Some films take on a cult status due to their a strange combination of events. With The Blob it was a mixture of B-Movie tropes and one of the early appearances by future mega star Steve McQueen that caught the attention and affection of generations of sci-fi fans around the world. With it screening currently on Mubi it seemed like a good idea to catch up with the movie.
While out on a date, Steve and his girlfriend spot a shooting star close by. The lump of rock that fell to earth is found by an old man. Within it is a mysterious goo that attaches itself to his arm. As it start to drive the old man crazy he is nearly run over by Steve. The couple take the man to the local doctor who cant find an explanation for the rapidly spreading parasite. When Steve goes off to investigate the blob fully consumes the old man and starts to look for further ‘food’. When Steve returns he witnesses the death of the Doctor. Now he is faced with the horror that there is something seriously wrong and that he will have a battle convincing the authorities that something is out there absorbing the local populace.
It is a film very much of its time. It’s a solid B-movie with everything that it entails. The story has elements of Sci-Fi, juvenile delinquents and horror films that were hugely popular at the time. Unlike a lot of other films it doesn’t appear to have any real political message underpinning it. The most you could say is that it is a commentary on American consumerism and how, if left unchecked, could (and has) become an unstoppable force.
Though the special effects now seem a little dated it would have been cutting edge for the time. The blob in its various sizes is actually pretty well brought to life considering it is a red ball of goo. It is used sparingly, probably due to cost, which makes its appearance all the more memorable.
The film is notable as being one of the first film credits of Steve McQueen (credited as Steven McQueen here). He is young and a raw talent at this point of his career. His trademark style and cool are not yet developed. Given his later work where he tended to take on roles that were reserved, here is far more animated. He has a lot of dialogue and is in virtually every scene in the film. It isn’t his best performance by any means but it is a good indication of the screen presence that he would go in to be.
As well as McQueen, the film is on of the first to feature the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. This before his golden period in the sixties. Bacharach provided the opening credits song, It’s a minor piece from the duo and is very much of the period as it is a gimmicky song with, rather oddly, a bit of a surfer vibe to it. The actual soundtrack is the usual fare of pieces to enhance the mood and is pretty unobtrusive.
The Blob is a fun fifties film that stands out due to the central performance, the more than decent effects and the fact that it doesn’t take itself overly seriously,