It’s getting colder, the leaves are changing, and monsters are all over the windows. It’s Halloween time again, and that means another trip into the graveyard with THE UNSEEN HORROR. Just like last year, we’re taking a look at the lesser-known pieces of horror media to give you all-new frights. This year, we start with one of the most horrifying things in modern cinema — the remake. Specifically, we’re looking at the remake of THE BLOB (1988), a retread of a 50’s horror classic…

The Blob
Oh, not again…

The modern era sees plenty of remakes, but to prevent bodily harm to the author (dying sucked enough the first time) we’re looking at a pair of good remakes. So let’s look at a 50’s horror classic remade for a more cynical era.

The Plot

THE BLOB (1988) largely echoes it’s predecessor, as a meteorite falls to Earth, containing a strange, gooey protoplasm. Said protoplasm absorbs living matter at a frightening speed, growing larger with each victim. A government team forces the nearby town into quarantine. All is not as it seems though. Two teens learn the meteorite is actually a U.S. satellite and the Blob a germ warfare experiment that went awry. It’s up to the teens to reveal the truth and find a way to stop the Blob before it sucks the whole town into itself.

Honoring and Updating

The major strength of THE BLOB (1988) is that it honors it’s source material while efficiently updating it. The scenes of the Blob crashing to Earth and the old man who finds are near perfect echoes of the scene from the original. The new version also keeps elements like the Blob’s weakness (extreme cold) and the classic scene of the creature attacking in a movie theater.

The attention to the source material is no surprise, given the team behind the film. Director Chuck Russell and writer Frank Darabount worked together on NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS, so they understand a good scare. Darabont also showed a knack for strong adaption in his future films THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GREEN MILE. It’s no surprise then that the remake honors the original effectively.

Blob
It’s all the same universe people!

Plot and Character

However, the updates in this movie can’t be ignored either. Darabont’s most obvious contribution is the government plot, which fit the general cynicism and distrust of the Cold War 1980’s. The character updates are vital as well. The original film, which starred a debuting Steve McQueen, was always a ‘creature feature’. As such, the characters generally filled stock roles– the boy, the girl, the victim, etc. Here the characters are more fleshed out.

The film splits the lead male role into the jock Paul and bad boy Brian. Both characters demonstrate well-rounded personas (Paul is earnest but impatient, while Brian is rough but caring underneath). The secondary villain, Dr. Meadows, easily shifts between concerned doctor and obsessed scientist. However, the strongest portrayal is the female lead Meg, who carries the weight of the film. Meg begins as a sweet cheerleader but shows more of a take-charge attitude as the film goes on. She rescues her brother from the Blob, and even fights it one on one. It’s quite reminiscent of the title character in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

The (Holy Crap!) Effects

Arguably the most important update was the effects. The original BLOB was hampered by the effects of the time. The Blob itself was made of silicon but generally resembled strawberry jam. It could never be shown absorbing anyone, so it was always implied off-screen. Generally, I enjoy horror that leaves you room to fill in the blanks. However THE BLOB (1988) showed how far special effects had come, and… well look what they did.

The Blob itself was a combination of puppetry and stop-motion effects. Its color came from Burger King strawberry shake dye (seriously). The results are astounding, especially considering the limited budget. Special effects man Tony Gardner expected to add a few effects but ending up working with an expanded team of thirty-five people. The work paid off, as the Blob manages to look powerful and huge, while never once resembling strawberry jam.

Let THE BLOB (1988) Creep Up On You

Horror fans generally consider the best horror remakes to be THE THING (1982) and THE FLY (1986). Both films deserve their spots, but THE BLOB (1988) deserves to be among them. The film does an amazing job at the core purpose of a remake– honoring the original while modernizing it. The practical effects shine, the script is smart, tense, and even funny at times, and the performances hit their notes perfectly.

This is an example of a remake done right, not one done just because of name value. So if you like the fun of a creature feature with good character and just a little depth, check out THE BLOB (1988). And if you want something a little more Gothic, come back next time for a new version of one of the oldest horror films ever…

One Comment

  1. […] we’ve reached the end of our dark road of blobs, laughs, and commentary. Halloween is here, and that means it’s time to close the lid on THE […]

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