Friday, October 27, 2006

Most Influential Part 2

[Author's Note; So yes, I missed yesterday's post. Both lack of time and an all around lack of energy conspired to make me miss my earlier pledge to post daily on this site. I apologize. I have decided not to make up for it by posting twice today, since that doesn't really help my original goal. I did this not only as a tribute to Halloween, the greatest time of the year, but also to kick start my floundering writing habits. Trying to write to full posts in one day wouldn't help me regain momentum, it would probably just tire me out. Maybe I'll go past my original deadline by a day or two and add it to the end of this project.]

A few posts back I wrote about The Shining as one of the most influential films on my life. This is another. That doesn't mean this film is an outright classic, or even that it's held to a higher standard than others in my collection. What I'm referring to is the effect it had on my life, if it actually added to the collection of personal quirks and tics that make up my personality. In that regard today's film(s) is very influential indeed.

The Blob has always been one of my favorite movie monsters, up there with Godzilla or The Creature From The Black Lagoon. Certainly it doesn't have the sympathetic qualities of most monsters, such as Frankenstein or aforementioned Creature, and it definitely doesn't have the style of, say Dracula, but the Blob has something a bit harder to define that's always captivated me. It's an overall sense of doom and dread that most monsters don't get. Something akin to zombies, although both are usually seen as a bit hokey. The Blob has no mind, no rules by which you might stay alive, and it's unavoidable, inescapable, and damn near indestructible. All it does is slowly devour everything around it, growing exponentially as it does so. It's the type of fear I've always enjoyed most, and it's one of the rare occasions that it's pulled up with some top-notch gooey effects.

The first Blob film I saw was, I'm sorry to say, the 1988 remake. I was ten when it came out, and I don't remember when I actually got to see it, but it was probably on cable, and most likely a couple years after it's theatrical release. Before that I had long been interested in the Blob due to the countless books about 50s sci-fi movies I would check out from the library, mainly for their pictures. The original film is a good, fun time, and completely indicative of what was going on in popular culture at the time. Movies, music and other forms of entertainment were being marketed towards kids in much higher volume than in any other time in the 20th century, and The Blob exemplifies this by making the kids the heroes, and the parents just don't understand the threat until it's almost too late. I really can't think of much to say about this film that hasn't already been said, so I don't think I'll try. It should be noted, however, that the theme song kicks ass, and everyone in Alaska should be VERY worried about global warming releasing the Blob from it's prison.

Jack H. Harris tried to get a sequel off the ground, but was unable to until the 70s, when he got the assistance of, of all people, Larry Hagman. Larry Hagman directed the film, and to call it a good film would be misleading, although it certainly isn't without it's enjoyment factor. I think it's a good film, but I realize I'm more than a little biased. The film isn't scary, but I don't think it's trying to be. It's also not funny, at least, not in the way I'm sure the filmmakers intended. To give an example, Dick Van Patten's comedic relief character did nothing but give my girlfriend the heebie jeebies whenever he showed up.

The plot concerns a stereotypical African American man-slovenly, with a jive-talking growl and bickering with his wife as he settles into his easy chair to eat and watch TV-who brings home a frozen piece of the Blob and stores it in his freezer, next to the steaks. There's no explanation for this, no attempt to explain why this man would have a piece of the Blob, or why he thought putting it in his freezer was a good idea. The film is ALMOST a parody of the original Blob, but it mainly comes off as a parody of itself, and although it may not have many of the hallmarks of a good film, it's nevertheless enjoyable and goofy and great for a gathering of friends.

The 1998 remake, on the other hand, is everything that Beware!... was not. Capitalizing quite well on the inherent terror of the Blob, this time casting the titular monster as a mutated government experiment gone wrong and loose in a small Midwestern town. It's definitely an 80s film, although that mainly surfaces in the styles and lingo the kids use. In this film the kids are again cast as the heroes, and the adults do everything they can to not listen. The effects used for the Blob in this one are never less than disgusting, in particular the death scenes that show the blob slowly devouring people layer by layer. First the skin, then muscles, then bone. I know it's not fashionable to like remakes, but this one is actually quite good. One of the better mainstream horror movies of the late 80s, with an always appreciated appearance by David Lynch regular Jack Nance.

This movie had two effects on me. One; when I clean out my garbage disposal it never crosses my mind that it might turn on accidentally, but I'm always a bit worried the blob might be down there. And second: if you ever watch a movie in the theatre with me, and you pay close enough attention, you'll see me look up to the ceiling just to make sure the blob isn't about to pick me out of my seat.


Rik Tod said...

Ya hozna!

The 1988 version of The Blob is highly underrated, and if I were you, I would not show any hesitation in declaring my love for it. Whether you saw it before the original is irrelevant. The chief problem I have with most people who see a remake and then discover that the film was made earlier, which is often the problem with "next generations," is their stubborn and fervent need to continue their ignorance of the source material, even if they now know better.

But, because you are a student of film, you have actively sought out the other versions and are able to appreciate them, even the Hagman sequel, for what they are and to see the films somewhat through the eyes of the earlier generations that lived through them.

I'm just thankful that the '88 version came out before every goddamn genre film became cursed with CG effects. I'm fairly certain that my high opinion of Chuck Russell's flick would not be at the same level if it were done post-Jurassic Park.

The Working Dead said...

Good point, I can't imagine liking the Blob if it had been all CG. The practical effects are always so much more enjoyable, even when they're not that well done.

As such, I'm not really anticipating the upcoming, in production hell remake. Apparently it was offered to the guys who did Saw, but they turned it down because they hate remakes.