Beware! The Blob
Reviewed by Steve Crow
Rating: 7.5 Beans
ew things will chill you like the opening of this movie. We get endless credit shots on top of a kitten frisking through a field. For reasons I'm not entirely clear on, director Larry Hagman (I Dream of Jeannie, Dallas) has decided to overlay what sounds like a recording of a roller coaster ride as his opening theme. Thus we get occasional bursts of cheery music punctuated by short thrilled-sounding screams.
This goes on interminably while the name of relatively big stars flash by like a (very) low-budget version of The Poseidon Adventure. Then we cut to the action proper, as we find out the kitten belongs to a man and wife, Marianne and Chester (Marlene Clark and Godfrey Cambridge!). Chester brought back a sample of some frozen red goo from his work on an Arctic pipeline, and has it in a metal container in his refrigerator. Marianne opens it and first a fly, then the cat, then Marianne herself get eaten by the ever growing Blob. Chester (played in the most stereotyped manner I've seen since Scatman Crothers in Zapped) eventually gets eaten too.
Chester's demise is witnessed by local high schooler Lisa (Gwynne Gilford - Satan's School for Girls), who tries to warn others, including her boyfriend Bobby (Robert Walker Jr. - Star Trek's Charlie X). They spend the next little while trying to convince the dubious sheriff (Richard Webb - Captain Midnight) while annoying the local bowlarama owner, Mr. Fazio (stalwart actor Richard Stahl - bit parts in dozens of movies and TV shows).
Meanwhile . . . stuff happens. Lots of people get killed. The Blob is an equal-opportunity snacker, preying on high schoolers, policeman, gay hairdressers, handicapped people, naked shriners, bums (including Larry Hagman himself in a cameo), hobos (Burgess Meredith), and more.
Eventually Blob Mk. 2 reveals its presence, attacking the aforementioned bowlarama and trapping bobby and Lisa there. Fortunately, there's a skating rink next door and Bobby activates the electrical freezing circuits. This manages to (instantaneously!) freeze the creature, and the sheriff takes most of the credit. Watch out for the shock *yawn* ending!
Purportedly made on a shoestring budget by Larry Hagman and many of his friends, Beware! The Blob (aka Son of Blob) isn't an absolute bomb. The F/X (for the time) aren't done too badly, and there are some chilling moments of people getting killed. Unfortunately, for every halfway decent scene there are two or three really bad ones. Just as allegedly, many of Hagman's buddies were supposedly using drugs and/or alcohol during the filming, and there's a general "What the Hell!" attitude toward the whole thing. Some of the victims throw themselves at the encroaching Blob with enthusiasm not seen since The Creeping Terror (Carol Lynley and Burgess Meredith - take your bows!).
The underrated and underused Robert Walker Jr. makes a mildly engaging lead, although he's no Steve McQueen. And that's part of the problem - Hagman and the writers can't quite seem to decide if they want to do a serious pic, a 50's homage to the original, or an upgraded 70's spoof version. They end up somewhere in-between, with results that probably pleased no one. Oddly, some of the elements of this movie seemed to have been incorporated into the ‘88 remake, from the instantaneous freezing of the Blob in the finale, to the ongoing hostile adult heavy (Richard Stahl in this, Art LaFleur in the remake), to an appearance by actor Del Close in both movies. One wonders if Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Majestic, and the screenplay for the ‘88 remake) didn't watch this one closely before penning his own sequel/homage.
Overall Beware! The Blob is rather painful to watch. If the ‘88 remake is a modern-day remaking of the somewhat cheesy original, then Beware! is a hip 70's remake. You're best bet to gain some entertainment from it is to watch it with some friends. Be prepared to heckle the heck out of it and have some popcorn on hand to throw at the screen. Otherwise Beware! ever seeing Beware!
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