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Film / The Blob (1988)

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The Blob is a 1988 horror film directed by Chuck Russell, who co-write the film with Frank Darabont. It is a remake of the 1958 film of the same name.

A meteorite crashes into the forest outside of the small mountain town of Arborville, California, and is discovered by a local hobo. A blob of slime from the crater attaches itself to the hobo and begins consuming him. The afflicted bum crosses paths with three local teens: jock Paul, cheerleader Meg, and bad boy Brian. The teens take the bum to a hospital, where the Blob consumes him as well as Paul and breaks free to ooze amok throughout the town. Meg tries to get the locals to understand the danger, but no one believes her and instead want to pin the recent trouble on Brian.

Circumstances seem to improve when government officials begin swarming the area, fully aware of the danger and ready to combat the threat. Brian overhears their leader admit that the Blob is an unexpected result of a government experiment. The officials place their top priority on recovering the Blob for use as a weapon. All lives in town are secondary.

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The Blob continues to attack more and more townsfolk as the government agents begin quarantining the population. Meg is forced to rescue her little brother from a cinema that is attacked by the Blob. They flee into the sewers, where Brian arrives just in time to save them, but the lead government scientist tries to kill them to prevent the truth from leaking. The Blob kills the lead scientist and emerges onto the city street, now colossal in size and seemingly unstoppable.

The Blob rampages through the street, killing dozens of fleeing townsfolk. Meg realizes that cold is the Blob's weakness, and she helps a group of townsfolk barricade themselves in the town hall using fire extinguishers. Brian arrives with a snow maker truck and crashes it into the blob. Meg sets an explosive charge on the truck and detonates it, freezing the Blob into a pile of crystals. The town is saved, and they plan to gather the Blob crystals to keep frozen before day breaks. But meanwhile, the town's local priest has kept a few crystals in a jar and begins preaching about a day of judgment soon at hand.

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This film provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Brian sports an extravagant mullet in addition to a single stud earring. Yes, this is the 1980s.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: It's wide enough for a bike to go through. The sewers being so absurdly spacious is actually explained in an easy-to-miss bit of dialogue. The "sewers" are actually an aqueduct system built to prevent flooding from the mountains.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: The advanced creature effects in this version allow the Blob to use more complex tactics in the way it hunts. It's now apparently aware that it must take its victims by surprise. We frequently see it hide from and ambush its prey rather than mindlessly ooze toward its next victim.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: Ever so slightly, facilitating a minor plot twist not present in the original. Instead of being an alien life-form which arrived via a meteor, the Blob is a biological weapon created by the American military which was ejected into space in a satellite, mutated in the depths of space, and crashed back down to Earth.
  • Adult Fear: Meg must save her little brother from the Blob. Her brother's friend is not so lucky, and we see the boy's worried mother hoping that he would return safe.
  • Antagonist Title: The eponymous Blob is of course the monster that tries to devour everyone.
  • Anti-Hero: Flagg is a delinquent, but helps save the day in the end.
  • Anyone Can Die: The reason the film uses a Decoy Protagonist is to make the audience feel that anyone can die.
  • Artistic License – Biology: How does the Blob know how to find prey, actively hunt, and grab people if it seemingly doesn't have distinct tissues, organs or sensory receptors? It's never explained, but otherwise the Blob won't be a threat.
  • Asshole Victim: A few, especially Dr. Meddows. Special mention goes to the guy who won't stop talking in the theatre and is rude towards Kevin when he asks him to be quiet and quit ruining the movie. When Kevin tells him for the last time to be quiet, it looks as though the guy might hit him, but he gets snatched up by the Blob.
  • Battle Couple: During the climax, Meg and Brian work to stop the blob.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: After a failed attempt to blow up the Blob by dropping some bombs down the sewer, Hargis is about to be crushed and consumed by the Blob. He pulls the pins from his grenades just as the Blob falls on him. We see two flashes inside the Blob as the grenades explode. Since Hargis had seen the Blob take victims already, this was the lesser of gruesome fates.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Christopher Meddows, who created the Blob and is responsible for its rampage, using it to test its power. Unfortunately, the monster proves too much for even him to handle, and he is devoured before the Blob almost consumes the whole town.
  • Bioweapon Beast: The Blob in this version is revealed to be the accidental result of an American military experiment conducted on a space satellite. Although the military scientists responsible didn't expect it, they're very pleased with the result and talk about deploying it against the Soviets. (In the original, it's just an alien who visits Earth to find food.)
  • Blob Monster: Like the original, the Blob is an amorphous monster that devours its prey to add them to its own biomass.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Thanks to improved special effects by the time. The deaths were considerably more gruesome, because we see some of the victims dissolve on-screen.
  • Brick Joke: Scott purchases ribbed condoms from the pharmacist, claiming they're for his buddy Paul. When Paul shows up for his date with Meg, it turns out that her father is the pharmacist. He snarls, "Ribbed!" when he recognizes Paul.
  • Came from the Sky: How The Blob got to earth. Subverted when it's revealed to have been shot into orbit by human scientists in the first place.
  • Ceiling Corpse: The theater manager walks into the projection room and a yo-yo falls down from above. He looks up, and sees the projectionist stuck to the ceiling, half-dissolved by the Blob before he himself gets snatched up by it.
  • Censored Child Death: Averted when Eddie gets half-dissolved by the blob in the sewers.
  • Closed Circle: Government scientists have surrounded the town to prevent the Blob from getting out and turn the protagonists back home when they attempt to leave.
  • Combat Tentacles: Part of what makes this Blob much more dangerous; it's not only faster in general, but it can shoot out pseudopods to grab prey from afar rather than having to flow over the top of them.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Getting killed by the Blob is pretty horrible. You're basically digested alive, and the process isn't quick.
  • Darker and Edgier: Oh yes. The deaths are not only more graphic, but come more as a shock, its victims extending to children (and not censored that is) and the supposed jock protagonist.
  • Date Rape Averted: Scott gets his date Vicki so drunk that she passes out. Scott starts to unbutton her blouse and fondle her while she's unconscious, but it turns out that she's actually dead, hollowed by the Blob. It kills him next, preventing his date rape by default.
  • Death by Adaptation: The Reasonable Authority Figure in this film, one of the main protagonists in the original, is killed fairly early.
  • Death by Sex: Scott gets Vicki so drunk she passes out. The Blob gets to her, sucking her innards out, while he's mixing another batch. When Scott sees she's passed out, he goes in for the Date Rape, only to discover there's nothing there but the Blob.
  • Death of a Child: Meg rescues her child brother, Kevin and his friend, Eddie. Right before they climb out of the sewer, Eddie is pulled underwater screaming. Moments later, he pops out of the water again. Half melted. Still screaming.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Paul Taylor is the likeable jock dating the heroine Meg while Brian Flagg is a James Dean-like anti-authority dude with more than a few run-ins with the Man. Then Paul becomes the Blob's second victim, and Flagg takes over the Hero role.
