Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.’s The Blob focuses on Steve Andrews and Jane Martin, two teenagers who witness a meteor fall from the sky. While driving home, they pick up an injured elderly man who discovered the meteorite and now has a strange amorphous substance stuck to his arm. They take him to Dr. Hallen and then go with other teenagers to investigate the site where the meteor hit the earth. The substance absorbs the old man and then absorbs Dr. Hallen and his nurse. Steve and Jane go to the police, but the authorities refuse to believe in the existence of a monster. Steve and Jane sneak out of their houses and band together with other teenagers to find the blob. They locate it in Steve’s father’s grocery store and set off air raid sirens, blow their car horns, and call the fire department in order to get the attention of adults. The police are still skeptical until the blob invades the movie theater. Steve, Jane, Jane’s brother, and others get trapped in the diner. The police try to electrocute the blob. This fails, but Steve figures out that CO2 fire extinguishers will freeze it. With the help of the teenagers, the fire department freezes the blob and the U.S. Air Force flies it to the Arctic.
As in The Giant Gila Monster, the teens in The Blob are harassed by authority figures who believe little that the teenagers say. While the police force is distrustful of the teens, one police officer, Jim, shows them outright contempt, while Dave, the police chief, shows them sympathy. When Steve shows Jim and Dave the doctor’s office, Jim accuses Steve and the other teenagers of having engineered the doctor's disappearance as as stunt. Dave reserves judgment but nonetheless calls Jane's and Steve’s parents to fetch them home. Jane’s father, who is the high school principal, displays his selfishness when he asks Jane, "Don’t you realize what this could do to me?" Like Wheeler in The Giant Gila Monster, Jane’s father shows concern only for his reputation. He shows no concern for the welfare of Jane or the other teenagers. This is especially ironic because his job at the high school calls for him to oversee and protect young people. Even though Steve’s father is not abrasive, he does not believe Steve’s story about a monster. No one does. So Steve and the other teenagers must band together in order to save the town from the alien threat.
Steve, Jane, and others become trapped in the basement of a diner in The Blob.
Interestingly, The Blob shows the teenagers saving the day by engaging in what was perceived in Fifties society as the behavior of juvenile delinquents. Both Steve and Jane sneak out of their homes in the middle of the night. They collect the other teenagers, who are watching a midnight horror film called Daughter of Horror, and they try to warn adults of the monster. A necking couple, a bartender, and a drunken man at a party all laugh at the teenagers’ attempts to save them. When Steve and Jane find the blob in his father’s grocery store, they call the police station, but Jim rejects their plea, selfishly indulging in paranoid fantasy: "I think they’ve got it in for me," he says, citing his war record as the motivation for the teens’ hatred of him. After having their efforts rejected by the police, the teens become full-fledged delinquents. Steve tells them, "We tried to do it the right way. Now, we’re going to wake up this town up ourselves." The teens blow their car horns, set off civil-defense sirens, and call the fire department. The crowd of adults won’t listen to Steve even then. One man says, "If we’re in trouble, where are the police?" Finally, Dave the police chief is convinced and agrees to help Steve and the other teens find the blob.
The monster engulfs a diner in The Blob.
The true virtue of the teenagers in The Blob lies in their ability to act quickly. Even though Dave is sympathetic to Steve, he wants to leave any further investigation until the next day. Even when the police station starts to get calls reporting strange occurrences in the town, Dave comments, "I guess there’s nothing here that won’t wait until morning." Even once everyone has been forced to accept the existence of a monster, it is the teenagers who act quickly, taking Principal Martin to the high school to get the needed fire extinguishers to freeze the blob. Ironically, Martin must grab a rock and break the glass of the school door in order to get in, again referencing how the film refigures delinquent behavior as a positive force in the midst of a crisis. Adult authorities fail in both The Giant Gila Monster and The Blob because of their caution and lack of open-mindedness, but the horror itself remains safely distant in a reptilian freak and an alien substance. Other teen-centered horror films from the Fifties, however, located horror within adult culture itself.
The teenagers borrow CO2 fire extinguishers from the high school in The Blob.
page 3 of 5
Page One: Introduction | Page Two: The Giant Gila Monster | Page Three: The Blob
Page Four: I Was a Teenage Werewolf | Page Five: Monster On the Campus
Photo credit: © 1958 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.