This is that rare exception, the sequel that is often hailed as being better than the original.
Mind you, despite its popularity – and iconic status – the original version wasn’t one of the better films of the fifties Sci Fi boom. On the whole it is a nicely minor film with a few memorable moments.
The remake is clearly a product of the Eighties, and wears its closet-full of influences with pride. It is the blob by way of John Carpenter’s The Thing, with more than a touch of the hysteria, government conspiracies and paranoia of The Crazies (1973), with a Footloose teen bad-boy hero who probably would have been played by Kevin Bacon if they could have got him. And, of course, it all starts with that familiar sequence introducing us to Spielbergian small town America.
This is not your father’s blob, either. We get plenty of shots of it throwing out psuedopods and tentacles, thrusting itself up into volcano-like shapes or crawling across ceilings. There is a grotesque energy to many of the scenes – as when a restaurant worker gets pulled down a drain – that reflects the era of handcrafted ickiness introduced by Alien, The Thing and The Fly, back in the heyday of movie gore. Don’t expect any modern CGI alien to have the same impact.
Perhaps the most interesting development here is that the blob itself has acquired a new origin, one which ties it in more closely to George Romero than to Jack H. Harris.
On the whole, this was one of the better SF horrors of the Eighties, even if it hasn’t quite the luster of some of the better known films. There’s been talk, off and on, for years now of a new remake, but one does have to wonder why.
It’s not like they’re going to make one better than this.
(Film available here.)