I would have been eleven. It was a Saturday matinee in the little bijou Neches Theater in Port Neches, Texas, and as usual there were about eight animated cartoons, a few installments of some crappy serial (possibly even Commando Cody in Radar Men From the Moon, starring my future friend, Peter Brocco!). Screaming kids throwing popcorn, spilling Cokes, running in the aisles, the ushers (my god, remember ushers in theaters?) trying to keep some semblance of order. Then the feature started, and within a minute it got quiet. We were all watching the screen, where amorphous shapes were twisting and growing, and listening to a crazy little song:
Beware of The Blob, it creeps
And leaps and glides and slides
Across the floor
Right through the door
And all around the wall
A splotch, a blotch
Be careful of The Blob!
Music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David’s brother, Mack, no less, though of course we didn’t know that and wouldn’t have cared if we did. It peaked at #33 on the Billboard charts!
What the heck was this? We watched, fascinated, as a meteor landed out in the country and an old man poked at it with a stick (and I have always felt that the first thing humanity would do when discovering alien life is to poke at it with a stick), and it opened, and there was a little glob of cherry Jell-O inside, which the old man poked, too, and it stuck, and he held the stick up and watched the Jell-O flow down the stick, and he quickly turned it over so he wouldn’t get it on his hand … and it leaped up and grabbed his hand! Some kids actually screamed, and we were hooked. It ate the old man, and a doctor, and a nurse, and a mechanic, and it grew bigger and bigger until one of the most amazing shots in scary movie history: the interior of the theater where a really silly horror picture was showing and all the teenagers in the seats were laughing … and the Blob oooooozed through the projection windows in back, and I think every kid in the theater turned around to be sure it wasn’t happening there. I know I did.
Never mind that these are the oldest high school students you’ve ever seen. Steve McQueen was 28, in his first feature film! The girl was 25, and all the other “kids” were similar in age. Never mind that the pace drags here and there. Never mind that some of the acting is not so good. And never mind … actually, this one I do mind. Kieth Almoney as Little Danny, the obnoxious toddler who attacks the Blob with his cap pistol, may be the worst child actor I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something. I was really wishing the Blob would eat him, but no such luck. Happily, he never made another movie.
Anyway, in spite of those drawbacks, it still works for me. Not that it scares me now, you know, and I long ago got over turning around to check that a mass of cherry Jell-O wasn’t ooooooozing from the projection booth. It’s been, oh, at least a couple of years since I did that.