The Blob (1988)
Scream now, while there's still room to breathe
I know, I know - "You already did The Blob" - but I didn't do this one. See, Blobby here is one of those movies that every so often crops up again, gets that (at the time) modern flair and set back out. Although the modern audience may act like remakes are new and the absolute worst thing ever, they've been around probably about as long as film's existed in some way or form. Still, I love monster flicks, I love camp, and more than actual remakes themselves I love to see just what's changed between people's takes. For those abundant reasons, it's time for us to once again run screaming in terror over the gooey jello of death and find out if the flavor is delicious or gross.
Well, it's from the 80's so you can bet the vibe is gross. Now, I'm doing a bit of wordplay here - as I don't specifically mean that the movie itself is gross as in bad, I mean gross as in "look at all that blood" sort of gross. Whereas the first had a ill-meaning jello creature, this one is more like some nasty blood pudding out for revenge. Chunky, filled with bits, and with a camera that doesn't shy away. This helps set it apart from the first movie for sure, but also gives a mixed bag of results. On the one hand, way more effects to show off than it's predecessor. On the other hand, far more moments of potential poor effects. These aren't the only changes, but we'll certainly elaborate on them first, because after all this is a monster movie in my book - and that means effects play an important role.
The amped up violence of the blob does lend to it a certain amount of feeling like it had a large budget - but it's also a showing of the times. In the first, I made the comment that the movie was very much a part of it's time period - both in acting, scenery elements (like vehicles), and general presentation for better or worse. In that sense, this one follows quite suit in many regards. Although you could argue that perhaps the location and vehicle elements are a bit more universal now, the characters and hyped up gore levels (earning that R rating) do all but barf late 80's to me, where we got such things as increasingly violent slashers and The Thing. Particularly anything related to dating feels quite time-capsuled to me, but all those decomposing bodies inside the blob, the people getting sucked dry from the inside, and other bloody or gruesome deaths is exactly what I'd expect. Some might have a problem with that - particularly the kid getting got - but I was reveling in the tour de force of the effects department. It's not all rainbows and blood-rain however, and there are some pretty underwhelming shots of the blob in this one - which is ironic, considering how well it felt in the original.
It's not all people getting dissolved on screen and janky goo-tentacles though. There's also a breadth of characters in this, and it's pretty neat to see that it's got a bit of both hero types going on at once - the cheerleader and the young dude. Throughout the coarse of the film though, you can easily identify a character's main trope just by looking at their costumes - the leather bound rad guy, the cheerleader, the jock, the "crazy old dude living in the woods", cops, reverends, all that sort of thing. When the government organization on high gets involved, they bust into the scene in full white contamination gear, giving them that outsider official and dangerous science look. The setting itself is largely somewhat negligible as far as character, although I'd argue that it's meant to be this "anywhere USA" sort of place so that works for it. We do get some variation though - the town, a diner, a sewer, some woods, and of course a swing at the (iconic) movie theater scene.
What good is all the costumes if the actors can't act though? Well, still pretty good if all these cheesy B-grade movies I watch are anything to go by. Here, the acting is pretty decent most times, with a few stand out moments where a facial expression or line delivery really nails it. At the very least, most the characters really don't make you hate them enough that your stay through the run time ever feels unpleasant. The blob, as a character, doesn't work nearly as well as it did in the first and largely just feels like a background thing killing people - which is a sad step down honestly, but largely thematically also sound given the twist this movie provides over the last.
In actuality, I found this movie to have a few decent twists in it, regardless of whether it's intended that way or not. It's constantly playing a game of making you check your "whose safe" bingo cards by killing off people you otherwise wouldn't expect it to, and it really helps amp up the danger levels. The change to the blob also helps cause the movie to remove a bit I do recall being rather bored with from the first - the constant head-banging revolved around making sure I knew what it's weakness is. Here, we see it and maybe connect in our head what it is, and then it's gone until the characters figure it out for themselves in the final conflict. From the viewer standpoint, particularly one whose seen plenty of movies like this where there's a monster that can't be beaten by just any old means, it's always refreshing when the movie doesn't take the time to treat me like it's the very first movie I've ever seen and spell it out every five minutes.
The audio is balanced well, and things are pretty good in that regard. The music works well for it's role in the movie, and although none stuck around with me the ending credits are straight up what I'd expect to exist in any 80's flick even if it had no romantic elements at all. Speaking of romantic elements, there are some in here - some of which I'd call less romantic and more "super creep" - but it's never something that is annoyingly slathered across the screen. It's used as a gag, it's used as a motivation, it's even used to humanize a character a bit more, but it never makes it feel as though it's the sole purpose of the movie or that it absolutely has to be there. In all, I would argue that I found the overly long "look how empty the town is" opening credits scene more annoying - which I'm sure wasn't more than two minutes long, but boy was it a bit of a slow and sad way to start the movie off (with literally nothing happening). I'd also be remiss to mention that the DVD copy I watched it on had some slight muddy quality to the image, but for someone watching it on a normal screen it might not be an issue (whereas on a hundred inches of projector it somewhat is). It's not enough to really be a downer, and is largely only noticeable during the slow opening where all sorts of degraded-film snow appears (intentionally or not I have no clue).
In the end, I'm happy to have watched this one. I might be happier to have watched this after the first, as I don't know how well entertained by the first I would have been in comparison to this one. Neither are particularly bad (or excellent) movies, but this one carries with it much more entertainment for me. The amped up violence for the sake of the time period only gives me more time to appreciate the effects department - although some may prefer the more "wholesome" approach of the first. The flow and acting are pretty decent, and it fits it all into a very nice little package that doesn't overstay it's welcome while iterating on things from the first to make it feel like a different movie despite it's connections - which is certainly something I appreciate.