This was not Steve McQueen's first movie, but it was his first leading role in a major motion picture. His name appears as Steven McQueen in the credits. Speaking of the opening credits, the movie had my attention from the get-go thanks to them. It's obvious that the filmmakers never intended for the movie to be taken too seriously, because the groovy, catchy theme song (Beware of the Blob) was co-composed by none other than Burt Bacharach. I also loved the use of mid-century modern graphics to represent the Blob getting bigger and bigger.
When the movie opens, "teenager" Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen, who was 28 when the film was released) is making out in a convertible with his girlfriend Jane (lucky girl, as played by Aneta Corsaut) when they see a falling star land a few miles from where they're parked. Steve really wants to investigate it, so they take off to try to find it. Meanwhile, the meteor has landed in an old man's farm.
The old man (Olin Howland, a veteran actor whose appearance in The Blob marks his last role) finds the meteor and naturally, instead of calling the cops he does the smart thing instead, which is to take a stick and begin poking at it. The meteor cracks open, and the material inside coats the stick and oozes onto his hand. Unable to get if off, he yowls in pain and goes running into the street, where he is rescued by Steve and Jane.
The couple take him to the local doctor, who is just closing up in anticipation of traveling to a medical convention. He gives the old man anesthetic to knock him out and determines that he's dealing with some sort of parasite. He sends Steve and Jane to the old man's property to see if they can find any information that might enable the doctor to treat him.
While phoning his nurse to return to the office to assist him, the Blob is spreading across the old man's body. I actually found this part to be the creepiest--while the doctor is on the phone, we witness its movement under the blanket. By the time the nurse has arrived, the old man is now gone, completely engulfed by the Blob, which resembles a giant pile of melted red gummy bears. Attempts by the nurse to stop the Blob by throwing acid on it do not work, and she becomes the space ameoba's next victim. When Steve and Jane return to the doctor's office (with the old man's dog in tow), Steve witnesses the doctor get eaten by the Blob through a window.
At this point the police get called (finally!) to help, and they check out the inside of the doctor's house, which is in shambles. Unfortunately, the "monster" that Steve claims he witnessed is nowhere to be found, and the cops are convinced that he and his teenage buddies are pulling a prank.
The movie's climax takes place within a diner, where Steve, Jane, Jane's little brother, and the diner's owners take refuge in the basement while the Blob completely engulfs the building. I won't spoil the ending for those who haven't seen it, but let's just say that there appeared to be a nod to global warming, even though folks in the 50s didn't know about it yet. There also was a hint revealed about how the Blob would eventually be stopped while Steve and Jane take refuge in the grocery store.
Yes, there are some very laughable parts in this film, and the characters do some stupid things (I wanted to slap Jane when she dropped the deceased old man's dog when she encounters the Blob in the supermarket.) The Blob's movements are very herky jerky, but overall I thought the special effects were passable considering what was available in the movie industry in 1958. Also, I'd like to give thanks to the movie makers for choosing to make the film in color, so that I could gaze at Steve McQueen's baby blue eyes.
McQueen thought the movie would be a flop, so he opted for a lump sum salary of $3,000 instead of 10% of the profits; the movie ended up grossing $4 million, so you do the math. However, his film career would take off in a few years.
I realize that this film got an 80s makeover and a sequel of sorts, but I have no interest in them compared to the nostalgia value of the 1958 original. All in all, I enjoyed The Blob...a fun horror-themed flick to watch on Halloween, or a hot summer night.
Here's the opening credits featuring that groovy song: