The Blob


1h 25m 1958
The Blob

Brief Synopsis

A misunderstood teen fights to save his town from a gelatinous monster from outer space.

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Sci-Fi
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 1958
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 10 Sep 1958
Production Company
Tonylyn Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Downingtown, Pennsylvania, USA; Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, USA; Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA; Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, United States; Valley Forge Films Studios, Pennsylvania, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

One evening, at a lovers' lane outside the small town of Dowingtown, teenagers Steve Andrews and Jane Martin see what looks like a shooting star fall to Earth. Hoping to locate the object, Steve and Jane drive through the countryside, while at a nearby shack, an old man finds the mysterious meteorite. After being poked by the old man's stick, the rock cracks open, revealing a globe of gelatinous substance. The old man picks it up using the stick and is horrified when the clear material suddenly attaches itself to his hand and he cannot get it off. He runs screaming into the road and is almost run over by Steve and Jane, who drive him to the home of Dr. T. Hallen. The doctor, who was about to leave for a medical conference, had already called his neighbor, Mrs. Porter, to bid her farewell, and turned out his lights, but when Steve and Jane pound on his door, admits them. Hallen is baffled by the substance, which now covers the moaning man's arm and has turned reddish. The doctor asks Steve and Jane to return to the old man's home to uncover more evidence, while he examines the now-unconscious man. Upon reaching Steve's car, however, the two teenagers are confronted by braggart Tony Gressette and his pals "Mooch" Miller and Al, who are angry that Steve drove by them so quickly on his way into town. Tony challenges Steve to a drag race, and Steve, adroitly figuring out how to beat Tony, agrees on the condition that they race in reverse. Steve wins the race but is stopped and questioned by tolerant police lieutenant Dave, who lectures Steve but then releases him. Steve persuades Tony and his pals to accompany them to the old man's cabin, while at the doctor's office, Hallen, concerned about the spread of the seeming parasite, calls his nurse, Kate, to come in and assist him. In the woods, the teenagers find the empty meteor shell but nothing else, and Tony tries to convince Steve to forget the matter and go to a late-night horror film at the local movie theater. Steve agrees and also acquiesces to Jane's request to take along the old man's little dog. While the teenagers are driving back to town, Kate arrives at the doctor's office and is mystified upon discovering that the old man has disappeared completely. The alien mass has grown considerably in size, and when Hallen sees how large it is, he instructs Kate to throw acid on it, but the liquid has no effect. While Hallen rushes to get his shotgun, the substance engulfs Kate, then goes after the doctor, who has locked himself in his study. Still worried, Steve insists on stopping at Hallen's office and when there is no answer at the door, walks around the house, where through a window he sees the doctor being devoured by the monster. Terrified, Steve and Jane go to the police station, where Sgt. Jim Bert, who has been the butt of several practical jokes by teenagers, dismisses Steve's story. Dave insists on investigating, however, and the foursome goes to the doctor's house. Although there are signs of a struggle in the study, Dave and Bert are convinced by Mrs. Porter that Hallen left town for the conference and decide to wait until the doctor's estimated time of arrival at his hotel to pursue the matter. While the police are calling the teenagers' parents, a mechanic is eaten by the ever-growing monster. Steve's father believes that his son is genuinely disturbed about something, but Jane's irate father, the high school principal, orders Steve never to see Jane again. Determined to find out what is going on, however, the young couple sneak out of their homes and reaffirm their belief in each other. They then persuade Tony and several others to leave the movies and search for the alien substance. Unknown to Steve and the others, the mass has grown again, devouring several bar patrons. The group splits up and searches the town, with Jane being relieved to discover the little dog near Steve's father's grocery store. The couple is upset to find that the store is unlocked, and upon entering, conclude that the monster attacked the night clerk. The alien then comes after them, and with nowhere else to go, Steve takes Jane into the meat freezer. Although the mass squeezes under the door, it quickly retreats, and Steve and Jane are able to escape from the store. Steve tells his friends, and when Bert, still thinking that they are pulling a prank, refuses to believe them, they decide that they must alert the town themselves. The teenagers sound off their car horns, the civil defense siren and even the fire station siren, thereby awakening many people and causing them to assemble at the market. Steve's earnestness and fear convince Dave that he is telling the truth, but when the scoffing Bert searches the market, they find no evidence of the monster. Just then, the mass attacks the movie theater, and dozens of people are killed, while others run screaming out into the street. Horrified by the carnage, Dave attempts to clear the area and set up defenses. Jane's young brother Danny, seeing the huge substance coming down the street, shoots at it with his cap gun, and Steve and Jane grab him, taking refuge with him in a nearby diner. The monster then engulfs the diner, trapping Steve, Jane, Danny and the diner's owner and waitress. Dave concocts a plan to kill the mass by electrocuting it, and although Bert succeeds in shooting a power line, the high voltage has no effect on the alien. Hiding in the diner's cellar, the owner notices that the power line has started a fire, and when he attempts to put it out with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, Steve observes that the encroaching alien retreats from the freezing spray. Realizing that cold stops the monster, Steve yells at Dave to get as many extinguishers as possible. Led by Jane's father, who breaks into the high school to get twenty extinguishers, the town citizens soon cover the mass with the spray and freeze it. A relieved Steve, Jane and Danny are reunited with their parents, and Dave assures Steve that the military is going to transport the monster to the Arctic, where it will remain frozen and incapable of causing more harm.

