First of all, I’d like to point out that this time I watched the right version. (Although, to be perfectly honest, only after I had already re-watched the original 1958 version first.)
Be that as it may. Let’s talk remakes, because that’s what the 1988 version of The Blob was – a remake of the original starring a 28-year-old Steve McQueen in his debut starring role as teenager Steve Andrews. The 1988 version had a 22-year-old Kevin Dillon playing a teen, so there’s that.
The 1988 version follows the original pretty closely right up until the point when the guys in hazmat suits show up. It seems that they suspect that an alien microbe has landed on Earth in a meteorite and is now running around infecting people. Only … it turns out the nice, avuncular Dr. Meddows – civilian head of the hazmat guys – is LYING, and The Blob is really a biological warfare experiment belonging to the U.S. that’s crashed here in a satellite and is running around dissolving people!
I don’t know about you, but I hate when that happens.
The movie itself was an odd mixture of Fifties/Eighties sensibilities. The clothes and hairstyles all screamed Eighties, while the high school scenes (our team wins!), and the small town scenes (with the motherly diner owner feeding the sad, malnourished juvenile delinquent a sandwich even though the diner is closed for the night) all said Fifties to me. The random scene in the car where one of the “teenagers” tries to cop a feel from his passed-out girlfriend was creepily reminiscent of the allegations against Bill Cosby, and as a result had a nice, timeless quality to it. Plus, the jerk gets blobbed, which was also nice.
The special effects in the 1988 version were vastly superior to the clunky 1958 effects (although, the 1958 ones were not that bad, I thought). Thirty years of advances in special effects allowed the filmmaker to show us all kinds of variations on the Blob theme, the best ones being the “ceiling Blobs,” and the “telephone booth Blob,” and the “scaling the town hall Blob”. I also liked the pretty crystalline Blob when it gets flash-frozen at the end.
Speaking of which, in the 1988 version, a girl – played by actual teenager, Shawnee Smith – figures out that the Blob doesn’t like cold, and she sets about fighting back with a fire extinguisher just like in the 1958 version. Of course, since this was the Eighties they had to do it up bigger than that, so the juvenile delinquent/heartthrob, Kevin Dillon, goes and gets the town’s snow-making truck to try and finish the Blob off. (In case you were wondering, size does matter, it seems. At least when you’re trying to kill evil, covert science experiments gone awry.) And then … and then, once the Blob is lying all over Main Street in these pretty, pastel crystals, the town mechanic says something like, “Let’s get this thing put in the town’s ice house before morning.” (!)
The one bit of wisdom I learned from both versions is this – If you see a meteorite streak across the sky at night, don’t try to track it down. But if you do find out where it landed, don’t go near it. But if you do go near it, then for God’s sake, don’t poke the glowing crack in said meteorite with a stick. And if you do poke it with a stick, for the love of God, don’t lift the stick coated with the weird, alien goo up close to your face to take a better look at it!
Are we clear on that? Good. I can’t take any more versions of The Blob.