Monday, June 8, 2009

Film Review: THE BLOB (1988, Chuck Russell)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 95 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Director Chuck Russell (ERASER, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS), Candy Clark, Kevin Dillon, Jeffrey DeMunn (THE GREEN MILE, THE MIST, BURN AFTER READING), Bill Moseley, Jack Nance (ERASERHEAD, BLUE VELVET, TWIN PEAKS), Art LaFleur (FIELD OF DREAMS, COBRA), Donovan Leitch, Shawnee Smith (SAW, THE ISLAND), shot by Mark Irwin (VIDEODROME, SCANNERS, Wes Craven's NEW NIGHTMARE), and cast by Johanna Ray (casting director for David Lynch (1986-Present), Quentin Tarantino (1996-Present), COOL AS ICE, SHOWGIRLS, and GHOULIES),.
Tag-line: "Scream now, while there's still room to breathe."
Best one-liner: "I feel like the one-legged man in an ass kicking contest."

"The Blob's not scary. It's just red Jell-o." SCCHLERRRRP! Yeah, asscheek, you just got absorbed by the Blob. The Blob IS scary. How many times do I have to say this? It has no sense of reason. I guess you can say that about a lot of horror monsters, but the Blob is completely inscrutable. You can't even say with certainty that hunger is its motivation. Does it think? Is it even alive? Well, you don't really have time to tackle these questions when the Blob is coming. Or the Glob. Yeah, the original 50's title was THE GLOB THAT GIRDLED THE GLOBE, which is completely awesome.

Anyway, the 80's saw some of the most successful horror/sci-fi remakes ever, many of the films even eclipsing the originals (THE FLY, THE THING, CAT PEOPLE). Now, the original BLOB can't be touched, but this comes damn close. A lot of that's due to Frank Darabont's writing. He's a man (THE MIST, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, screenplay for NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3) who knows how to do creature features right.

The set-up's perfect- we get loads of well-done, condensed character development AND the Blob in the first 20 minutes; we have complete unpredictability in terms of Blob victims; there's gruesome, unnerving, Cronenbergian FX; and there are some definite emotional stakes. We got the zany Candy Clark, a cameo by Jack "Eraserhead" Nance, the underrated Jeffrey DeMunn, singer Donavan's son as an all-American jock, a bit part by Bill Moseley, and a totally be-mulleted Kevin Dillon.

And it all takes place in a 50's meets 80's Anytown, USA that has a surprisingly evocative flavor to it that's very TWILIGHT ZONE-y. It's got a very successful mildly Lovecraftian feel to it as well. I was really shocked at how well-done this film is. And the ending, which I shan't reveal here, is brilliantly set up, and I dare say gleefully nihilistic. Four stars.

-Sean Gill

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