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The Blob (DVD)

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Every age gets the monsters it deserves, or so the theory goes. That would neatly explain the thinly veiled nuclear threats—from Creature From The Black Lagoon through Godzilla and beyond—that dominated '50s horror films. But why did the '50s deserve The Blob? Like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Blob works as an elusive metaphor that slips away from just about every explanation designed to contain it. You could view it as a symbol of McCarthyite paranoia, or of post-war consumerism gone horribly awry. Or you could view it, as producer Jack H. Harris states on one of the commentary tracks on this extras-laden DVD, as simply an attempt to combine the horror genre with a growing interest in teenage wildlife. (The explanation is more suggestive than Harris seems to realize.) A noticeably non-teenage "Steven" McQueen stars as a misunderstood teen in the James Dean mold who interrupts a make-out session to investigate a mysterious meteorite. After discovering a grizzled backwoods loner with a gelatinous substance on his arm, McQueen brings him to a doctor, unaware that the substance will eventually grow and terrorize his otherwise sleepy small town. Whatever its flaws as a film, a none-too-scary monster chief among them, The Blob is a uniquely compelling monster movie. The decision to shoot in Technicolor, largely on real locations in Pennsylvania, invests it with a high-'50s feel money couldn't buy. The remarkable seriousness the actors, particularly method disciple McQueen, bring to the material makes the film difficult to dismiss as mere camp. So does a finale that unites the entire town, teens and grown-ups alike, in an all-metaphors-aside fight against an alien threat, a moment that seems to confirm historian Bruce Eder's description of The Blob as "like watching some kind of collective home movie of who we were and who we thought we were." Or maybe it's simply the best film ever to pit hot-rodding teens against a mass of silicone. It delivers the goods any way you look at it.