The Blob: the Film and the Threat

Thorin and I watched The Blob starring Steve McQueen last week. It’s a 1958 cult classic available as part of the Criterion Collection on HULU. If you have never heard of the film or Steven McQueen or Criterion Collection I encourage you to broaden your horizons.

It was raining buckets. The day begged for an indoor activity. I’m not that Maine mother who says, “Grab your galoshes!” I’m like Doc in Cannery Row—I can’t stand getting my head wet.

Thorin and I came to an agreement. He picked the genre: Scary. I picked the film: The Blob. My other condition was we engage in an after-film discussion.

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Spoiler alerts ahead:

First let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the brilliance of Steve McQueen. McQueen was a troubled, abused and incarcerated youth who became a major film star with great character actor tendencies. His past brought a vulnerability to his tough guy roles onscreen. That said he did The Blob to pay rent.

The title song was composed by Burt Bacharach and Mack David. The swinging lyrics, “Beware The Blob!” threw both Thorin and I into a state of the giggles. The Blob takes place in rural Pennsylvania.  Brief aside: Pennsylvania is generally considered a battleground state.

A 28-year-old McQueen stars as teenager, Steve Andrews. Think Luke Perry in 90210. His girlfriend, Jane Martin, is played by 25-year-old Aneta Corsaut, who you may know better as Miss Helen on The Andy Griffith Show. Thorin recognized her immediately!

The film opens with our co-stars at lover’s lane. While chastely kissing they see a meteor crash. Thorin asked if they were married. First I said yes and then I said, “Actually they’re dating. Did you see the meteor?”

A guy who looks like the actor John Carradine (but isn’t) pokes the meteor with a stick unleashing The Blob which looks like clear goop. He gets it on his hand. It weakens him and causes a lot of pain. It’s hard to muster sympathy for a guy who pokes a meteor.

Soon Steve and Jane come across the guy and they take him to the doctor. This first victim takes forever to consume but the next one goes quickly, screaming the whole time. After that it’s a real feeding frenzy plus the once clear goo is now a pulsating red Jello blob that grows with each ingested body.

Steve and Jane have a heck of a time convincing anyone that there is a disgusting and vile threat to their community. The police think Steve is a pulling a prank and wasting their time. Remember about a year ago when we thought Donald Trump was basically doing the same thing?

Later Steve and Jane investigate the local grocery store because they see the front door is unlocked. Steve explains his concern to Jane with something like: “Mr. So-and-so closes at 9:00pm but he always stays until 10:00 doing blah, blah, blah.”  It’s unnecessary and confusing dialogue that makes Steve seem like a stalker. Once inside, The Blob is hot on their trail. They lock themselves in the store freezer. The Blob begins to penetrate their hideaway through the bottom of the door but suddenly retreats.

The Blob moves on to the movie theater pouring into the audience through the projectionist window ruining everyone’s movie watching experience with the fear of being wolfed down by insatiable red blob. In some lights it looks maybe dark orange. Quick reminder: Tomorrow is Election Day!

Our stars later become trapped in the diner along with the owner and Jane’s little brother who would win both the worst-child-actor and most-annoying-movie-character-ever awards. I just wanted The Blob to teach him a lesson. Thorin commented: “He’s very stinky.”

The Blob starts devouring the entire diner. The fire department instructs all of them to seek shelter in the basement so they can try to electrocute The Blob, but it doesn’t phase it one bit. However the live wire they dropped on the diner starts it on fire. You can tell the fire chief didn’t really noddle that one out. Now Steve, Nancy, the owner and the brother are threatened by both fire and The Blob. FYI, 5 days ago the KKK’s newspaper the Crusader endorsed Trump.

The owner grabs a fire extinguisher to put out the incoming flames and The Blob. “What the heck! The Blob retreats again!” It also retreated in the freezer! Steve looks at the canister seeing it is a CO2 extinguisher! He posits: The Blob doesn’t like cold! He calls—shockingly the phone line still works—the fire chief instructing him to get as many CO2 fire extinguishers as possible.  The young people rally to gather fire extinguishers from all over the town to defeat The Blob. I’d like to pause to offer my opinion on voting for either Jill Stein or Gary Johnson— and I’m speaking directly to Millennials here. It is selfish. Voting your conscience is sometimes a privileged position. Sometimes you must vote for people who aren’t quite as lucky as you.

Once The Blob is subdued with CO2 — an Air Force jet flies it to the North Pole. The film ends on a cautionary note when the words “The End” transform into a question mark. Only if you have time but The New York Times Editorial Board published a piece titled Imagining America on Nov. 9.

The overall message of the film is that people pulled together, putting aside their skepticism to combat a being whose only motivation was to devour everything for it’s own gratification. In other words: “We’re stronger together.”

Although the filmmakers do not agree with the following analysis it has been suggested The Blob is really about the fear of communism and The Cold Ward. I don’t know about that but I bet Putin has Donald Trumps email.

A note from our after-film discussion:

I asked what else they could have used to get rid of The Blob. Thorin offered: “Mr. Freeze and Elsa.” That’s my, boy!

My source: The Blob

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