30 October 2015

+JMJ+

Thirteen Things about The Blob (Remake)

13. After almost two decades of Slasher domination, it's downright refreshing to find a Horror movie that offers really creative kills by a killer which has absolutely no malice in its body and no face to make it even slightly sympathetic. The mysterious blob from space is just doing what blobs from space are meant to do. And when we defend ourselves and our loved ones from it, we're just doing what we are supposed to do.

Ah, if only it were that simple . . .

12. As a fan of the cult classic original, which I've already featured here as a Friday Night Movie (Remember those days?) and in a Locus Focus, I was surprised to enjoy this remake as much as I did. Not only are most of its kills downright charming, it also simultaneously stays faithful to and puts a new spin on much of what it borrows from its predecessor. Take the "adults vs. teenagers" conflict: this time around, there is only one teenager who is always suspected of causing trouble. Everyone else gets to be a "good kid." That is, until the blob comes to change the town's social dynamics. (Few things in life are scarier than disrupted social dynamics.)

11. There is one other teenager who sees the blob in action and lives--but when the police hear her out, they decide she is "hysterical," and her own parents aren't buying her story about a blobby pink "thing" that kills people without leaving a trace. (What? Would you?) And of course it is as this point that she decides to join forces with the town's official outsider. Because she is now an outsider, too. It's a great chicken-and-egg issue that The Blob subtly brings into play.

10. You know what The Blob isn't at all subtle about, though?

Tentacles!
(I almost typed "Tongues!")

I'm not really thrilled about this development. Tentacles are limbs and limbs aren't properly blobby. But this is just an aesthetic concern.

9. Back to the human element . . . I must say that we see the influence of a very different Horror classic in the scene where the distraught girl's mother tries to get her to take a sleeping pill. Of course I refer to A Nightmare on Elm Street, which took "adults vs. teenagers" to a whole new level. But there is more going on here than just grosse Leute not seeing things as they are. (And there's the Kleiner Prinz connection! LOL!) When the girl confronts her mother over the latter's refusal to believe her, the response she gets is, "You're home now. You're safe. That's all that matters." Indeed, when we outgrow "adults vs. teenagers," we all still have to wrestle with "truth vs. security."

8. And well, this remake of The Blob actually can be taken as a satire of security threats . . .

"A government-sanctioned biological containment team"

. . . and a national government's response to them.

Don't limit yourself to when the scientists with guns show up. ("Scientists with guns" . . . Oh, man.) It starts with the alien motif, and the alien motif starts not with the blob itself but with the town misfit. Isn't it so much easier to take down a threat when you've already divided the population into the "good guys" (usually us) and the "bad guys" (usually them)? Never mind that that makes it a completely made-up threat. A threat is a threat is a threat. Now where are my scientific guns???

7. In fairness, the blob is an actual threat worth taking seriously. But it has two major things in common with the made-up threats. The first is a spoiler that you'll need your Secret Decoder Rings to read: the blob turns out to be less of an alien invader than a chicken coming home to roost. (Apparently, it was as obvious back in 1988 as it is today that the biggest threats to the superpower countries were almost always set in motion by their own policies. But if we didn't learn from history then, we probably aren't learning from history now.) The second is the reality that "us vs. them" games always leads to human sacrifice. Leave it to the Horror movies to get everything right.

6. Well, okay, not everything. I'm a huge fan of 80s hair, but even I can't overlook how awful our two leads' hairstyles are.


Who wore it worse?

So Brian has got a mullet and Meg has got . . . something else that is long in the back and short on top. (No comment on the roots.) I really do wonder how much of the remake's obscurity has to do with how embarrassing the hair is.

5. Granted, stuffing the national security angle in there did it no favours, either. As impressed as I am with it, I can see that it's mostly a gimmick--something that made it in because it was politically relevant and could set the remake apart from the original. Yet the closer the 1988 version sticks to the 1958 film, the better it does.

4. Take the redo of the classic Colonial Theatre scene. This time, instead of an obscure auteur film, we get a lowest-common-denominator Horror homage. Guess which franchise is featured! (Hint: it's not A Nightmare on Elm Street. And yes, this is a hint.)

It's kind of sad that The Blob itself never became a proper franchise. It's not quite the stuff of which Slashers are made, but I can see it taking a similar trajectory to that of Final Destination. Same "monster," but different humans; maybe a recurring character or two.

3. And the humans must be different in the sequel because the small town setting is integral to our original characters. Take Meg: a good daughter, a protective older sister, a sweet girlfriend, a popular student, and a compassionate neighbour who won't take "You're safe now. That's all that matters" for an answer. It is because she is all those things that seem so ordinary or even silly that she finds herself in my absolute favourite frame in the entire film . . .

That's a white cloud of virtue you see there

Sometimes a princess can hold off a dragon while her unlikely knight in black leather finds a new white charger. And if you're the sort who likes physical courage in female characters (though I hope you don't sell moral courage short while you're at it), I can assure you that it just gets better from there.

But it's also because Meg is all the aforementioned things that she just isn't going to be defined by this one-time experience. She won't be a Nancy or a Sidney, doggedly tracking down her old demons--nor a Laurie, relentlessly pursued by one--nor a Ripley, becoming an authority on it. Meg is a happy small-town girl showing a monster that nobody gets away with making her beloved home the proverbial "wrong place at the wrong time."

2. The one recurring character in our hypothetical sequel would definitely be the reverend. For spoilery reasons. And also because the only thing that tops the authorities playing "us vs. them" is the authorities playing God.

1. Some of you may remember that I like looking for "family-friendly" Horror, because I believe a little bit of Horror, once in a while, does children good . . . and because it's nice for families to watch movies together. But does the presence of two school-aged boys in The Blob mean that their real-life counterparts are part of the target audience? Well, no, inasmuch as it bears an R rating. And yet inasmuch as the main thing these boys do in the movie is sneak into another R-rated flick, yes, they're going to love this one. Caveant parentes!

Image Sources: a) The Blob (Remake) poster, b) Brian Flagg, c) Meg Penny

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