  • Disconnected by Death: Paul's phone call is ended abruptly by the Blob dropping on him. As well, the diner owner is chased into a phone booth, which the Blob leisurely envelops. She has time for one phone call - which does no good at all - before the Blob busts in and sucks her out.
  • Dramatic Irony: There are several scenes where the audience sees the Blob lurking nearby or slowly flowing toward its ignorant prey.
  • *Drool* Hello: Paul sees a few drops of Hollywood Acid drip onto a desk before realizing that the Blob is right above him.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Subverted by Hargis, the military commander. When the Blob is about to fall on him, he grins and pulls the pins on two grenades. A few moments later, almost as an afterthought, we see two brief flashes of light inside the Blob, which had no effect whatsoever.
  • Eaten Alive: The worst part about being caught by the Blob is that it isn't like a conventional predator which will usually kill you before it eats you. Some of its victims are still alive and screaming as they're gruesomely melted into slime.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After the Blob is beaten, a piece of the Blob is shown to be in the possession of the now fundamentalist and unhinged town preacher, who declares that he will one day use it to launch the Apocalypse when "the Lord gives me a sign".
  • Everyone Has Standards: The military types accompanying Dr. Meddows occasionally object to his cavalier attitude toward the Blob and lack of interest in the lives of the townsfolk and the soldiers themselves. They ultimately turn on him.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dr. Meddows comes across as friendly and helpful at first glance, but we see soon later who he truly is.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: Briggs is yanked backwards between the shelves of a bookcase by the Blob, with enough force to bend him in half. A kitchen worker's partially-dissolved body is hauled down a sink's drainhole.
  • Foreshadowing: After a funny case of Accidental Pervert thanks to his friend Scott, Paul jokingly vows, "Scott Jeske is gonna die." A few scenes later....
  • Ghost Town: Subverted in the opening scenes, which show the small town's streets empty and apparently deserted ... because everyone's at the high school football game.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Kevin gets his jacket caught in a door with the Blob on the other side. Meg struggles with the jacket's stuck zipper until she can get him out of it.
  • Gorn: Oh yes. Being digested by a transparent monster that is all stomach leaves nothing to the imagination. Ironically, the goriest deaths happen early on, when the Blob is at its smallest, or to people that simply contact its slime trail. One theater patron looks okay, until the protagonist lifts her off the floor - to find half her head melted into it.
  • Government Conspiracy: In this film this is the source of the Blob.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • After Dr. Meddows' death, the other soldiers, several of whom were already on the fence about sacrificing the entire town to capture the Blob, quickly change their plan to try and destroy it and save the town instead.
    • Deputy Briggs is equivilent to Sgt. Bert in the original. He's a hardass who insists that Brian is behind the recent disturbances, but when the government agents pull weapons on Brian, he defends him and listens to reason. He then helps the townsfolk barricade themselves in the town hall.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: Garden Tool Massacre, the movie showing at the cinema, is a classic slasher example of these. When an expendable teen spots the killer brandishing a hedge trimmer at him while wearing a hockey mask, he comments, "It's not hockey season..."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dr. Meddows, the Big Bad of the film responsible for creating the Blob, is eaten by his own experiment.
  • Immune to Bullets: The Blob is immune to this and pretty much any other physical weaponry.
  • Jerk Jock: Scott Jeske, who progresses from lying to Reverend Meeker and a pharmacist that the condoms he's buying are actually for his buddy Paul (making Paul have a really, really awful first meeting with the pharmacist, who is his date's father, when he goes to pick her up) to getting his date drunk so he can date rape her. It's almost a Karmic Death when the Blob devours him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brian is rough around the edges presumably due to a neglectful upbringing but he is brave, resourceful, and ultimately does the right thing.
  • Karmic Death: Dr Meddows, who is snatched and devoured right after ordering his squad to execute Flagg.
  • Kill It with Ice: The Blob can be defeated by exposure to subzero temperatures, which can eventually freeze it completely solid. Even this doesn't truly kill it however; once the ice melts, the frozen pieces spring right back to life.
  • Knight Templar: The scientist Dr. Meddows, who wants to control the Blob so that he can create a weapon that can put US Military ahead of Russian Military. All patriotic and stuff but then he deems the town expendable.
  • It Came from the Sink: A man trying to fix a clogged sink puts his hand down the drain and ends up getting sucked up and killed by the titular blob.
  • Lovable Jock: Paul, in contrast with his friend Scott, is an all-around helpful, decent guy. Pity that one of his good deeds leads directly to his horrific death.
  • Match Cut: When the (initially small) blob from the meteor first envelops and begins slurping up the Can Man's arm, we cut to Kevin slurping up some Jell-O for dessert at home.
  • Mexican Standoff: Before the final fight with the Blob, Brian gets into one with Meddows, his men and Deputy Briggs. During this time, he reveals Meddows's true nature, and the distracted Meddows gets killed.
