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The Blob That Terrorized Small Town Pennsylvania

Entertainment | May 6, 2022

Source: (MUBI).

In 1958, The Blob was unleashed on the world. The film, which starred Steve McQueen as a teenager named Steve Andrews, was set in a small, rural Pennsylvania town in July 1957. In the film, while Steve Andrews and his girlfriend Jane Martin (Aneta Corsault) are kissing on lover’s lane, they see a meteorite crash. The old man who lives nearby gets to the meteorite first, and starts to poke it with a stick. When it breaks open, the blob, which is only a small globule at that point, emerges and attaches itself to his hand.

In pain, the old man runs onto the road, and is struck by Steve’s car; Steve and Jane then take him to Doctor Hallen (Stephen Chase). In the doctor’s office, the blob consumes the man, followed by the nurse, and then starts to consume Doctor Hallen. Steve and Jane, who the Doctor had sent out, return to see the Doctor trying to escape through the window, with the blob covering him. Each time the blob consumes someone, it increases in size. Steve and Jane then head to the police station and bring the Lieutenant and Sergeant back with them. However, there is no sign of the large gelatinous monster, which has continued on its journey.

Source: (IMDb).

Where The Film Got Its Start

The Blob became Jack Harris’ first production. He used a Pennsylvania studio called Valley Forge, which had, at that point, made 250 religious films. Harris was also able to convince a Methodist minister and filmmaker, Irvin S. Yeaworth, to direct his film, which according to some sources, was actually inspired by a real event in Philadelphia in 1950. Police officers Joe Keenan and John Collins claimed they saw something falling from the sky and discovered an oozy substance dangling from a telephone pole. The substance, possibly star jelly, appeared to move, and when Collins touched it, it left a sticky residue behind and then evaporated. Their tale became a media story, of which the local filmmakers Harris and Irvine H. Millgate probably would have been aware. Apparently, Millgate had the desire to make a movie monster that is not a guy dressed up in a suit […] some kind of a form that’s never been done before.” They pitched ideas for a few days, and Yeaworth had a suggestion for Harris: a mineral which “if you get involved with it, can absorb your flesh.” Once they had a storyboard for the film, they turned to another minister, Theodore Simonson and the former actress Kate Phillips (Kay Linaker) to write the screenplay, which was at first called The Molten Meteor.

Source: (IMDb).

The Blob Is Conquered...Or Is It

The Blob next strikes at a repair shop, and a grocery store, followed by the Colonial Theater, where theatergoers are watching Daughter of Horror. It then consumes the projectionist and oozes into the auditorium, causing the audience to run out of the theater screaming. It moves on to consume a diner. They try to destroy it with fire and electricity, but it is unaffected. However, as Steve discovers, it can’t stand the cold and so Steve and his friends team up with firemen using fire extinguishers to freeze the Blob. The Blob is then airlifted to the Arctic, and they believe that the Blob may not be dead, but at least they’ve stopped it. As Steve says, “as long as the Arctic stays cold.” At the end of the film, the Blob is carried to an Arctic ice field and over the image, the words “The End” are superimposed; they morph into a question mark.

Source: (IMDb).

A Low Budget Film With Some Staying Power

The film took 31 days to make and was filmed in suburban Philadelphia, in the towns of Chester Springs, Downingtown, Royersford, and Phoenixville. The creation of the Blob relied mainly on silicone and red vegetable dye.

Steve McQueen made only $3,000 for his role because he turned down an offer of less upfront and a 10% share of the profits; he didn’t think it would make money, but the film grossed $4 million at the box office, despite its poor reviews.

As for the soundtrack, Bob Carmichael, who had worked on television specials for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, composed the background score. The title song, "The Blob," was written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David; this song was used to create the perception of the film as campy fun. Perhaps it is because of that campy fun that the blob has had a modicum of cultural staying power, as it has had a sequel and a remake. Every year, the location of the Colonial Theater, Phoenixville, hosts a festival dedicated to The Blob, including multiple screenings, and during one of the screenings, a reenactment of the scene where the audience runs out of the theater.

Tags: Steve McQueen | The Blob

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Linda Speckhals

Writer

When she’s not out walking her dog, or taking in a baseball game, Linda loves learning about history, science, and philosophy. She will travel wherever the wind may blow, and happily loses herself in a book, whenever she can. At heart, she is a music loving tree-hugger.