Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Blob (1988, USA)

Directed by: Chuck Russell
Produced by: Jack H. Harris, Elliott Kastner
Screenplay by: Chuck Russell, Frank Darabont
Story by: Irving H. Millgate
Based on: The Blob by Theodore Simonson, Kay Linaker
Starring: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark, Joe Seneca
Music by: Michael Hoenig
Cinematography: Mark Irwin
Editing by: Tod Feuerman, Terry Stokes
Studio: Palisades, California Inc.
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Release dates: August 5, 1988
Running time: 95 min
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $19 million
Box office: $8,247,943
Plot: Remake of the 1958 horror sci-fi about a deadly blob from another planet which consumes everyone in its path. A strange lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows. Teenagers try in vain to warn the townsfolk, who refuse to take them seriously. Man is no longer the supreme being on this planet.

Info: The Blob is a 1988 monster horror film written by Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, and directed by Russell. It stars Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark and Joe Seneca. This film is a remake of the 1958 film, The Blob, which starred Steve McQueen.

Screenwriter Frank Darabont first met director Chuck Russell in 1981, while working as a production assistant on the film Hell Night. Before working together on The Blob, the two also collaborated on the script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Actor Del Close had been scheduled to direct a "mock opera" about Ronald Reagan at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts during the filming of The Blob. The opera, entitled Ron Giovanni, was to feature the writing of Tony Hendra and the music of Paul Jacobs in a story that combined details of Reagan's life with the story of Don Juan.



The Blob original 1988 trailer.

Rehearsals were to run during November and December of 1987, with an opening date of January 22, 1988. However, the production was cancelled by Lincoln Center's artistic director Gregory Mosher, out of concern that the show's satire was not as funny and unbelievable as some recent actions performed by the real Reagan, such as the controversy over his visit to the German cemetery at Bitburg housing the bodies of members of the Waffen-SS.

As a result, the Chicago-based Close was unexpectedly available to audition for The Blob in New York at a time when Russell was conducting auditions in the city. Fortuitously for Close, he had recently written a blob-themed story for the DC Comics horror anthology Wasteland, while Russell had just watched an example of Close's work as the in-flight movie on his flight in to New York, Brian DePalma's The Untouchables. Close had worked in the past as a fire eater and human torch, and he was set on fire for some insert shots within the film. He also lost a substantial amount of weight at the request of Russell, dropping from 198 pounds to 173 pounds during the course of the production.

Production began on January 11, with the cast and crew of approximately 150 staying at a Travelodge in Abbeville, Louisiana. Due to the large amount of night shooting, the cast often slept during the day. On off days, they watched videos at the hotel and ate crawfish, a popular item of local cuisine.

The Blob 1988 VHS distributed by TriStar Pictures.
 
Special effects in the film were handled by Tony Gardner. Gardner was originally supposed to provide only a few small effects, but after personnel changes he ended up running a crew of 33, including artist Chet Zar and mechanical effects designer Bill Sturgeon. Close's makeup for his role as Reverend Meeker required extensive preparation time: five and a half hours for scenes where Meeker had fresh burns, and seven and a half hours for scenes after his burns had healed.

The film functions as a conspiracy theory film. The threat of the original film was an alien entity from outer space. The remake differs in making the threat a biological weapon, created by a secret government agency. The Blob is closely followed by soldiers and scientists in protective suits. The change reflects the mentality of a more cynical era. The sinister government agents are opposed by rebellious teenager Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon). His depiction as a rebel and a "tough guy punk" includes wearing a leather jacket, sporting long hair, driving a motorcycle, and distrusting authority figures.

Jacqueline Foertsch argues that the blob of the original film served as a symbol of communist ideology. The more "deathlike" 1980s version served as a metaphor for the AIDS pandemic. The dull-red colors of the original changes here to a glistening, pearly grey. The change makes the creature resemble a mucous membrane. While the original creature rolled and lumbered on, the newer version slides and strikes aggressively, using phallic tentacles.
BeastPop: The Art of Jared Moraitis. This art was featured as a Fright Rags t-shirt design. Jared Moraitis, better known by his alias, “BeastPop" is a North Carolina native. Jared’s work is extremely reminiscent of vintage/ retro illustration and design work, which he has played off successfully repeatedly. He is also known to have done t-shirt artwork design for the metal band The Black Dahlia Murder.
 
The original blob was a singular organism which increased its size, strength, and velocity by feeding. The newer version not only enlarges itself, but also splits into multiple parts. Allowing for simultaneous attacks in multiple locations. Indeed the largest part of the creatures is eventually frozen and contained. But a crazed preacher hoards a few shards, implying the survival of the threat.
Foertsch calls attention to another significant shift from the original. The blob invades the bodies of its victims. Then springs from the remnants of a previous host to seize a new victim. For example, Vicki is infiltrated by the creature and becomes its host. When Scott reaches to touch her breast, the creature emerges to engulf him.