  • Mythology Gag: The film takes two playful shots at the original film, in which the Blob looks a lot like a glob of strawberry Jello or jam rather than the pinkish mass of amorphous tentacles in this version:
    • When Brian and Meg are in the diner, Brian knocks over a can from a shelf and spills its red slurry of contents all over the floor. He quips, "Looks like I just killed the strawberry jam!"
    • When the Blob is about to absorb a victim, we get a Match Cut to Kevin sucking up some strawberry Jello.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The titular monster is nearly impossible to injure, since it doesn't have anything to injure. Bullets only attract its attention, a flamethrower is only a minor nuisance, bombs have absolutely no effect. Only freezing cold temperatures have any reactionary effect on it, and even that doesn't kill it, since we see it can survive being frozen solid.
  • No Body Left Behind: The blob completely absorbs its victims, flesh, cloth and bones. Whether it’s transforming the victim into it like in the original or dissolving them, like in the remake.
  • Noisy Nature:
    • A sewer rat squeaks very loudly as it floats past the characters on a broken piece of board.
    • The Blob itself. It somehow growls, shrieks, and squeals at times despite the fact it has absolutely no organs that could possibly be used to make sounds.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Just like the original, the Blob is simply a predator trying to consume.
  • Novelization: A rather decent one by David Bischoff (who also wrote the Novelization for Gremlins 2: The New Batch). The book not only contains elements from the original script, including different character names (such as Meddows being called Bruno Trimble), it even has some scenes told from the Blob's point of view. Somehow.
  • Orifice Invasion: The girl who got drunk by the Jerk Jock didn't have any visible damage or even scream, leading to some... ideas of how it got inside her.
  • Plot Armor: Meg has a ton of it once she's revealed as one of the real protagonists; the Blob usually just menaces her or reaches out with pseudopods at the last moment, instead of just falling on her from some hidden nook like the rest of the victims. A few of her companions - Paul and Eddie - aren't so lucky, caught and digested alive and screaming in front of her.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted. Sheriff Geller comes across as quite reasonable... but unfortunately is one of the Blob's early victims, leaving his churlish deputy, Briggs, in charge. Who also comes around in the end and dies trying to help.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sheriff Geller gives Flagg fair warning that, as a legal adult, if he screws up now, "(he's) in the majors." Later, he quickly figures out that Flagg couldn't have murdered Paul since Flagg didn't have a single drop of blood on him from what was, after all, an extremely gruesome murder, lets him go, and resumes searching for the real killer. To his misfortune, he finds it.
  • Red Shirt Army: The soldiers accompanying the scientists are useless, though their poorer performance compared to the main characters when fighting the Blob might be attributed to the heavy NBC gear they are wearing.
  • The Reveal: The Blob isn't an alien like it was in the original film; it's a biological weapons experiment developed against the Soviets which was launched into orbit because it was too dangerous and ended up crashing back down. The "meteor" that it came down in was actually the satellite it was contained in.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Reverend Meeker has kept a small sample of the Blob at the end.
  • Sequel Hook: The Arborville priest has kept a chunk of the Blob in a bottle, opening the possibility that it could attack again.
  • Shout-Out: To the works of Stephen King. Not only does the plot (government creates a biological weapon which could cause The End of the World as We Know It) bear a passing resemblance to that of The Stand, screenwriter Frank Darabont named two of the movie's characters (Brian Flagg and "Can Man") after two from The Stand (Randall Flagg and Trashcan Man). Additionally, Meg Penny is named after Pennywise from It.
  • Sinister Minister: The final scene shows Reverend Meeker having gone off the deep end, preaching a fire and brimstone apocalyptic sermon... and having kept a small piece of the Blob for the very purpose of starting said apocalypse when "the Lord will give him a sign".
  • Terror at Make-Out Point: This trope is played with. The Jerk Jock has driven to a secluded spot and gotten his date drunk so he can have his way with her. He looks away for a minute, then begins to unbutton her blouse. When he reaches in, the Blob, who has eaten the girl from the far side, out of his immediate view, grabs him and consumes him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Surprisingly rare in this creature feature; however, one of the chief mooks, upon encountering the Blob with his squad, reminds them "We have orders not to shoot!" - just before the Blob consumes him. The others promptly throw the orders out the window and start fighting for their lives.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Meg starts the movie as a happy, innocent cheerleader living an obviously sheltered lifestyle. During the climax, we see her climbing atop a crashed snowmaker truck, firing an M16 full auto against the titular monster while screaming at it, and then setting up a satchel charge to blow up the truck's liquid nitrogen tanks and take the creature with it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The doctor. He didn't hear Paul and Meg's screaming and come running? Ditto the nurse.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Blob becomes an unstoppable juggernaut at the end, laughing at bullets, fire, and physical attacks. But the protagonists manage to (temporarily) hold it off with fire extinguishers and ultimately defeats it by crashing a truck full of liquid nitrogen into its mass, freezing it into quartzlike crystals.

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