What could be more all-American and patriotic than a teen exploitation horror flick made by a crew specializing in religious and instructional films starring Steve McQueen. Ladies and gentlemen: The Blob, directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth, featuring a theme song by Burt Bacharach, is a masterpiece of small town angst and urgency that launched the careers of two superstars from the U.S. of A!
And being a 1950’s sci-fi flick, there are underlying social themes perhaps embedded in this unintentional auteurist oeuvre which we’ll explore tonight. What does the Blob represent? Communism?, like the pod people in the 1956 Don Seigel directed Invasion of the Body Snatchers which marked producer Walter Wanger’s return to cinematic success after a brief stint in a prison work camp for shooting his agent in the balls.
Or is the Blob an allegory for the dark waters of the unconscious, or of the unrestrained id? Note if you will, the wisecracking garage mechanic who is looking forward to a wild time without his wife, contrasted with his co-worker who heads home to be with his spouse. Guess who gets consumed by the Blob? This is of course a thematic foreshadowing to later horror films, where the fornicators will be killed by crazed maniacs, whist the virginal teens survive.
And what destroys the Blob? Cold–evoking the idea of the cold shoulder and cold shower as an antidote to unrestrained passions. The Blob is also destroyed through cooperation of opposing forces, the semi-delinquent teens, viewed with a tinge of suspicion by their elders, and the forces of authority exemplified by the police and the school principle.
Steve McQueen’s first starring role, at 27, as a teenager set a standard for brooding highschoolers, most notably Luke Perry’s portrayal of Dylan McKay on the seminal teen soap, Beverly Hills 90210.
So as the fireworks explode and the sun sets (depending on your time zones) be prepared to shiver and laugh as we dissect The Blob!