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Sci-Fi
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 1958
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 10 Sep 1958
Production Company
Tonylyn Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Downingtown, Pennsylvania, USA; Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, USA; Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA; Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, United States; Valley Forge Films Studios, Pennsylvania, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Articles

The Blob (1958)


You could hardly enter a theatre in the 1950s without encountering a movie featuring giant fauna or hostile alien visitors, but even among such tough competition The Blob (1958) stood out. Maybe it's because of that title: not mutant ants, not giant scorpions but a blob! Perhaps it was the absurd premise; after all, how do you fight a blob? Or was it because of the hot rod hero, Steve McQueen, in his first starring role? Whatever the reason, The Blob still warrants repeated viewings for its unusual plot, unconventional monster and pure camp appeal.

The real hero of The Blob is tough guy Steve Andrews (played by a 28-year-old Steve McQueen). During down time between drag racing stunts, Steve and girlfriend Jane (Aneta Corsaut, best known as Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show) watch a meteor fall to the ground where it starts oozing purple-pinkish glop. So far so icky but this freak of nature takes a more sinister turn when Steve sees it absorb a way-too-curious old man (Olin Howlin) who had been poking at it with a stick. When Steve tries to warn the responsible adults in his town, he is dismissed as the boy who cried "blob." None of them believe his fantastic story about this ever-expanding alien mass that continues to consume the local residents one by one. So Steve and Jane have to come up with a solution on their own.

The Blob was the work of producer Jack H. Harris and director Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. based on an idea from one Harris' friends. Yeaworth was a former child radio singer who later began producing movie shorts with religious themes (today he designs theme parks). He knew Steve McQueen through the actor's wife, Neile Adams, an actress in one of his films (Steve used to visit her on the set) but it wasn't until seeing McQueen on a live TV show that Yeaworth thought of him for the lead role in The Blob. The director thought McQueen was a bit too old for the part and the actor agreed but they both realized he was perfect for the role. McQueen was paid $3,000 and was billed as "Steven" for reasons lost in time (one story is that he wanted more screen space, another is that he thought "Steven" sounded more mature).

Most reports state that the film was budgeted at $240,00 but Yeaworth confirms it was $120,000; in any case the production costs were certainly rock bottom, even for a B movie. The Blob was filmed mainly at Valley Forge Film Studios in Pennsylvania but there were a few other local locations that can still be visited by fans of the film. (One of the towns used for filming supposedly has a Blob Museum). Shooting took a speedy three weeks. Since there was little money for special effects, the producers were fortunate to have Barton Sloane as their "monster maker." He developed a blob compound that would flow slowly without sticking to everything in its path. Some effects were done by placing blob material in miniature sets or even on a still photograph but so skillfully that this is rarely noticeable.

