Here we go, readers and listeners, the second episode of the To Watch Pile After Dark Podcast, and the first episode counting down my top 50 favourite horror movies. Attached is a link to the Anchor FM version of the podcast, but the podcast is also available at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever good podcasts can be heard. Here also, we have a transcript of the podcast as well.
Hello there, horror fans, and welcome to the To Watch Pile After Dark Podcast. I’m your host, Justin McNamara and whilst this isn’t the first episode, it is certainly the first episode where I’ll be counting down my top 50 favourite films.
In other words, this is number 50 in the top 50 countdown.
(Play Blob Trailer)
The Blob tells of the quiet town of Arborville, California, a town whose normal winter season has been delayed and still the town prepares for it as it appears the town may come alive in the snow.
In the hills behind the town, a vagrant witnesses a meteorite fall to earth, and upon investigation, a weird, seemingly intelligent blob type object attaches itself to his hand. He panics and runs into local ne’er-do-well Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon) and a young couple on their first date, Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) and Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch Jr) who upon seeing the ‘thing’ on his hand, take him immediately to the local medical centre where whatever it was on his hands consumes both him, and Paul.
Of course, Meg is disbelieved when she tells of Paul demise, and Brian is suspected in the disappearance of him but very quickly, with the appearance of a scientific team arriving in the town, everyone believes them when they say something is not right.
The Blob continues to abSorb every living creature in its path, and it’s revealed that it’s not some weird creature from another world, but a horrifying weapons experiment gone horribly wrong.
Will Meg and Brian survive, or even more importantly, will the town survive.
Chuck Russell, directed an co-wrote this film with Frank Darabont, with whom he had previously worked on A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 with, and has a soundtrack by Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson. The special effects, which for 1988 are pretty kick arse, are done by Tony Gardiner.
My earliest memory of this remake of The Blob is the VHS packaging; bright pink and it stood out on the video shop shelves covered in black video cases. I have faint recollection of the cover of Fangoria that had this story in it, but I’m not sure I got that issue on release, and that I may have missed it and had to catch up by buying it from a second hand retailer on George St in Sydney.
Russell and Darabont’s script has a few hokey attempts at being cool with a few wisecracks, but the story is solid and thrilling. For the most part, the cast are great, with the highlights being Shawnee Smith from the first Saw films, who makes for a delightfully scrappy and resourceful hero, and Meg’s father, played by Art LaFleur, whose ‘ribbed’ line cracks me up every time.
It’s funny, you can also tell that Frank Darabont has something to do with this story as the ‘town under siege’ tale was one he perfected with his adaptation of Stephen Kings ‘The Mist’.
Honestly, Gardiner’s special effects have a lot to do with my affection of the film. Yea\s, there’s a clunker or two, but Paul’s demise and a few others are sights to behold, and worthy of a little of the admiration bestowed upon the great special effects that John Carpenter’s The Thing special effects crew gets.
As far as being a remake goes, and if my withered brain serves me well, letters to every movie magazine of the time shouted down this remake as being somewhat creatively corrupt, but it’s not an issue to which I subscribe. I like remakes. I like to see what different creative teams offer the same story. I find the same appeal with comics even though comics are a more character driven commodity, I do like to see direct artistic takes on an origin, or an aesthetic. A creatively corrupt remake is one that either echoes the original absolutely like Gus Van Santa’s redundant Psycho remake, or when it goes so far off script that it doesn’t reflect the original at all, like the 2005 House of Wax remake that was more a Tourist Trap remake that did itself a disservice by taglining/ advertising itself with the line ‘see Paris Die’ in reference to seeing the heiress, who had decided to be an actor this week, get butchered by the killer who owned the titular premises.
The Blob sat that fine line that, and I shall use John Carpenter’s The Thing again as a point of reference, it used the original as a kick off point and then both modernised and deliberately subverted it to make it something different, and it really works all the way though.
The unfortunate thing for this film is that it was unsuccessful. With a $19 million budget, it required far more than its $8.2 box office to be deemed a success. Lenard Maltin gave The film a mere 2/4 stars and described it as an unnecessary remake, and it wasn well received by others either. Thankfully, it has reached somewhat of a cult status as the years have gone by, not just for its violent special effects, but also for some of the minor characters who are as quirky as quirky can get.
Box office and critical reviews be damned, though, I really like this film, and I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it. In Australia at the moment, the current release is a two pack from Umbrella Entertainment which has the original film and this remake, but you’ll only put the original in for one spin and this will be revisited several times.
Thank you for listening to this second episode of the To Watch Pile After Dark, see you next episode…