The film was released theatrically in the United States by TriStar Pictures in August 1988. It grossed $8,247,943 at the box office. The Blob received mixed reviews from critics. As of January 17, 2014, it holds a 61% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.8/10.

The Blob had some outstanding makeup affects, thanks to Tony Gardner and his makeup crew.
 
The film was released on DVD in the United States by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in September 2001. It is also scheduled to be released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time in October 2014.

Film Facts: As a Theater patron in the second row, left of center, during the wide shot of the Theater audience reacting to an on-screen fright. Chuck Russell makes a director cameo.

Two minor roles were played by Playboy Playmates. Vicki De Soto was played by Erika Eleniak (July 1989) and Susie was played by Julie McCullough (February 1986).

Bill Moseley has a minor role. He's credited as "soldier no. 2"; he is the panicky, hurt one who Brian and Meg run into in the sewer. The one who says "It got the both of them." Bill is the soldier wearing the bio-medical suit that is trapped in the sewer with the two main characters.

Rock salt was dyed purple to create the crystallized Blob for the ending of the movie.

Of the film's US$19 million budget, US$9 million went toward visual effects.

The motorcycles used by Kevin Dillon in the film are a 500cc T100R Triumph Tiger and a 200cc T20 Triumph Tiger Cub for the jumps.

All of the exteriors for the movie were shot in a small south Louisiana town called Abbeville. Abbeville is laid out almost exactly the same as Arbeville, Colorado, where the movie takes place. Abbeville was used because filming took place in late 1987 and Arbeville was covered in snow. It's just a weird coincidence that the names are so similar.

Mentioned in Bill Watterson's comic "Calvin & Hobbes", when Hobbes asks Calvin if they can watch "The Blob" on TV.

Theatrical trailer shows part of deleted scene in which Fran is chased by the blob through the restaurant. In this deleted scene she is running towards the doors while the blob is knocking down tables and chairs. When she gets to the doors she realizes that they are locked and that she doesn't have a key so she jumps out the window.

The sheriff was named after famous jazz musician Herb Geller.

The Blob Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. This rare CD, featuring music composed by Michael Hoenig, is limited to 2000 copies.
 
The credits at the end of the movie are pink colored to match the monster's color.

Donovan, who plays Paul Taylor, had to have a full body cast made of himself for one of the more complicated scene where Paul underneath the blob. There were about 50 people running the unstrung Paul. However, 'Chuck Russell' did not tell Shawnee Smith it was really Donovan underneath the Blob for the first part of the scene. She believed it was going to be an unstrung person. This was so he could get more of a shock out of her. That is the take that is now seen in the movie when Meg screams out Paul's name upon discovering him.

The film, co-written by Frank Darabont - who has adapted a number of Stephen King's works for the screen - contains several references to King's novel 'The Stand':

• In the novel, a viral "superflu" is engineered by the U.S. government in a biological weapons laboratory that is accidentally unleashed, resulting in a worldwide pandemic; in the film, the blob is likewise the result of experiments in biological warfare accidentally unleashed by the government. Additionally, though the government agents know the blob's true nature, they tell the citizens of Asheville that they are dealing with a highly contagious disease.

The Blob makes the cover of Gorezone magazine, issue #3.
 
• Kevin Dillon plays Brian Flagg; the demonic Randall Flagg appeared in several of King's novels, making his first appearance in THE STAND.

• The blob's first victim, the homeless man, is credited as "Can Man," a reference to the STAND character "Trash Can Man." Trash Can Man was Randall Flagg's most devoted follower; in this film, Can Man shares nearly all his scenes with Brian Flagg.

Michael Kenworthy fondly recalls on-screen sister Shawnee Smith as his first major crush in real life. According to him, "She and I hit it off pretty well... Whenever she went to hug me, I'd give her the hug plus a kiss. That *always* made her blush!"

Shawnee Smith ("Meg Penny") was once asked whether or not the producers remembered to heat the sewer-water she plunged into while fleeing the Blob. Chuckling, she answered, "Well, they TRIED."

Everything that was awesome about 50′s creature feature movies is in this movie and then amplified with pure 80′s cheese. It’s a blast! This version of The Blob is not just a great remake, but is also a very solid, well-made, tremendously entertaining monster movie. As much as I may bitch about the plethora of remakes these days, I wouldn’t mind seeing so many of them if they were all as fun as The Blob.

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