20 Freaky Facts About The 1988 Remake Of The Blob
The 80s was a great time for a horror movies of many different kinds: slashers, creature features, psychological thrillers and body horror. The decade also saw some great remakes of classic B-movies from the 1950s: John Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly – and last but not least, the 1988 remake of The Blob from director Chuck Russell.
Ramping up the special effects and bringing the concept of the original 1958 movie up to date, The Blob stunned audiences with its gooey special effects and gory violence.
Let’s take a look back at this 80s horror with some facts about The Blob you may not have known.
20. It almost starred another McQueen
In all honesty, 1958’s original The Blob probably wouldn’t be that memorable were it not for two things: firstly, its extremely catchy theme song; second, the fact that it stars a young Steve McQueen.
Given the screen legend McQueen became, when the remake came around there was naturally interest in connecting the new film to the late superstar.
As such, Steve McQueen’s son Chad McQueen – best known as Cobra Kai’s Dutch in the Karate Kid movies – was offered the central role of anti-hero Brian Flagg.
However, the younger McQueen turned the role down as he didn’t like the script, and wasn’t interested in being involved in a reinterpretation of his father’s work.
Fun fact: years later, Chad’s son Steven R McQueen would appear in another horror remake, 2010’s Piranha 3D.
19. There are some sly Stephen King references in the film
The Blob co-writer Frank Darabont would go on to write and direct three of the most highly regarded big-screen adaptations of Stephen King: The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist.
We get some early hints of the writer’s love for King in The Blob, as there are some subtle references to the famed author’s 1978 novel The Stand.
Kevin Dillon’s character Brian Flagg is named after Randall Flagg, The Stand’s central antagonist.
Meanwhile Billy Beck’s unfortunate transient, who shares most of his scenes with Brian, is officially listed as Can Man – a nod to the Trash Can Man, a disciple of Randall Flagg in The Stand.
Coincidentally, The Blob actress Shawnee Smith would go on to appear in the 1994 TV mini-series of The Stand, in which she portrayed Julie Lawry.
18. Director Chuck Russell pitched The Blob before he made A Nightmare on Elm Street 3
Chuck Russell made his directorial debut with 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, which he also co-wrote with Frank Darabont.
This is widely regarded the best sequel in the Elm Street series – but Russell and Darabont actually wrote their script for The Blob first.
As an untested director, Russell tracked down Jack H. Harris, producer of the original 1958 The Blob, to get his approval for a remake.
With Harris on board, things seemed all set – but then Russell was asked to make A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 first, putting The Blob on hold.
Russell would go on to direct Jim Carrey in The Mask, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in The Scorpion King.
17. Actor Del Close has a curious relationship with The Blob movies
1988’s The Blob is actually the third Blob movie, as in 1972 a sequel to the original was produced in Beware! The Blob (also known as Son of the Blob).
The sequel and the remake share an actor in Del Close, who plays the Reverend Meeker in the 1988 film, and had a small role as Hobo Wearing Eyepatch in the 1972 film.
Curiously, when Close was offered the role in the 1988 Blob, he had just come off another related job.
A writer as well as an actor, Close had just penned a comic strip story based on his experiences making Beware! The Blob – specifically, how he had been forced to wear an eyepatch after being scratched by his pet cat.
Within weeks of penning this tale, Close was offered a part in the new Blob movie. (Whether his character was always intended to lose an eye, we honestly don’t know,)
16. The Blob itself was made primarily out of silk
One of the big things that keeps horror fans revisiting films of the 80s is their use of practical special effects, as opposed to the CGI we expect today.
1988’s The Blob is no exception, and it may surprise viewers to learn that one of the key materials used to create the shapeless monstrosity of the title was silk.
FX artist Tony Gardner told Fangoria in 1988 that the Blob was made from “a combination of methacil and silk that’s controllable and keeps its shape.”
Being able to keep the Blob in shape was vital, given the number of bizarre forms it takes throughout the film.
Methacil is a food additive traditionally used as a gravy thickener, and had also been utilised in the special effects on the original 1958 The Blob.
15. The phone booth death scene was done with a miniature
Although CGI was not the dominant SFX form in 1988, Chuck Russell admits they tried using it for The Blob – without success.
The director says his favourite shot in the film was done using a very old school approach, with a miniature.
This is the scene in which Candy Clark’s Fran is trapped in the phone booth as the Blob slowly envelops it from the outside.
