The Thin Blue Line: A Radical Classic By Charles Musser
Inside the Pink Stable By Chuck Stephens
Has there ever been a more pliable villain than the title character in The Blob? The sticky star of Pennsylvania minister–turned–movie director Irvin S. Yeaworth’s 1958 cult classic—one of the titles highlighted in this week’s festival of free Criterion films on Hulu, all of which were later remade—oozed its way into viewers’ hearts again in 1988. There’s just something about that unlikable lump of goo: faceless, mindless . . . timeless.
Made of silicone and red dye, the blob makes its most memorable entrance when it seeps from a projection booth into a movie theater crowded with thrill-seeking teens. This was shot in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania’s Colonial Theater, a still vital cinema that every summer hosts the special event Blobfest (this year’s dates: July 13–15!), complete with a “Run Out,” in which moviegoers are encouraged to emerge in a screaming panic from the theater’s front doors. Check out the original movie theater scene below, a master class in slime.
For his higher-budgeted 1988 remake, Chuck Russell restaged the movie-house climax on a set (Frank’s Theatre, in Abbeville, Louisiana, provided the exterior); commissioned a creature—this time with tendrils—from effects designer Lyle Conway (who had fashioned the man-eating plant for the Little Shop of Horrors remake just two years earlier); and upped the gore quotient considerably. Though state-of-the-art at the time, the effects are still relatively low-tech, pre-CGI, and all the more tactile for it.