The 80s was a great decade for horror remakes, most famously John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly – but let’s not forget 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, mostly practical special effects. Let’s take a look back at this 80s horror with some facts about the film that you may not have known. (Beware of spoilers!)
20. It almost starred another McQueen
One of the most memorable things about 1958’s original The Blob is the fact that it stars a young Steve McQueen. With this in mind, the film legend’s son Chad McQueen was the first actor offered the central role of biker bad boy Brian Flagg in the 1988 remake.
However, the younger McQueen (best known for his role in The Karate Kid) 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. McQueen has since retired from acting and is a full-time race car driver.
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.
The film features some subtle references to the famed author’s 1978 novel The Stand. Kevin Dillon (brother of Matt Dillon) plays Brian Flagg, who is named after Randall Flagg, The Stand’s central antagonist. Meanwhile Billy Beck’s transient is officially listed as Can Man – a nod to The Stand’s character Trash Can Man.
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.
Russell (who later directed Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz in The Mask) 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.
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. The sequel and the remake share an actor in Del Close, who plays the Reverend Meeker in the 1988 film and 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.
16. The Blob itself was made primarily out of silk
Back in the 80s before CGI took off, movie special effects used more practical methods.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.” Methacil is a food additive traditionally used as a thickener for gravy and milkshakes, and had also been used in the original 1958 The Blob.
15. The phone booth death scene was done with a miniature
Director Chuck Russell says his favourite shot in The Blob was done with a very old school approach: miniatures. The scene in question features Candy Clark’s Fran trapped in a phone booth as the Blob slowly envelops it from the outside, and eventually the booth collapses under the weight.
At the moment the booth caves in, the film cuts 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
One of the great surprises in The Blob is how the opening scenes set up Donovan Leitch’s Paul as the main protagonist, then he gets killed off shockingly early. For this scene, a full body cast was made of the actor for some of the more complex shots.
However, when Shawnee Smith’s Meg finds her boyfriend being consumed by the Blob, 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.
13. Donovan Leitch and ShawneeSmith were prom dates in real life
Early on in The Blob, when it looks like Donovan Leitch’s Paul is going to be the hero, his biggest concern is finding the right time to ask Shawnee Smith’s Meg out on a date. As it turns out, Leitch had dealt with that very same problem in real life.
Prior to making The Blob, Leitch (brother of Ione Skye) attended the same Hollywood high school as Smith, and they 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. As Dillon’s hair was short, the director made him have extensions fitted for the role.
All these years later, one of the few things in that film that has aged particularly badly is Dillon’s corny-looking mullet, which the actor has repeatedly stressed wasn’t his real hair. Russell laughed years later that Dillon “never forgave me” for making him wear those extensions.
11. The writers took inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock killing off unexpected characters
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 dies first after being set up as the main character.
Darabont and Russell hoped to inspire similar shock from audiences by killing off Donovan Leitch first. Nor did their shock tactics stop there, as The Blob is one of the few mainstream horror movies to kill off a child, which Russell insists studio TriStar never objected to.
10. The remake has a very different attitude toward religion than the Christian-funded original
The original 1958 The Blob 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 corruption of government agent Meadows (Joe Seneca), the heroism of bad boy Brian, and the climactic implication that a religious fanatic is planning to destroy the world.
9. Two Playboy models make brief appearances, including Erika Eleniak
Two actresses who appear in The Blob have also graced the pages of Playboy magazine. The first of these is Erika Eleniak, who briefly appears as the unfortunate drunk girl Vicki. She would go on to pose for Playboy in 1989 before finding 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 who has been left dismembered by the Blob.
Craig was a veteran of the Vietnam war, who lost most of his limbs and much of his sight in the line of duty. He went on to take creature roles in Poltergeist II, Big Trouble in Little China, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and Bride of Re-Animator, before he sadly passed away in 2018, aged 69.
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, the actor best known for playing the lead in cult classic Eraserhead.
After appearing in David Lynch’s nightmarish directorial debut, Nance went on to appear in many more of Lynch’s films, as well as TV series Twin Peaks. 80s horror fans might also remember Nance’s role in 1984’s Ghoulies. Sadly, Nance passed away in 1996.
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, who appears briefly towards the end of the movie as a traumatised member of the shady government agency. The actor had made his big break two years earlier in 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 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 had a crush on his 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, the young actor had appeared in tongue-in-cheek zombie sequel 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!”
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 centring on Del Close’s Reverend Meeker.
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. This never got past the conceptual stage however, and it is believed no script was ever written.
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.
Chuck Russell later suggested The Blob was hurt by being released in a “very hectic summer filled with big films,” including Die Hard, A Fish Called Wanda, Cocktail, Young Guns and (most significantly for the horror audience) A Nightmare on Elm Street 4.
2. It helped land Shawnee Smith her role in Saw, because the filmmakers were fans with a crush on her
Years after The Blob, actress Shawnee Smith landed a recurring role in the Saw series. Smith had been the first choice for her character Amanda, because Saw director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell were huge fans of The Blob and had both had crushes on Smith since seeing the film.
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. Curiously, 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 (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider).
West said in 2015, “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.” However, the only new development on the project was some less-than-inspiring sales art in 2017.