According to producer Jack H. Harris in Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makes by Tom Weaver, "Vegetable coloring gave it [The Blob] the red color; it got redder and redder as it grew and consumed more people. One thing we never resolved was, how do you keep the color in there? We just had to keep mixing it, like cake batter, otherwise it would all settle to the bottom. The most we worked with was about a washtub full. Naturally we couldn't afford to cover a diner with the Blob, so what we did there was photograph the diner through a bent bellows to give it dimension. To correct any minute flaws we enhanced the photograph with touch-up and air-brushing. We then mounted it on plywood, set it up on an eight-foot-square gyroscope-operated table and tied cameras to the table, rock-steady. Then we were able to move the table in any direction we wanted; the Blob, of course, would always follow gravity. When we wanted the Blob to jump on the "diner," we put it there and got it to jump off with a quick movement of the table. That footage, shown in reverse, gave us our effect."

Harris and Yeaworth planned on distributing the film themselves but Paramount picked up the distribution for $300,000, giving the filmmakers an instant profit. Paramount added a theme song by two unknown songwriters named Burt Bacharach and Mack David (brother of Bacharach's future collaborator Hal). The song was performed by The Five Blobs (actually just vocalist Bernie Nee overdubbing himself) and spent three weeks in the Top 40 late in 1958.

By the way, the movie briefly glimpsed in the theatre before The Blob invades the projection booth is real. Although it appears on the movie marquee as Daughter of Horror (1955), it was originally released as Dementia (1953). Depending on which version you're seeing, one of them features a voice-over by Ed McMahon! You can pick up a DVD with both edits and extensive background info from Kino International.

Fourteen years after The Blob there would be a sequel - Beware! The Blob (1972) - that picks up where the original ended. Oddly enough, it was directed by Larry Hagman (he played J.R. on the TV series, Dallas). And thirty years later a surprisingly good remake appeared - The Blob (1988) starring Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith. One real curiosity is Blobermouth (1990) which has comedy group The L.A. Connection providing their own dialogue over the original film.

Producer: Jack H. Harris
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
Screenplay: Kate Phillips, Theodore Simonson, Irving H. Millgate (story)
Art Direction: William Jersey, Karl Karlson
Cinematography: Thomas E. Spalding
Special Effects: Bart Sloane
Film Editing: Alfred Hillmann
Original Music: Ralph Carmichael, Burt Bacharach (theme song), Mack David (theme song)
Principal Cast: Steve McQueen (Steve), Aneta Corsaut (Jane), Earl Rowe (Police Lieutenant), Olin Howlin (Old Man), Alden 'Stephen' Chase (Dr. T. Hallen), John Benson (Sergeant Jim Bert), Lee Paton (Kate).
C-83m. Letterboxed.

by Lang Thompson
The Blob (1958)

The Blob (1958)

