Tuesday, October 05, 2010

31 DAYS OF FRIGHT: If It Had a Mind, You Could Reason With It

Remakes, remakes, remakes.

With all the hand-wringing and protestations going on with the release of LET ME IN – largely before anybody had seen a frame, mind you – you'd think remakes and "reimaginings" hadn't already been a large part of the Hollywood fright factory.

While I'm not crazy about the latest trend toward remaking stuff that came out when I was in my 20s – mostly because it makes me feel really old – I'll be the first to admit that a good remake, done right, in capable hands can be more than just a ton of fun.

Sometimes, it can even be better than the original.

Give me Carpenter's THE THING or Cronenberg's take on THE FLY any day. And some might consider it blasphemy but I'd probably rather watch Zack Snyder's DAWN OF THE DEAD than Romero's at least half the time. Maybe more.

But perhaps my favorite 80s remake of a dusty old "classic" has to be Chuck Russell's gooey, gloppy version of THE BLOB.

Russell, responsible for the highly entertaining third installment of the ELM STREET series, continues his winning ways with this excellent, inventive, gory, fun horror flick that holds fast to one of Joe Bob Briggs's all-important requirements: "Anybody can die at any time!!!"

Future ENTOURAGE scene-stealer Kevin Dillon stars as the town tough-guy, a leather-wearin', beer-drinkin', motorcycle-ridin', earring-sportin' rebel who inadvertently stumbles upon a drunk who's been "blobbed." This brings him into direct contact with Shawnee Smith (the preggo chick from SUMMER SCHOOL) and Donovan Leitch (son of 60s singer Donovan and brother of thespian Ione Skye). In an excellent twist Leitch, the nominal hero, gets blobbed and Dillon inexplicably gets blamed for the murder.

Soon, the blob is running, err, oozing rampant all over town, gobbling up everything in its path including a diner owner (Candy Clark) and the town sheriff. Dillon and Smith are forced to team up when government "medical experts" quarantine the town in an interesting and effective twist reminiscent of Romero's THE CRAZIES which lets the flick stay true to its roots while also verging into new territory to satisfy us conspiracy-minded viewers.

Eventually Smith and Dillon save the day, but not before we get some excellent deaths, great tough guy standoffs, a killer revision of the famous movie theatre scene, some brilliant acting from ER fav Art LeFleur (TRANCERS, ZONE TROOPERS) as Smith's dad, an appearance by the deceased Jack Nance and fantastic behind-the-scenes work from Dillon's hairdresser who keeps the star's flowing locks from looking mussed as he saves the world from the titular monster and various government baddies.

THE BLOB's $20 million budget is all visible on screen, although some of the matte work is pretty cheesy. However, the sum of the parts more than make up for a few minor gaffes, and the twist ending is effective instead of groanable. Way to go!

And to prove that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, THE BLOB is slated for what I can only assume will be a CGI-packed 21st century update. The much-maligned Rob Zombie had been attached to helm the flick but he has reportedly dropped out of the flick so he can direct the witchy LORDS OF SALEM.

Check out the trailer for the 1988 version below.

1 comment:

Stephen Langlois said...

Wow, thanks for a great review of a forgotten movie. You're right about how remakes get such a bad rap, and yet there are a handful of remakes that are better than the original. The original Blob is great, but it really was made to make a quick buck. The remake is a bit more inventive. Thanks again.