There are so many brow-furrowing details attached to the belated, 1972 sequel little-known sequel to 1958 sci-fi camp classic The Blob, that it beggars belief. The fact that it even exists seems far fetched enough to assume that all claims that it was ever made in the first place are nothing but some sort of weird Mandela effect where your brain feeds you a random line of bullshit – but exist it does and it somehow gets weirder from there.
Take your pick: the premise is now a bizarre spoof; it was also released under the title Son Of Blob; the director was the dude who played J.R. Ewing in Dallas – the increasingly random factoids keep tumbling ever onward, growing and mutating much like amorphous, red goo that’s resurrected for another go and consuming unsuspecting Americans. But does this leap from 50’s creature feature to goofy 70’s grindhouse mean that this slimy staple of movie monster can retain its shape?
It’s 1972 and the citizens of a Los Angeles suburb are going about their business, oil pipeline engineer Chester has returned home from a job in the North Pole to get drunk, go fishing and spend time with his adoring wife – but he didn’t come home alone.
Literally chilling in his freezer is a mysterious frozen substance he discovered after a bulldozer turned it up and when it accidently defrosts, it turns out to be part of the same blob-like creature that terrorized another small town fifteen years prior. Getting a boost from first snacking on a fly and then scaling the food chain by absorbing a kitten (sorry, guys), the blob moves up to bipedal prey when it chows down on Chester and his wife.
However, while in the act of being a Chester digester, young friend Lisa walks in and immediately tries to raise the alarm to anyone who will listen.
That ultimately proves to be somewhat of a tough nut to crack when no one seems to want to take the panicked warnings of a killer blob from a hysterical hippie seriously and as her clueless boyfriends and her vapid friends insist on throwing a party, the gelatinous gulped slowly works its way through the town, steadily growing with every victim.
Hobos, cops, hippies, scout leaders, chickens; no one is safe from the creatures bottomless appetite and matters are made even worse when the local police refuse to believe the stories even when Lisa finally manages to find some allies.
As the blob slowly creeps and seeps toward the town’s bowling tournament, can anything stop its inexorable ooze towards absorbing the entire town, and perhaps the entire world?
It’s tough to know just exactly how to take Beware! The Blob as director Larry Hagman seems to be far more interested in having a bit of a goof with his friends than actually making a coherent movie. Literally casting his mates and even some of his celebrity neighbours such as Dick Van Patten, Carol Lynley and Burgess Meredith with the questionable offer “Wanna get blobbed?”, the movie has a loose, cobbled together feel that plays less like the 1950’s version and more like Atttack Of The Killer Tomatoes. However, this actually seems to be Hagman’s intention from the get-go and he seems to have absolutely no interest whatever in making a taunt, sci-fi/horror – something that becomes blindingly and overwhelmingly obvious when you realise that the majority of dialogue is blatantly just being made up on the fly.
While this gives the cast of jobbing character actors plenty of time to air out their various schtick, it does mean you’re stuck watching numerous, poorly planned comedy skits while you desperately wait for the blob to turn up and eat someone. Take for example the initially amusing scene where Shelley Berman’s snooty “hair sculpter” negotiates the ins and outs of a haircut with a clumpy-haired hippie that goes on forever to the point where you’re almost screaming for the blob to show up and eat these bastards already.
But again, this seems to be exactly what Larry Hagman wants to film as he piles on the weirdness with causual abandon. Despite being a direct sequel to the Paul Newman original, one character is actually watching The Blob on television while he’s actually being stalked by the titular creature; a portly Turkish gentleman escapes being attacked during bath time and escapes by tearing off down the street butt-ass naked; Gerritt Graham’s pouty hippie inexplicably drives his dune buggy into a house-sized blob. The film feels like a Mad magazine parody brought to life.
If Beware! The Blob wasn’t sandwiched between an iconic original and a cracking 80’s remake, I’d probably be a bit more forgiving of Hagman’s scruffy romp, but despite its laid back Grindhouse stylings (the uncredited appearance of Sid Haig all but confirms it) the movie is impossible to take seriously as a monster movie or a spoof.
Still, taken in a 70’s version of Adam Sandler making a movie just to hang out with his buds, Beware! The Blob does contain a fair amount of dopey charm and there’s still chuckles to be had at how ruthless Hagman is as dispatching everything from adorable animals to a wheelchair bound priest – but you’re never truly certain if the laughs are coming because the director has done something right, or done something wrong and the line between the two is deceptively thin.
Marketed later as “the film J.R. shot” (riffing on the infamous “who shot J.R” plotline from Dallas), the body count is huge, the tone is breezy and it still manages to retain the original theme of kids vs adults left over from the original, but despite its virtues as a movie that plays the so-bad-it’s-good card with impish glee, this particular blob is a noticable mess.