Eventually the phone box collapses in under the pressure – and at this point we cut from the real phone booth to a very brief shot of a scale model, with a doll in place of Clark.
Russell reflects, “you don’t get that kind of impact with CGI… it’s good to keep physical effects in the movies.”
14. Shawnee Smith’s reaction to Donovan Leitch’s death scene is genuine
Bit of a spoiler here – but one of the great surprises in The Blob is how the opening scenes set up Donovan Leitch’s Paul as the main character, then he gets killed off shockingly early.
For this scene, a full body cast was made of Leitch for some of the more complex shots.
However, when Shawnee Smith’s Meg finds her boyfriend being consumed by the corrosive pink mass, it wasn’t the body cast under there, but the actor himself.
Under director Russell’s orders, Smith was not informed beforehand that she’d be seeing the real Leitch inside the Blob, in the hopes of getting a genuinely horrified reaction.
This approach would seem to have paid off, as her scream in that moment is reportedly genuine!
13. Donovan Leitch and Shawnee Smith were prom dates in real life
Early on in The Blob, when it looks like football player Paul is going to be the hero, his biggest concern is finding the right time to ask Meg Penny on a date.
As it turns out, actor Donovan Leitch had dealt with that very same issue in real life.
Prior to making The Blob, Leitch and Shawnee Smith attended the same Hollywood high school, and went to prom together.
Years later, the one-time couple were reunited on the set of The Blob.
We can only hope the date went a little better in reality than it does in the movie.
12. Kevin Dillon wears hair extensions as Brian Flagg
There’s one vital piece of make-up FX in The Blob that tends to get overlooked: Kevin Dillon’s hair.
Russell wanted his bad boy biker Brian Flagg to have long hair, which Dillon did not at the time.
As such, the director made the actor get hair extensions put in for the role.
All these years later, one of the few things in that film that has aged particularly badly is that corny mullet.
Russell laughed years later that Dillon “never forgave me” for that hairpiece.
11. Alfred Hitchcock killing off unexpected characters inspired the film
Russell says that he and Frank Darabont took inspiration from legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock when writing the script for The Blob.
This is primarily in reference to Hitchcock’s Psycho, in which Janet Leigh – the most famous actress in the film, set up as the main character in the first 30 minutes – is the first to die.
Darabont and Russell hoped to inspire similar shock from audiences by killing off Donovan Leitch first, after setting him up to be the lead.
Nor did their shock tactics stop there, as, along with Jaws, The Blob is one of the few mainstream horror movies to show a child being killed off.
Russell insists that studio TriStar never had any objection to these decisions.
10. The remake has a very different attitude toward religion than the Christian-funded original
An interesting detail about the original 1958 The Blob is that it was financed by a group of devout Christians, in hope of spreading their message.
The film basically shows the Blob visiting God’s wrath upon rebellious teenage sinners, establishing a format the slasher genre would follow decades later.
By contrast, 1988’s The Blob makes a point of questioning adult authority, and celebrating adolescent rebellion.
We see this in the cruelty and deceit of the government agent Meadows (Joe Seneca), and the ultimately heroic nature of bad boy Brian.
It’s also notable that, in the very last scene, it’s suggested that a religious fanatic may be planning to destroy the world.
9. Two Playboy models make brief appearances
Two actresses who appear in The Blob have also graced the pages of Playboy magazine, the first of these being Erika Eleniak.
Eleniak appears in one the film’s most memorably unpleasant scenes, as a drunk girl whose boyfriend clearly has plans on date rape – until she falls victim to the Blob, which in turn gives him the punishment he deserves.
Eleniak would go on to pose for Playboy in 1989, and later found fame in TV series Baywatch.
The other Playboy model in The Blob is Julie McCullough, who appears in The Blob’s film-with-a-film Garden Tool Massacre, screening at the movie theatre before all hell breaks loose.
McCullough had posed for Playboy back in 1986, and would later appear in Sharknado: Heart of Sharkness.
8. One of the dismembered soldiers was played by a double amputee
As horror movies often feature people suffering loss of limb by various means, the genre tends to employ amputees as featured performers.
Such was the case with Noble Craig, who briefly appears as a government agent left dismembered by the Blob.
Craig was a veteran of the Vietnam war, who lost both legs, one arm and much of his sight in the line of duty.
