FREAKSHOW The Blob

Join us every Monday, as we look at a cult movie. Our film of the week this time pits the world’s oldest teenager against some alien jam…

1958
Director: Irvin S Yeaworth Jr
Cast: Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe
Available on region one and (if you can find a copy!) region two DVD
Watch the trailer here – and hear the theme song here!

Think it’s cheeky that half the Buffy cast were obviously in their twenties when playing high school kids? That’s nothing compared to The Blob, which provides a first starring role for one “Steven McQueen”. He plays a teenager despite the fact that he was 27 years old at the time, and – with his greying temples and frown lines – a mature 27 at that.

A meteorite lands in a small town, releasing a protoplasmic lifeform that absorbs flesh on contact. Soon what resembles a giant lump of raspberry jam is rolling around town, perhaps taking revenge for the harsh treatment of its Earthly fruit preserve brothers. Young Steve tries to warn the town but – perhaps unconsciously suspicious of his age – the cops don’t believe him.

The Blob is one of those B-movies that will always inhabit a warm little nook in the affections of SF fans but, truth be told, it’s never quite as fun as it should be. The blob attacks are the main draw – and they’re few and far between. Every amusingly “hip” line of dialogue (“You mean this little pebble’s been hot-rodding around the universe?”) is cancelled out by an interminable “character” scene. Never mind fleshing out the local cops! Show us the angry jam!

The script has one genius idea: staging a blob attack at a cinema, a movie-within-a-movie moment that was way ahead of its time. You’ve gotta love the resulting scenes of panic – when the “terrified” crowd runs out of the cinema, most of the excited extras are clearly grinning like mad (you can also see the same bloke in a pink shirt running out twice!) But as for McQueen, the King Of Cool, acting like a gawky kid? Here on the net, you can find middle-aged women in pigtails and ankle socks who make more convincing teenagers…

A spoofy follow-up, Beware! The Blob, followed in 1972, directed by none other than Larry Hagman – yes, JR Ewing! You can give that a miss, but the surprisingly gory 1988 remake, co-written by some bloke by the name of Frank Darabont (whatever happened to him?), is well worth a watch.

Ian Berriman, reviews editor of SFX and cult movie nut, has watched Rat Pfink A Boo Boo four or five times, but never seen On The Waterfront. The weirdo.

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