The history of horror is long, complicated and typified with a constant flux in taste as fears changed with the flow of world wars and new technologies. In the 1930s, at the dawn of Hollywood cinema, it was the monster movie that dominated the screens, with iconic flicks such as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Invisible Man terrifying audiences. This trend would continue up until the 1950s when movie monsters would become supernatural and radioactive, inspired by the real-life terrors of America’s use of nuclear weapons.
Them! saw giant mutant ants take on the world after a science experiment went wrong, whilst The Thing from Another World toyed with the fear of the unknown enemy and the ‘Red Scare’ of post-war America. The Blob was yet another of these creature features, with the original 1957 film following an alien lifeform consuming everything in its path as it bloats and grows, starring a young Steve McQueen.
A bizarre, yet strangely horrific tale, the titular Blob is a ceaseless purple glob of matter, without a face, nor personality. It is an alien being representing incessant, impersonal evil. It is also a story thought to be inspired by the real-life tale reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer on 27th September 1950, named ‘Flying ‘Saucer’ Just Dissolves’.
The story details a night in which police officers John Collins and Joe Keenen report that they saw a mysterious object fall from the sky whereupon they rushed over and found a purple, jelly-like mass. Calling for backup from two other colleagues, the group of four stated that the purple mass evaporated without a trace. After the FBI was contacted and a press conference was held, the story became a national talking point.
Years later, in 1957, film producer Jack H. Harris wished to make a new monster movie but couldn’t think of a good enough premise. Asking his friend, Irvine H. Millgate, to try and think of one for production, Harris demanded, “It’s gotta be in colour instead of black and white. It can’t be a cheapy creepy, it’s gotta have some substance to it. It’s gotta have characters you can believe in. And there’s gotta be a unique monster—never been done before. And the method of killing the monster would have to be something that grandma could have cooked up on her stove”.
Remembering the reported case that occurred in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Millgate suggested that they borrow from the story, and thus, The Blob was born.
Remade in 1988 by director Chuck Russell, The Blob is a surprisingly effective creature feature that well utilises its titular monster. Functioning as a conspiracy theory film, ‘The Blob’ in the remake is the result of a biological weapon and reflects the mistrust of America in a post-Vietnam society.
Check out the trailer for the remake of The Blob, right here.