The Blob (1988)


Rating 2¾

Directed by Chuck Russell

Written by Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, based on the 1958 film written by Theodore Simonson and Kay Linaker (as Kate Phillips), from a story by Irvine H Millgate

Starring Shawnee Smith (Meg Penny), Kevin Dillon (Brad Flagg), Donovan Leitch (Paul Taylor), Jeffrey DeMunn (Sheriff Herb Geller), Candy Clark (Fran Hewitt), Joe Seneca (Dr Meadows), Paul McCrane (Deputy Bill Briggs), Del Close (Reverend Meeker), Art LaFleur (Mr Penny), Sharon Spelman (Mrs Penny), Michael Kenworthy (Kevin Penny), Ricky Paull Goldin (Scott Jeske), Douglas Emerson (Eddie Beckner) and Beau Billingslea (Moss Woodley)

A meteorite falls to Earth near to Arborville, a small town in Colorado. A strange alien creature emerges from the crash site and terrorises the town. It is first witnessed by an old hobo, who is infected by it. Brad Flagg, a teenage tearaway who has already had previous trouble with the local sheriff, tries to help the old man, who is taken to the local hospital by Meg Penny, a high school cheerleader, and Paul Taylor, her boyfriend and the star player on the high school football team. A military operation led by Dr Meadows arrives soon afterwards, claiming that a virus has been identified, and the town is placed under complete quarantine. As the creature grows ever larger it becomes a race against time to find some way to defeat it.


The original film, an independent production made on a miniscule budget in 1958, is celebrated because it features Steve McQueen in the lead role. Two years later, McQueen appeared in ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and went on to become one of America’s most iconic film stars. This 1988 remake follows the basic premise of the original, but embellishes the story and in the process prefigures ‘The X-Files’, with its theme of military conspiracies and cover-ups.

The film has an old-fashioned feel and harks back to the golden age of 1950s horror and sci-fi, not surprisingly, given its source material. It actually does this rather well and although it lacks a little bit of spark and ends up being a touch pedestrian, there is no denying that it is a largely enjoyable if predictable 90-minutes.

Shawnee Smith, who has the lead role as Meg Penny here and was 18-year-old at the time, is now best known for playing Linda across all six seasons of the popular sitcom ‘Becker’, which ran from 1998 to 2004 on the CBS network, and for playing Amanda Young in the successful ‘Saw’ horror franchise. Kevin Dillon, who plays Brad Flagg, is the younger brother of Matt Dillon. Donovan Leitch is the son of the famous Scottish folk singer Donovan and the brother of the actress Ione Skye. Candy Clark, who plays Fran Hewitt, the owner of the local diner, has starred in several celebrated cult films, including ‘American Graffiti’, ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.

Frank Darabont, who co-wrote the screenplay, went on to direct ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘The Green Mile’ and the acclaimed 2007 horror film ‘The Mist’. The next film made by director Chuck Russell was the hugely successful Jim Carrey vehicle, ‘The Mask’, which grossed over $350 million at the box office.

‘The Blob’ had a domestic box office gross a little over $8.2 million. There was mixed reaction to it and it has a 53% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 15 reviews.

To all intents and purposes, James Gunn remade the film in 2006 as ‘Slither’, although not directly so.

Review posted 27 April 2009


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