His film career began in the mid-70s, and he took creature roles in Poltergeist II, Big Trouble in Little China, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and Bride of Re-Animator.
Craig sadly passed away in 2018, aged 69, with six film credits to his name.
7. There’s a cameo from Eraserhead leading man Jack Nance
One major cult film icon makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in The Blob.
Early on when the teens take the infected Can Man to the hospital, the doctor who examines him is played by actor Jack Nance.
Nance was, and remains, best known for playing the lead in David Lynch’s nightmarish directorial debut, Eraserhead.
After appearing in that cult classic, Nance appeared in many more of Lynch’s films, as well as TV series Twin Peaks, before he sadly passed away in 1996.
80s horror fans might also remember Nance’s role in 1984’s Ghoulies.
6. Horror icon Bill Moseley makes an early appearance
Another cult figure who fans might have not known has a part in The Blob is horror star Bill Moseley.
Moseley appears briefly towards the end of the movie in the sewer sequence, as a traumatised member of the shady government agency.
The actor had made his big break in horror two years earlier, with a scene-stealing performance in Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
Today, Moseley is probably best known for playing the fearsome Otis Driftwood in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects and most recently 3 From Hell.
On a related note, Rob Zombie was attached to direct a new take on The Blob for a time, but the project never came to pass.
5. Michael Kenworthy fell for on-screen sister Shawnee Smith
Michael Kenworthy may have only been 13 years old when The Blob came out, but he was already something of a horror movie veteran.
Earlier that same year, Kenworthy had appeared in The Return of the Living Dead Part II.
The Blob wound up being his last movie – but it was also where he developed his first crush, on his on-screen big sister Shawnee Smith.
Kenworthy is quoted as saying, “She and I hit it off pretty well. Whenever she went to hug me, I’d give her the hug plus a kiss. That always made her blush!”
As we’ll see later, Kenworthy isn’t the only person in the film industry with the hots for Smith.
4. There was supposed to be a sequel
Horror franchises were all the rage in the 80s, and there had initially been hopes that The Blob could kickstart yet another.
The film was deliberately given an open ending from which a sequel could easily have been developed.
Once the main story is all wrapped up, an epilogue scene takes us to a tent in a remote dustbowl region, where Del Close’s Reverend Meeker is preaching to his new congregation in somewhat apocalyptic terms.
The final shot shows us that the tiny fragment of the Blob which Meeker had acquired earlier has survived, hinting that he intends to unleash it to bring about the end of days.
Still, no sequel script is believed to have been written, and in any case it didn’t come to pass…
3. It was a box office flop
As so often seems to be the case with horror movies which go on to became cult classics, The Blob was not a hit on release.
Having cost $19 million to make (about half of which went on the FX), it wound up making only $8.2 million on its release to US theatres in August 1988.
Years later, director Chuck Russell would suggest The Blob was hurt by poor marketing, and being released in a “very hectic summer filled with big films.”
Other films out at the same time included Die Hard, A Fish Called Wanda, Cocktail, Young Guns – and, most significantly for the horror audience, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4.
Perhaps ironic, for as you may recall, Russell and Darabont’s last film before The Blob was 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.
2. It helped land Shawnee Smith her role in Saw, because the filmmakers were fans with a crush on her
In the years since The Blob, Shawnee Smith has built up a respectable body of work in the horror genre, not least down to her recurring role in the Saw series.
Smith had been the first choice for her Saw character, Amanda, because the film’s director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell were huge fans of The Blob.
Wan and Whannell have both admitted they pursued Smith for 2004’s Saw because they’d both had crushes on her since they saw The Blob as teenagers.
Smith initially turned down Saw because she found the material too disturbing, but eventually they won her over – and she wound up returning in three of its sequels.
Wan and Whannell were later offered the chance to do another remake of The Blob (before Rob Zombie), but declined.
1. Another Blob remake has been in development hell for years
Not unlike the hideous shapeless monster itself, word of a further remake of The Blob simply refuses to die.
As previously mentioned, James Wan and Rob Zombie were both offered the director’s chair, but the name linked to the project for the longest time is Simon West.
West – director of Con Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – was first reported to be directing a new take on The Blob in 2015.
The director said at the time, “with modern CGI we can now fully realize the potential of The Blob… the world I create will be totally believable, immersive and emotionally satisfying.”
Since then, the only new development on the project was the less-than-inspiring sales art above in 2017, but nothing more solid than that.