You could hardly enter a theatre in the 1950s without encountering a movie featuring giant fauna or hostile alien visitors, but even among such tough competition The Blob (1958) stood out. Maybe it's because of that title: not mutant ants, not giant scorpions but a blob! Perhaps it was the absurd premise; after all, how do you fight a blob? Or was it because of the hot rod hero, Steve McQueen, in his first starring role? Whatever the reason, The Blob still warrants repeated viewings for its unusual plot, unconventional monster and pure camp appeal. The real hero of The Blob is tough guy Steve Andrews (played by a 28-year-old Steve McQueen). During down time between drag racing stunts, Steve and girlfriend Jane (Aneta Corsaut, best known as Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show) watch a meteor fall to the ground where it starts oozing purple-pinkish glop. So far so icky but this freak of nature takes a more sinister turn when Steve sees it absorb a way-too-curious old man (Olin Howlin) who had been poking at it with a stick. When Steve tries to warn the responsible adults in his town, he is dismissed as the boy who cried "blob." None of them believe his fantastic story about this ever-expanding alien mass that continues to consume the local residents one by one. So Steve and Jane have to come up with a solution on their own. The Blob was the work of producer Jack H. Harris and director Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. based on an idea from one Harris' friends. Yeaworth was a former child radio singer who later began producing movie shorts with religious themes (today he designs theme parks). He knew Steve McQueen through the actor's wife, Neile Adams, an actress in one of his films (Steve used to visit her on the set) but it wasn't until seeing McQueen on a live TV show that Yeaworth thought of him for the lead role in The Blob. The director thought McQueen was a bit too old for the part and the actor agreed but they both realized he was perfect for the role. McQueen was paid $3,000 and was billed as "Steven" for reasons lost in time (one story is that he wanted more screen space, another is that he thought "Steven" sounded more mature). Most reports state that the film was budgeted at $240,00 but Yeaworth confirms it was $120,000; in any case the production costs were certainly rock bottom, even for a B movie. The Blob was filmed mainly at Valley Forge Film Studios in Pennsylvania but there were a few other local locations that can still be visited by fans of the film. (One of the towns used for filming supposedly has a Blob Museum). Shooting took a speedy three weeks. Since there was little money for special effects, the producers were fortunate to have Barton Sloane as their "monster maker." He developed a blob compound that would flow slowly without sticking to everything in its path. Some effects were done by placing blob material in miniature sets or even on a still photograph but so skillfully that this is rarely noticeable. According to producer Jack H. Harris in Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makes by Tom Weaver, "Vegetable coloring gave it [The Blob] the red color; it got redder and redder as it grew and consumed more people. One thing we never resolved was, how do you keep the color in there? We just had to keep mixing it, like cake batter, otherwise it would all settle to the bottom. The most we worked with was about a washtub full. Naturally we couldn't afford to cover a diner with the Blob, so what we did there was photograph the diner through a bent bellows to give it dimension. To correct any minute flaws we enhanced the photograph with touch-up and air-brushing. We then mounted it on plywood, set it up on an eight-foot-square gyroscope-operated table and tied cameras to the table, rock-steady. Then we were able to move the table in any direction we wanted; the Blob, of course, would always follow gravity. When we wanted the Blob to jump on the "diner," we put it there and got it to jump off with a quick movement of the table. That footage, shown in reverse, gave us our effect." Harris and Yeaworth planned on distributing the film themselves but Paramount picked up the distribution for $300,000, giving the filmmakers an instant profit. Paramount added a theme song by two unknown songwriters named Burt Bacharach and Mack David (brother of Bacharach's future collaborator Hal). The song was performed by The Five Blobs (actually just vocalist Bernie Nee overdubbing himself) and spent three weeks in the Top 40 late in 1958. By the way, the movie briefly glimpsed in the theatre before The Blob invades the projection booth is real. Although it appears on the movie marquee as Daughter of Horror (1955), it was originally released as Dementia (1953). Depending on which version you're seeing, one of them features a voice-over by Ed McMahon! You can pick up a DVD with both edits and extensive background info from Kino International. Fourteen years after The Blob there would be a sequel - Beware! The Blob (1972) - that picks up where the original ended. Oddly enough, it was directed by Larry Hagman (he played J.R. on the TV series, Dallas). And thirty years later a surprisingly good remake appeared - The Blob (1988) starring Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith. One real curiosity is Blobermouth (1990) which has comedy group The L.A. Connection providing their own dialogue over the original film. Producer: Jack H. Harris Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. Screenplay: Kate Phillips, Theodore Simonson, Irving H. Millgate (story) Art Direction: William Jersey, Karl Karlson Cinematography: Thomas E. Spalding Special Effects: Bart Sloane Film Editing: Alfred Hillmann Original Music: Ralph Carmichael, Burt Bacharach (theme song), Mack David (theme song) Principal Cast: Steve McQueen (Steve), Aneta Corsaut (Jane), Earl Rowe (Police Lieutenant), Olin Howlin (Old Man), Alden 'Stephen' Chase (Dr. T. Hallen), John Benson (Sergeant Jim Bert), Lee Paton (Kate). C-83m. Letterboxed. by Lang Thompson

Quotes

Doctor, nothing will stop it!
- Kate, the nurse
Just because some kid smashes into your wife on the turnpike doesn't make it a crime to be 17.
- Lieutenant Dave
I think you should send us the biggest transport plane you have, and take this thing to the Arctic or somewhere and drop it where it will never thaw.
- Lieutenant Dave
At least we've got it stopped.
- Lieutenant Dave
Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold.
- Steve Andrews
There must be a house nearby.
- Steve Andrews
No, Sounds more like a dog.
- Friend
It's in there! It's in there! I wish I were kidding. It's in there!
- Steve Andrews

Trivia

The last time 'McQueen, Steve' was billed as "Steven".

The monster is referred to as "the mass" in the shooting script.

Partially filmed in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The theater everyone is seen running from is the Colonial Theater.

The movie being shown at the Colonial Theatre was "Daughter of Horror", originally released as Dementia (1955).

