Monday, October 26, 2009

"The Blob 2"

For reasons I recently explained, I'm something of a newcomer to the horror genre. I grew up during a period when horror was at its worst, and mistook this bad streak to mean that horror was an inferior genre in general (read here). Now I have an immense respect for what a good horror movie can do -- the way it can subtly and playfully address an issue, comment on our times, make a moral or sociopolitical point.

That being said, to a large degree I still don't completely understand the genre. Obviously, I understand the concept of something scary/creepy happening on screen = the audience getting scared/creeped out. But there's so much I don't understand about the craft, both in the storytelling and in the art direction. That sense of dread created by the imagery... When and why a character dies... I still have a lot to learn.

Last October, I watched the original The Blob for the first time. It was "charming," as my friend Cooper said. It was clearly limited by its small budget, as well as what they could get away with portraying on screen in those days. To a certain extent, I don't think the filmmakers completely understood how to structure a narrative. Still, when the movie ends, you just smile and nod. "Yeah, that was all right."

Not long after finishing The Blob, I was struck with the perfect idea for a sequel. An idea that made me smile and nod, just as the original movie had. I had no particular avenue for pursuing this as an actual for-real project. But, hey, an idea is an idea. If I should ever find myself in a position to pitch an idea for a Blob sequel, I'd know exactly where to begin. But first, I had to check into the remake...

In 1988, TriStar Pictures released a remake of The Blob. Directed by Chuck Russell (whose next movie would be The Mask), co-written by Frank Darabont (who would go on to write and direct The Shawshank Redemption), and starring Johnny Drama himself, Kevin Dillon, the remake... well, is pretty bad. As you might expect, they "improved" upon the original by making it gorier (you can see people being dissolved inside the Blob once it engulfs them), and making the Blob faster and more threatening. And I'll admit, it's a bit of a jolt the first time the Blob spits an arm out to snag someone rather than roll over him.

As any crappy '80s horror movie was required to do, this Blob left the door open for a sequel in the form of a deranged preacher who was waiting for a sign from God to release a fragment of the Blob that he had collected during an encounter. Yeah, just really dumb. In order for my sequel idea to work, this version of The Blob has to be completely ignored.  Which shouldn't be too difficult, considering the remake didn't exactly set the box office on fire.

(There was also apparently a sequel called Beware! The Blob in 1972, directed by Larry Hagman (!).  I've never heard anyone talk about this, and assume it's also to be ignored.)

Okay, so at the end of the original The Blob -- spoiler alert! -- the Blob doesn't win.  The townsfolk discover that the Blob is repelled by cold temperatures.  So they use fire extinguishers to freeze it solid.  Then we see a crate being flown by military plane and dropped into the frozen arctic, where it is to remain permanently frozen, keeping the world safe from this monster.

Which is why now is the perfect time to make a sequel.  Global warming, people!  The ice caps are melting.  So we open on a crate buried on the edge of an ice shelf.  Hot sun blazing down.  There's dripping and melting around the crate.  We hear shifting, cracking.  Suddenly, the crate breaks free and splashes into the water.  It drifts with the current.  Eventually, it hits land.  We hear creaking.  The crate begins to bulge.  The wood warps with stress.  Finally, it breaks open!  The Blob is free!

So right off the bat, you've got the issue the movie is addressing.  Global warming leads to man's downfall... in the form of the Blob.

It's unclear where exactly the crate was dropped at the end of the first movie, so we could start pretty much anywhere cold.  But since the first movie took place in Pennsylvania, I'm thinking the crate could have been dropped somewhere up in Greenland.  That way, it's feasible that the crate could float over to North America, perhaps around Newfoundland.  It could eat its way down the Canadian seaboard, cross into upstate New York (where customs are very lax; the Blob would have nothing to declare), and eventually start rousing the suspicions of...

The grandson of Steve McQueen's character from the original movie!  This role could be played by, say, Zac Efron.  He always thought his grandfather was just telling him crazy stories, but these recent news reports of people disappearing and slime being left behind are starting to sound suspiciously familiar.  He starts telling people his theory, but they, of course, think he's either joking or crazy.  After all, it's been a few generations and the Blob's original attack in the 1950s has been forgotten by time.  So he has to go investigate the situation himself, and convince the authorities that he knows what he's talking about.

Any plans they make to freeze the Blob again will fail.  Don't want to pull the same trick twice there.  And besides... where would they keep the Blob permanently frozen?  Some laboratory with a massive freezer?  That would make a sequel too easy.  Power goes out, freezer fails, Blob escapes... boring!

So how will they defeat the Blob this time?  Well, if I were ever seriously working on this project, I might have come up with something.  But some news came out a couple months ago which renders the whole idea useless.  It turns out Rob Zombie has recently signed on to do a whole new remake.

It's just as well.  I wasn't serious about this idea, and don't feel like I've lost anything.  Just thought it would have been a good approach.  But it's definitely off now, which is why I'm submitting it to you, the reader.

Rob Zombie has made some pretty good movies, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he'll do with The Blob. Anybody who pursues a remake of The Blob must have some great ideas for it, because the concept isn't as commercial as most of the other horror/slasher properties out there.  Shooting is scheduled for this spring, so I assume it will be out next fall.  I'll see you in line.

In the meantime, Happy Halloween, everybody!

1 comment :

  1. Most good horror movies have some kind of comment on society - Zombies & consumerism, slashers & sexuality, science experiments gone wrong and technology/morals.
    Most sequels/remakes chuck this basis out the window and carry the story with how much pointless gore they can throw in our faces.


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