboard backgrounds. The color does helps set it aside from other similar films back then. The color of the blob really pops on screen!

The movie stars a young 27-year-old Steve McQueen in his debut leading role. We also have Aneta Corsaut and Earl Rowe in the lead supporting roles. A lot of experienced seasoned actors played the parts of the major speaking roles. Steve McQueen didn't believe the film would make much money, he wasn't paid much for this role but he even turned down profits, the film would end up making over $4 million!!

This is one of those very rare horror films were most characters have actually quite natural lines, dialogues are pretty decent and natural. It's even more impressive compared to a lot of horror films nowadays. I mean, even the cops are smart and they tried understanding and help our characters, actually listening to their theories.

I like how the film sort of ends on a downer note, future generations are safe... "as long as the Arctic remains cold"... Looks like we're gonna have some problems in the near future!

The music is kinda funky. The actual score for The Blob was composed by Ralph Carmichael. It's a pretty good, fun and creepy score. But producer Jack H. Harris had the opening credits theme replaced at the last minute with a fun but really random title song which actually doesn't exactly suit the more serious/horror tone of the film. While I really like the "blob theme song" from the film, I kind of think it would have been more appropriate for the sequel below. This pretty catchy theme song was written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David, recorded by "the Five Blobs". The song was added to make the film more campy, and it became a huge hid in the US - it's just so catchy!!

Overall: The Blob is a timeless classic of the genre. Who would imagine this was a good idea? Yet it works. It's a really fun film! It was a great idea to ditch the usual alien invaders and robots for something without any clear form or shape.

Highly Recommended cult classic for any scifi or horror fan out there!

The film developed a huge cult following over the decades, thanks to countless diffusion on TV. And to this day the whole town the film was filmed in still celebrate this iconic film every year in their own "BlobFest"!
The blob is now an iconic film creature. It spawned an entire genre of "creature features", from countless copies to inspired imitators and parodies - such as Tremors!

Speaking of the blob itself, a sequel was finally released in 1972 - more on that below. And let's not forget the great 1988 remake of the same name.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 UFOs!

Movie: Son of Blob, sometimes alternatively known as Beware! The Blob, Son of the Blob or even The Blob Returns
Directed by Larry Hagman
Release date June 1972
Genre Creature feature/Science-fiction/comedy B-movie
Country USA

Mostly known as "The Movie That J.R. Shot", as reference to Dallas. This sequel was originally first released as Beware! The Blob, but it is mostly known as Son of Blob these days. One of these sequels apparently named after the second King Kong film.

The movie was still based on a story by producer Jack H. Harris, who remained the only actual returning face from the first film.

The film itself was actually directed by Larry Hagman, the only feature film he ever made. He did direct a few episodes of I Dream of Jeannie, The Good Life, as well as several episodes of Dallas.

If that's the only thing this sequel's really known for, you know you can't expect much from it from the go...

The story takes place some years after the events of the original Blob.

It all opens up with a pretty weird opening for an horror film. But there's very little actual horror here so that is not a surprise. What appears to be a scene straight out of a typical sitcom from the time. This guy Chester is a lawyer that works for an oil company who has just returned to his home in the LA. suburbs. He came back from a trip to the North Pole, bringing back this weird frozen blob-ysh substance found on a drill. He put it in storage in his own home freezer. His wife accidentally releases it, and it immediately kills a cat, the wife and then Chester himself (who was somehow watching the original Blob film - I hate when they ruin my immersion like this!!). A bunch of cool hip hippie kids come by for a belated-birthday party... and they get the attention of the blob which goes after them!

The blob starts eating everyone it finds along its path. And it all leads to a last stand on a Bowling center. That's when the film remembers what it what supposed to be and it starts following a rather familiar climax scene, only far less interesting, less dynamic and dragging on for way too long compared to the original film...

If the first Blob was a decent scifi horror film made on a small budget, becoming a huge icon of the genre, this is the low-budget sequel nobody asked for. It's just a cheap cash-in to a cult movie.

The film stars Robert Walker, Jr., Carol Lynley, Godfrey Cambridge, Gwynne Gilford, Richard Stahl, Richard Webb, Marlene Clark, Gerrit Graham, J. J. Johnston, Danny Goldman and Larry Hagman himself in a cameo as a hobo. Fun fact for you, Sid Haig also has an uncredited cameo and a comedian and improv teacher Del Close also plays an hobo - he would also play a role in the later 1988 remake.

This was a very rushed film. It's... really bad. It really seems to lack a proper focus, jumping from one scene to another with no sense or rhyme.

The effects look somehow worse and a lot cheaper than in the much older 1950s original film. They also used silicone, but also a bunch of liquids and other materials as well as other cheap materials such as red balloons (!) and transparent plastic sheet (!!). The film also relies way too many times on a cheap camera trick (dubbed by fans "Blob-cam", where the blob appears clear on a different plan from the action).

It's pretty apparent and obvious when watching it, but a lot of dialogue and scenes in the film were actually completely improvised on the spot!

It's really difficult getting any fun from this generic cheap sequel.

And let's not even mention the really off-putting music composed by Mort Garson...

Overall: Beware! The Blob/Son of Blob is the kind of sequel people like to make fun.. but even that doesn't make the experience any enjoyable.

It's just.. bad. The awful marketing tried only coasting on the director's name alone, it clearly shows nobody expected any good from it.

Avoid It!

The original Blob was actual kind of scary, with some great genuine performances and great innovative effects. This sequel is pretty bad. It begins with such disjointed little scenes. They tried amping on the camp with this bad tongue-in-cheek approach. It tries to be a comedy... and fails!

The beginning of the film with the oil company lawyer seems to go nowhere. There's some pretty bad scenes with these annoying hippies. And one scene with some fat naked Russian guy that ends up at the police station after running naked in the street away from the blob seems to drag on for no reason!

I give it:
1 / 3 UFOs!

And that is it for today's DoubleFeature!

While I can't exactly recommend watching these two films back-to-back, it's the only way to make Son of Blob any enjoyable or watchable. Somehow, both these films couldn't be any more different.

Together they make for a great appetizer if you ever feel like watching the 1980s remake and want some comparison for consideration. It really helps to know where that third Blob feature film came from, what came before it.

That's all for this time's DoubleFeature!

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