The Colonial Theatre sequence shows a poster for a film titled "The Vampire and the Robot". Although this was one of the proposed U.S. titles for Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952), the movie is a phoney. It is a doctored poster for Forbidden Planet (1956)

Notes

The film's title appears after all of the opening cast and crew credits. The onscreen credits state that the film is "A Tonylyn Production," but list the copyright holder as Tonylynn Productions, Inc., which is how the production company is listed in materials deposited for copyright. In the actual Copyright Catalog, however, the copyright holder is listed as Paramount Pictures Corp. At the end of the picture, the words "The End" transform into a question mark. In the film, the alien substance is never actually referred to as "the blob."
       In interviews conducted for the film's release on a special collector's edition DVD in 2000, producer Jack Harris and director Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. state that the film's working title was The Molten Meteor. Harris related in the interview that he hired McQueen after seeing him fill-in for actor Ben Gazzara in the hit Broadway play A Hatful of Rain. The Blob marked the only time that McQueen was billed onscreen as "Steven," and although some sources state that McQueen made his motion picture debut in the film, he had appeared in two earlier films, Somebody Up There Likes Me and Never Love a Stranger (see below), and, according to modern sources, had been an extra in the film Girl on the Run.
       As noted in the onscreen credits, the picture was shot at the Valley Forge Films Studios in Pennsylvania. Modern sources add the nearby towns of Chester Springs, Downingtown and Phoenixville as locations for exteriors. Yeaworth and Harris both related that "the blob" was mostly made from silicone. According to modern sources, the special effects for the film took from six to nine months to complete, whereas filming of the actors took only thirty or thirty-one days.
       In a April 29, 1988 Los Angeles Herald Express article, Harris listed the film's budget as $147,000. The picture, which was produced without a distributor being set, was sold outright upon completion to Paramount for $300,000, according to modern sources. In a September 19, 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, Paramount anticipated that the low-budget film would return "a domestic gross of at least $1,500,000."
       Yeaworth and Harris noted in their DVD interviews that Ralph Carmichael's original score over the film's credits was abandoned by Paramount in favor of the title song, written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David (who are not credited onscreen). Although the film's pressbook credits "The Five Blobs" with singing the popular song over the onscreen credits, modern sources assert that the "group" was actually singer Bernie Knee performing several tracks. The picture shown in the movie theater sequences in The Blob is the 1955 independent film Dementia (see below). That film, the rights to which had been acquired by Harris in 1957, had been retitled Daughter of Horror by him.
       Harris, who had worked for many years as a motion picture distributor, made his debut as a producer with The Blob. Although several modern sources claim that The Blob marked the feature-length directorial debut of Yeaworth, Yeaworth directed and co-produced the 1956 Truman Enterprises, Inc. feature The Flaming Teenage (see below). Yeaworth and Harris worked on two more films together, the 1959 picture The 4D Man, and 1960's Dinosaurus! (see below). The Blob marked the film debut of Robert Fields and was the only theatrical film in which popular television and theater actor Earl Rowe (1920-2002) appeared. Aneta Corseaut (1933-1995) made her screen acting debut in the picture and although she appeared frequently on television, made only minor appearances in two later motion pictures. The Blob also marked the final picture of longtime character actor Olin Howlin (1886-1959).
       According to a November 2, 1964 Daily Variety article, Harris bought the rights to The Blob back from Paramount, and the picture was distributed by Allied Artist on a double bill with Dinosaurus! in mid-November 1964. A sequel to The Blob, entitled Beware! The Blob, was produced in 1972 by Jack H. Harris Enterprises. Directed by Larry Hagman, the picture starred Robert Walker, Jr. and Gwynne Gilford and is also known as Son of the Blob. In 1980, The Blob and Beware! The Blob were reissued as a double feature. The original film was remade in 1988 as The Blob, which was directed by Chuck Russell and starred Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith. In 1990, L.A. Connections Productions made Blobermouth, a motion picture of one of the comedy improv troupe's plays, in which the original film was projected onto a screen without any sound and actors sitting in the front row of the theater would provide their own dialogue, music and sound effects. The company continues to present its theatrical version. In December 2005, Paramount Pictures planned a new remake of the original film, to be produced by Scott Rudin and Harris as an action-comedy, but as of spring 2007, that project had not been realized.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall September 1958

First featured role for Steve McQueen.

Remade in 1988 with the same title directed by Chuck Russell.

Released in United States Fall September 1958