Welcome back to another Saturday Night B-Movie review. Last time out we reviewed Rubber, a film about a sentient car tyre… Yep. This time out we lock at Irvin S Yeaworth Jr’s The Blob (1958).
When teenagers Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) witness what they think is merely a falling meteorite hitting nearby they decide to investigate it. At the same time, a local farmer foolishly picks at the meteorite and causes catastrophe for him and his town.
I had previously seen the 1988 remake of The Blob many moons ago and thought about how weird it was. How did they make it? Why did they make it? Who gave money for it to be made. So many questions. It wasn’t until I found out that there was, in fact, a previous version (that had its own sequel) made in the 1950s AND it starred Steve McQueen. Sold.
Steve (or Steven as he is billed for this film) McQueen, of course, commands the screen and his upward trajectory after The Blob was a near certainty. Though that is almost a false praise for The Blob as the acting of the other characters is less to be desired, but hey this is a very obvious B-movie and we cannot expect the best acting every time. A rather awkward happenstance is that McQueen is made out to be 18 when he looks every bit of a man in his 30s (he was only 28 at the time). When he talks to the police about the emergency breaking out he looks older than some of those he is trying to get help from. Utter joys for a fan of a B-movie such as this, as this is almost always the case. Teenagers who are in their late 20s is a Hollywood running gag at this point (though even in the early 1920s Mary Pickford could attest to a similar life).
Without a doubt, the majority of time and energy went towards the ever-growing blob itself and the special effects. Are there links to the colour of the blob itself? Possibly this entity is a deep red that highlights so many bad things in 1950s America, Soviets, danger and lust. Always moving towards its next victim like an unkillable menace. Even though it is literally a red blob moving about for the era this would have taken a fair bit of time to conjure up. To be fair to this version, they did a far sight better job of creating a scary being than its sequel in 1972 which cannot even be classed as a B-movie. The feeling that the film simply ran out of the budget is pretty clear here as we are given as abrupt an ending as I have seen in quite a while. The hope that The Blob would have a sequel is also evident from the open-ended finale.
Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr has some difficulties with setting up scenes, with some characters placed in bizarre places for where they should be. This would be his second of only 6 films directed and it is sadly obvious as to why his career did not blossom. He does his best of course, but angles are limited. You almost think that at times he learned the trade from watching D.W. Griffith films due to the rather static cuts and random insert close-ups of characters uttering their dialogue. Yeaworth Jr, of course, worked on short Christian educational films and really should not have been near such a project.
In the end, The Blob really tells the story of an age of teenagers rebelling and trying to take control of their lives in the late 50s and the authority (or grown-ups) not believing them fearing that they are merely juvenile delinquents. Even threads of Communist fears are portrayed here. Is the blob really from space or from the Soviet Union? Who knows? To me, the main theme is whether these adolescents are worth being trusted, the politics of the time wanted them to be trusted so the most good-natured adults believe Steve. A trend that will never really leave horror films if we are honest.
The Blob is not a great film or even a good film, as, with many B-Movies, it is a great bad film. That awkward middle that B-movies love to tightrope along.