Often overlooked in the discussion of exceptional horror remakes, 1988’s The Blob is superior to its predecessor on just about every level. While auteurs like John Carpenter and David Cronenberg may have elevated 1950s sci-fi B-movies into horrific profiles of the human psyche with their respectively reimagined The Thing and The Fly, director Chuck Russell (The Mask, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) trims the fat off the underwhelming 1958 original and doubles down on the gooey, goofy mayhem.
The plot is more or less the same as the original: A small town is terrorized by a pink, amorphous blob that continually expands as it absorbs hapless citizens. This time, there’s a government conspiracy involving the Cold War and a military coverup. The satire here nevertheless is half-baked, and the real pleasures come from the absolutely splatter-ific setpieces in which people are painfully and horrifically dissolved by the titular goop monster. Said monster is in itself a wonderful practical effect, a veiny quilt of ooze that, when stretching over the faces of its victims, resembles a stomach slowly digesting a still-living meal. It all looks queasily … internal.
Tony Gardner’s special effects work is still shocking to this day and remains the primary reason to seek this out. People aren’t just killed by the blob, they are decimated by it. Skin peels, limbs tear, bodies implode and characters whom most horror flicks would spare are given the cruelest deaths.
That doesn’t mean The Blob is some sort of feel-bad experience. Russell’s film is a loving homage to ‘50s alien-invasion pictures as well as a winking parody of them. There’s no way you can’t laugh or cheer when the protagonist (played by Not Matt Dillon) jumps over the blob on his motorcycle or a sleazeball tries to grope his date and finds a gnarly surprise under her blouse. Fortunately, this film seems to have gained a bit of a cult following thanks to the online legion of horror nerds, but this excellent Blu-ray reissue from Scream! Factory will hopefully give it the wider recognition it deserves.