(1958) dir. Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr., Russell S. Doughten, Jr.
Originally, movie night with the kids this week was meant to feature Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), another personal childhood favorite long since not seen. But when the disc of that film failed to play in the DVD player, I had to resort to a film that I had been talking to the kids about, one that actually resides in my very small personal library of DVD’s (despite the fact that I watch a lot of films, there are not many that I collect), the 1958 science fiction horror classic, The Blob.
I always liked The Blob. I don’t know that I would call it a childhood favorite, but it always stood out from so much of what I had watched, and that was before I really even knew who Steve McQueen was. The film is notable for being one of his first starring roles and that it features a hipster theme song penned by the notable Burt Bacharach. And also the cool effects of the giant, faceless, gelatinous blob that has come to terrorize small town America.
I categorize The Blob in a proud tradition of excellent horror films that were created independently in the more central parts of the U.S. by commercial filmmakers, ones who wanted to get a toehold into narrative film production and release, films as notable as George A. Romero’s brilliant Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Herk Harvey’s brilliant Carnival of Souls (1962). It’s struck me as interesting that these amazing films came from outside of the primary Hollywood machinery. The list could no doubt go on.
But The Blob is quite wonderful. Its “teenager issue” themes draped upon the horror film invasion and that the amazingly “alive” blob is in action, full color, devouring people left and right, a “thing”, almost an abstract concept come to life. What does it embody? It is out and out out there. And yet poppy almost in its kitsch and color.
The kids were cool with watching this. They were pretty scared at times, bored at others. But their recollection today was that “it was pretty scary”. Realizing that this film is 50 years old struck me notably, too. That’s a concept that they cannot fathom fully. Actually, I don’t know if I fully fathom it myself, though I try.