Mini-Review: The Blob (1988)

Starring Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark, Joe Seneca, Del Close, Paul McCrane, Sharon Spelman, Beau Billingslea, Art LaFleur

Directed by Chuck Russell

Expectations: Low. This one never interested me for some reason, but here I am watching it.


Oh wow, I love it when this happens. I’ve watched horror movies for years now and sometimes I get to thinking I’ve seen all the fun ones already. The Blob is not only one of the most fun horror movies I’ve seen in a while, it’s one of the most fun I’ve ever seen. They truly go for broke on this one, with lots of good 80s clichés and absolutely amazing physical FX. I went into this one with pretty low expectations for some reason, but I came out hootin’, hollerin’ and havin’ an absolute blast.

The film starts out very ominously as the credits fade in over quiet, well-composed shots of the barren, small town where The Blob takes place. Eventually we get to the high school football game where apparently everyone in town is rooting on their team. Here we meet our first couple of main characters (a player and a cheerleader), but before this scene can play out completely, director Chuck Russell crosscuts the cheering crowd with the leather jacket wearin’, motorcycle drivin’, bad boy Brian as he tries to jump a washed out bridge on his bike. These opening scenes perfectly set up the town we’ll be inhabiting for the next ninety minutes, as well as foreshadowing a key moment that I wouldn’t dare spoil here. Trust me, it’s awesome in the way that only an 80s movie can be awesome.

In addition to story tropes that only 80s movies can pull off effectively (but that shouldn’t stop modern filmmakers from trying!), The Blob is notable for its kick-fucking-ass special FX by the impressive Tony Gardner. He’s worked within many genres over the course of almost thirty years, and recently was responsible for the realistic prosthetic arm that James Franco cut off in 127 Hours. I’m a huge fan of physical FX and even I am speechless at how great the FX look in The Blob. The kills are nothing short of incredible and ridiculously inventive, ranging from phone booth crushings to a dude that literally gets sucked down a sink drain. It’s a smorgasbord of awesome and this film should be required viewing for anyone looking to make a modern horror film. Horror has lost so much of the fun it once had. Where modern horror focuses almost exclusively on realism and torture porn squirm scares, the 80s had a sense of heightened reality that allowed the films to go above and beyond what realism can offer, resulting in films that are relentlessly fun.

On top of all that goodness, director Chuck Russell actually knows how to shoot and edit a movie! Imagine that! The cinematography is rich and colorful, perfectly complementing the beautifully composed shots and FX. I really can’t believe more people aren’t talking about this one, as it is so well made and so very much fun. If you like 80s horror, you simply must watch The Blob.

Mini-Review: Next of Kin (1989)

Next of Kin (1989)

Starring Patrick Swayze, Liam Neeson, Adam Baldwin, Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Ben Stiller, Andreas Katsulas, Michael J. Pollard, Ted Levine, Del Close

Directed by John Irvin

Expectations: Low, but the star power here is worth a shot.


Patrick Swayze plays a tough Chicago cop who hails originally from the backwoods that has to step up to the challenge when the mob murders his brother! His justice isn’t swift enough for his other brother (Liam Neeson), who comes down from the mountain on a hunt for vengeance. Sounds good, right?

Unfortunately, it’s just OK. Next of Kin has definite flashes of greatness, such as the train rooftop sequence, but more often than not, the film is characterized by mediocre dialogue and a boring plot. It’s also much too long for its own good. The sheer amount of future star talent should not be overlooked though, and Next of Kin will forever remain of interest to film fans for this. Liam Neeson is especially good as Swayze’s brother. While it may be a footnote to his illustrious career, it is another great performance from the always dependable Neeson.

In yesterday’s look at Winter’s Bone, I noted that the characters in it were realistic and didn’t exhibit the traditional stereotyped hillbilly personas. Next of Kin fares surprisingly well in this regard as well, with the country folk never feeling stupid or the butt of cheap jokes. There’s definitely a similar air of “You don’t fuck with country folk,” reinforced by the scene where members of Swayze’s family all band together and take down the mafia men with crossbows in a shadowy graveyard.

Next of Kin isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but it is pretty fun in spots and worth watching to see so many young actors packed into one movie. Also, I’m glad Ben Stiller lost that unibrow.

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