A mysterious creature from another planet, resembling a giant blob of jelly, lands on earth. The people of a nearby small town refuse to listen to some teenagers who have witnessed the blob’s destructive power. In the meantime, the blob just keeps on getting bigger.
A true classic.
This movie is wonderful. What separates it from other 50’s sci-fi is the fact that the alien has no features, no face, eyes, anything, yet it can’t be killed. I especially like the idea that this film doesn’t take place over a few days, it takes place in one night, lasting supposedly past midnight.It’s also scary that once the blob gets on you, you can’t get it off. you’re stuck in it, as it dissolves your flesh and slowly devours your body. My all time favorite 50’s sci-fi film, and what is sometimes considered the quintessential one. I can see why this rocketed Steve McQueen to stardom. All this and a catchy theme song! How can you go wrong?
During one long night in a small rural Pennsylvania town in July 1957, teenager Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and his girlfriend, Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut), are kissing on a lovers’ lane when they see a meteor crash beyond the next hill. Steve decides to look for it. An old man (Olin Howland) living nearby finds it first. When he pokes the meteorite with a stick, it breaks open, and the small jelly-like blob inside attaches itself to his hand. In pain and unable to scrape or shake it loose, the old man runs onto the road, where he is nearly struck by Steve’s car. Steve and Jane take him to Doctor Hallen (Stephen Chase).
Doctor Hallen is about to leave for a medical conference, but anesthetizes the man and sends Steve and Jane back to the impact site to gather information. Hallen decides he must amputate the man’s arm since it is being consumed by the growing Blob. Before he can, however, the Blob completely consumes the old man, then Hallen’s nurse, and finally the doctor himself, all the while increasing in size.
Steve and Jane return to the office in time for Steve to witness the doctor’s death. They go to the police station and return to the house with Lieutenant Dave (Earl Rowe) and Sergeant Bert (John Benson). However, there is no sign of the creature or its victims, and Bert dismisses Steve’s story as a teenage prank. Steve and Jane are taken home by their parents, but they later sneak out.
In the meantime, the Blob consumes a mechanic at a repair shop. The Blob grows in size every time it consumes something. At the Colonial Theater, which is showing a midnight screening of Daughter of Horror, Steve recruits Tony (Robert Fields) and some of his friends to warn people about the menace. When Steve notices that his father’s grocery store is unlocked, he and Jane go inside. The janitor is nowhere to be seen. Then the couple are cornered by the Blob; they seek refuge in the walk-in freezer. The Blob oozes in under the door, but retreats. Steve and Jane gather their friends and set off the town’s fire and air-raid alarms. The townspeople and police still refuse to believe Steve. Meanwhile, the Blob enters the Colonial Theater and engulfs the projectionist before oozing into the auditorium consuming a number of the audience. Steve is finally vindicated when screaming people flee from the theater.
Jane’s young brother, Danny (Keith Almoney), fires at the Blob with his cap gun before running into the nearby diner. Jane, Danny, and Steve become trapped in that diner, along with the manager and a waitress. The Blob—now an enormous red mass from the people it has consumed—engulfs the diner. Dave has a connection made from his police radio to the diner’s phone, telling those in the diner to get into the cellar before they try to bring a live power line down onto the Blob.
When it sounds quiet over the phone line, Bert shoots the wire, it falls onto the Blob, but the Blob is unaffected, and the diner is set ablaze. The manager uses a CO2 fire extinguisher on the fire. Steve notices that this causes the Blob to recoil, then remembers that the creature also retreated from the freezer. Shouting in hopes of being picked up on the open phone line, Steve manages to tell Dave about the Blob’s vulnerability to cold. Jane’s father, Mr. Martin (Elbert Smith), knows there are 20 such extinguishers at the school, and leads Steve’s friends to the high school to retrieve them. Returning, the brigade of extinguisher-armed students and police first drive the Blob away from the diner, then freeze it, saving Steve, Jane and the others.
Dave requests an Air Force heavy-lift cargo aircraft to transport the Blob to the Arctic, where it is parachuted to the ice. Dave says that while the Blob is not dead, at least it has been stopped. To this, Steve Andrews replies with the last line in the film, “Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold.”
The film ends with the words “The End” which then morph into a question mark—suggesting that the Blob may return, ending the film with a cliffhanger.
When The Blob premiered as the B film of the Double with I Married a Monster from Outer Space, it was quickly moved up to feature film status. While audiences liked the film, critics were not as kind. The review in The New York Times highlighted some of the problems and identified some positives, although Steve McQueen’s debut was not one of them. Concentrating on director Irvin Yeaworth’s work, “Unfortunately, his picture talks itself to death, even with the blob nibbling away at everybody in sight. And most of his trick effects, under the direction of Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., look pretty phony.”
The review continued with, “On the credit side, the camera very snugly frames the small town background—a store, a church spire, several homes and a theatre. The color is quite good (the blob rolls around in at least a dozen horrible-looking flavors, including raspberry). If the acting is pretty terrible itself, there is becomingly not a single familiar face in the cast, headed by young Steven McQueen and Aneta Corseaut.”
Variety had a similar reaction, seeing McQueen as the star, gamely “giving the old college try” but that the “… Star performers, however, are the camerawork of Thomas Spalding and Barton Sloane’s special effects.”
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes records that reviewers give The Blob mixed to positive reviews earning an approval rating of 66%. The “critics” consensus stating: “In spite of its chortle-worthy premise and dated special effects, The Blob remains a prime example of how satisfying cheesy B-movie monster thrills can be.”
The Blob’s cult following is alive and well in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania where The Colonial Theatre is located. A yearly celebration named BlobFest features a reenactment of the crowd fleeing The Colonial as well as double feature screenings of The Blob paired with sci-fi creature feature classics.
A sequel, Beware! The Blob, was made in 1972, directed by Larry Hagman. Home video releases used the tagline “The Movie That J.R. Shot”, in reference to his character’s near-demise in the television series Dallas.