Whilst out on a date, two kids (Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut) see something fall from the sky. Upon investigating they find an old man with a strange amorphous substance covering his right hand. They rush him to the local doctor, but things get worse when the substance appears to grow and digest the arm’s owner, and no-one in a position of authority with believe the kids’ story.
Of all the films I’d not seen of Steve McQueen’s, this was perhaps the one I’ve been looking forward to the most, because it looked absolutely terrible. It’s one of those classic 1950s B-Movies with suitably terrible effects and acting performances that aren’t much better, but are tremendously fun to watch today and look back on with nought but mockery on the mind. A meteor lands making a sound like a slide whistle. The monster looks like barbecue-flavoured jelly. And everyone is more concerned with drag racing than the beast taking over their town. In short it’s glorious, ridiculous fun.
So the general premise sees this thing, the eponymous blob, landing in a meteor. Initially it’s about the size of a golf ball and, when the old man who finds it pokes it with a stick, the blob oozes down said stick and latches onto his arm. McQueen, who conveniently plays a character called Steve, finds the man and sees the blob, initially thinking it to be a “big blister” despite it having taken over the man’s whole hand, and thinking that he might be able to remove it. When the old man exclaims he can’t get it off, Steve even says “Here, let me try,” only for the man to just decline, requesting a doctor instead. That’s the thing with this film, the rules of the blob aren’t fully set up by way of the script dodging awkwardly around them. What would have happened had Steve touched the blob whilst it was on the man’s arm? Would he have been stuck to the guy? Could he have broken it in two? I need answers, dammit!
Anyway, Steve takes the man to the doctor, who was just about to leave and head to a conference in the middle of the night. This small detail comes into play later to help all the adults in the town disbelieve anything Steve tells them for various convoluted reasons. The doc looks at the man and sends Steve out to retrieve the meteorite the blob landed in, but on his way he gets distracted by some other kids he overtook driving to the doctor. One of them has apparently crowned himself as the King of racing but, because Steve overtook him, Steve now owns the crown, despite the fact that they weren’t actually racing at the time. Steve now accepts the challenge, but insists the race be performed backwards. Nonsense. And not just nonsense, but non-blob-related nonsense.
I greatly approved of how the film all took place in one night, it’s a conceit I enjoy, but the overall monster was a bit of a disappointment. The problem with a big wobbling ball is it lacks any kind of personality, and just looks comical. It doesn’t look at all scary, just a bit weird, even when it’s killing people. This could of course be due to how inept the victims are, of course. For example, a nurse trips and falls nowhere near the blob, which at this point is about the size of a medium-sized dog, and the camera cuts away, her fate sealed. And the doctor even tries to shoot at it. Glorious.
As always with this kind of film conclusions are jumped to far sooner than could possibly be plausible (“It must have absorbed the old man completely. I don’t know what this is but it needs to be killed immediately.”) and when one attempt at destroying it fails, pretty much all others are dismissed too, such as when a jar of acid does no damage, “Nothing will stop it!” is the presumed outcome. The police are laughably inept (“Earlier it was driving backwards, now it’s monsters!”) but if anything they, and the rest of the adult characters, make this a lot of fun to watch. There’s even some intended comedy from the doctor’s assistant (“Can’t I just dust around the fingerprints?”).
Jane, Steve’s girlfriend, gets essentially nothing to do but scream, mother over the old man’s dog and wait for her dialogue to be ADR’d at a later date, whilst Steve McQueen gives an earnest yet bored performance that fits in with everyone else. They’re all trying, there’s just not a whole lot to work with. Still, I had fun.
Choose Life 5/10