When people talk about the best horror remakes of all-time there are typically a few guaranteed to make the top of the list every time — John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986), and Chuck Russell’s The Blob (1988). While those first two are considered to be a bit more serious, The Blob is a glorious B-movie working with a relatively respectable budget, and therein rests a lot of its considerable charm.
Scream Factory recently released a fantastic Blu-ray of the film featuring a ton of new interviews shining light on various aspects of the production, and it also includes three commentary tracks. An older one features Russell with Ryan Turek, a new one features star Shawnee Smith, and the third is a new track moderated by filmmaker and superfan Joe Lynch (Mayhem, 2017).
Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for…
The Blob (1988)
Commentators: Chuck Russell (director/co-writer), Mark Irwin (cinematographer), Tony Gardner (special effects artist), Joe Lynch (filmmaker/moderator/all-around good guy)
1. Lynch credits this version of The Blob with instigating his own film career. “I was so influenced by this film when it came out on August 5th, I saw it at 3:10p at the Brookhaven Multiplex on Long Island, and it changed my life.” He wrote a script for The Blob II when he was twelve.
2. Russell and co-writer Frank Darabont first connected in the early 80s when they worked together on the under-appreciated Hell Night (1981). Darabont was a production assistant, and Russell was a producer.
3. The writing duo brought The Blob to New Line Pictures, but the studio passed. They were instead brought on for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987).
4. Lynch loves the misdirect that ends the opening credits as all those shots of what look to be an empty ghost town are revealed instead to be because everyone’s at the high school football game.
5. The bit involving the teen who bought condoms at the pharmacy only to discover the girl’s father was the pharmacist was based on a real event from Russell’s high school years.
6. Paul (Donovan Leitch) is set up as the hero in what Russell intended as a Psycho-like misdirect.
7. Reverend Meeker is played by Del Close who previously starred in Beware! The Blob (1972) as Hobo Wearing Eyepatch.
8. The character name Brian Flagg (played by Kevin Dillon) is sadly not a nod to Stephen King’s universe.
9. “It’s a waterboarding visual effect,” says Russell in regard to the shot of the blob pulling over Paul’s face. It’s really Leitch beneath it, and it reportedly feels like you’re suffocating.
10. They also kept Shawnee Smith (who plays Meg) off set while rigging the shot so that her first glimpse of Leitch screaming beneath the blob was the one they caught on camera.
11. They refer to Paul McCrane (who plays Deputy Bill) as “the melty guy,” but not everyone gets the Robocop (1987) reference.
12. They didn’t have a lot of rules for the blob, but they agreed the general concept of the creature was it being an inside-out stomach meaning the acid is burning, melting, and devouring almost everything it touches.
13. Lynch makes the case that the poster for It Follows (2014) showing the profile of the car was inspired by the shot at 30:00.
14. The film was finished May 26th, 1988 and released on August 5th, 1988.
15. The overhead shot in the phone booth where the blob explodes against Fran (Candy Clark) at 46:24 was accomplished using a three-foot phone booth model, an articulated doll of Clark, and air mortars blasting her.
16. While Paul is meant as the Steve McQueen misdirect and Brian is offered as bad boy alternative, “Shawnee is ultimately the Steve McQueen character, if there is one.”
17. Russell mentions recently training an Indian performer for motorcycle action, and that comment led me to the realization that he directed an Indian action movie last year called Junglee (2019). What?!
18. The big stunt beat with Brian jumping the ravine on his motorcycle while a helicopter flies overhead and a truck crashes was all captured in-camera with all of those elements actually in the shot.
19. Both tires blew out on the motorcycle when it landed, and the stunt double “held the bike up with his upper body strength and his fucking feet.”
20. “A lot of the blob juice was made out of methocel,” which is both unbelievably slippery and a thickening ingredient for milkshakes.
21. Russell is a big advocate of storyboarding shots in advance. “When I first came to California, I gate-crashed Universal when Hitchcock was still working, went into Hitchcock’s office, said I’m here to see Mr. Hitchcock, and I could see him working with a storyboard artist.”
22. Lynch recalls a rumor stating that the end credits used to feature a disclaimer saying “The Blob contains a purely fictional account of a group of ruthless and corrupt military agents. These characters do not represent the United States government, and it would be erroneous and unfair to suggest they do. The vast majority of North American armed forces personnel have demonstrated the utmost moral sense, regard for civilian welfare, and worthiness of the public trust.” They don’t think it’s true.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“The blobinator! Goddamn that’s good.”
“This was treated like an independent film, and honestly the release was treated like an independent film.”
“It looks the fucking Dirty Dozen and shit!”
“This quickly becomes a cautionary tale for misogynists.”
“The advertising department doesn’t listen to filmmakers.”
“If you ever want to see a little bit of all the movies you’ve ever seen, go to Griffith Park.”
“Kudos to whoever in the sound design decided to put nunchuk sounds for the tendrils coming down.”
“You mean the blob anus? It’s a little anusy.”
This is a great track for a fantastically fun movie, and while Russell and friends offer some interesting anecdotes and production details the big draw just might be Lynch’s unabashed love for The Blob. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his gratitude to these guys and their film is genuine. Re-watch this gem at your earliest convenience, and then give the commentary a listen.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.