“Teenager” Steve McQueen (L) helps police. Image: The Criterion Collection

One of the best things about 1950s sci-fi/horror flicks is their strangeness.

Usually the monsters/aliens come from a strange world unlike our own, and they learn quickly that humans are a fabulous Food Source.

The 1958 cult classic, The Blob, is an excellent example of this wonderful strangeness.

First, the monster in this scifi/horror extravaganza is an alien blob – an actual gelatinous mass – that feeds on living flesh. One might have thought that a jello-y blob would be vegan, but therein lies the danger of Making Assumptions.

Second, the invading blob doesn’t make a sound, not even a squishing noise or burp, as one might expect. It is a Silent Terror.

Third, the blob arrives on earth via meteor, and the town it invades is also strange; it’s one of the politest towns in North America. Sure, there are a few tensions – a police officer thinks he’s being overlooked, and a father is angry when his daughter runs Afoul of Authorities. But the citizens of this town are ultimately cooperative and easily Reasoned With.

(A community without widespread bitterness and strife? Science fiction, indeed.)

Finally, the strangest thing, we think, is the cast. Although the actors are generally pretty good, you can’t help but notice all the “teenagers” in this flick seem to be in their 20s.

Indeed, The Blob appears to be specifically written for adults masquerading as teenagers.

A teenage romance, interrupted. Image: Cult Following

Steve McQueen was 27 years old when he made The Blob, and it was his first starring role. When you watch him on screen, you realize there was no way he wasn’t going to be a Star.

McQueen has an endearing youthfulness about him. Watch him, for instance, with his aw-shucks manner, try to woo Potential Girlfriend Aneta Corsaut (also not a teenager). Yet when it comes time for McQueen’s Showdown with the blob, he’s Mr. All-Business.

Yet, the whole idea of Adults-as-Teenagers gives the impression adults are better film teenagers than actual teens, i.e. here’s how film teenagers should respect their parents; this is how film teenagers should treat their friends. The movie is both condescending and admiring of this demographic at the same time.

Now, The Blob ain’t exactly an Andy Hardy romp, but, curiously, it wasn’t regarded as a Throwback to another era when first released. The 1950s was a time when filmmakers were exploring teenage angst (e.g. Rebel Without a Cause), and The Blob deliberately avoids this minefield. Commentary on teen defiance looks like this, for example:

Police Officer 1: (shrugs) Kids are kids.
Police Officer 2: What does that prove? Every criminal in the world was once a kid.

The script is also a little On The Nose when some of the teens decide to catch the midnight “spooky show” at the local movie theatre. We know the blob will eventually ooze into the theatre during this horror show, and we are not disappointed with the resulting mayhem.

Here, then, is another mixed message: The blob devours the very audience to which it caters. But that’s also why this strange film remains a cult classic.

The Blob runs amok. Image: PopMatters

In The Blob, filmmakers are careful not to show Too Much Too Soon. We first see the blob as a bit of harmless-looking slime, and we don’t see how much it’s grown – shockingly – until later in the film.

According to IMDb, filmmakers fashioned the blob out of red dye and silicone, and, curiously, it has never dried out. You’ll notice, during the film, that the blob becomes an increasingly darker red as it consumes more victims.

But get this! There is an actual Blobfest, held every July in Phoenixville, PA, where some exteriors of the original film were shot. If you keep an eye on ticket sales, you could get in on the annual re-enactment Colonial Theatre exodus:

You know you want to. Image: Imgur

Sources vary, but it appears The Blob was made for an estimated $110,000 US (approx. $1.1M US today), and it grossed $4 million US at the box office ($41.3M US today).

McQueen was offered a 10% share of the profits, but he turned it down in favour of a $3,000 salary because, apparently, he needed the rent money.

If you’ve seen this film, you’ve noticed the astonishing amount of continuity errors in this film. But multiple continuity errors are part of the best sci-fi B-movie traditions, and we mean it.

If you haven’t yet seen The Blob, we hope you’ll track it down. It’s a fun ride in the 1950s’ sci-fi landscape.

P.S. The film, Daughter of Horror (1955), as shown on the ill-fated theatre marquee, is a film about a young woman’s nightmarish experiences on skid row. If you’ve seen it, please let us know your thoughts.

This post is part of THE FAKE TEENAGER FESTIVUS Blogathon, hosted by Taking Up Room.

The Blob: starring Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe. Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. Written by Theodore Simonson & Kay Linaker. Tonylyn Productions, 1958, B&W, 86 mins.

Happily blogging about old movies and using the royal "We".

35 Comment on “Fake Teenagers vs. The Blob

  1. Pingback: Gather in the Drawing Room |

Start Singin', Mac!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: