Movie Review: Beware! The Blob (by Larry Hagman)


Everyone has one movie or two that hit them so hard it caused them to develop habits. It could be shaking your shoes to confirm no spiders are in them, counting the seconds after a lightning strike for the thunder, or checking the back seat of your car before you get into it, just in case. Some movies kind of imprint themselves on you in different ways.

Beware! The Blob (or Son of The Blob in some circles) was the most terrifying film I saw as a kid. I watched it in front of my grandmother’s living room tv that had a little alarm clock on the floor beneath it. Unlike Friday the 13th and Halloween, where I could rationalize my fears, Beware! The Blob had me fearing the summer and any open crevice we had. On any visits to our local video store (in the Pre-Blockbuster days), I’d pick out video games to rent and could see the box for the film in the horror section. I’d never walk over there, even in my early teenage years.

Most consider the 1958 original a Classic, and Chuck Russell’s 1988 update often goes toe to toe with John Carpenter’s The Thing on the Best Remakes list. Beware! The Blob will probably never make that list, but it’s not a total loss, given a recent rewatch. The film’s greatest strengths are in the casting and the special effects. From a cinema history/trivia standpoint, the film marks one of the earliest credits for Cinematographer Dean Cundey. Cundey worked as a 2nd Unit Cinematographer for the film, particularly with the animal shots in the opening and later on. That might not sound like much, but Cundey would go on to be picked by Debra Hill to help out on Halloween in 1978. From there, he had The Fog, Halloween II, The Thing, Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Big Trouble in Little China, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Jurassic Park, to name a few.

With 14 years since the first film, there were some tech upgrades to how the blob was made. A large plastic balloon was used for some scenes (particularly the bowling alley sequences). Additionally, silicone was added to a drum to allow for the “blob pov” during the bowling alley sequences. In most sequences, a red dyed powder mixed with water was used. To make sure the audience was aware the Blob was close, a high whistle would sound, giving anyone with even the slightest bit of tinnitus some cause to look over their shoulder. Academy Award Winner Tim Baar (The Time Machine) and Conrad Rothmann worked on the effects, along with Cundey.

In his film directing debut, Larry Hagman (TV’s I Dream of Jeannie, Dallas) weaves a tale of horror lurking through a town peppered with parties, hobos, a boy scout team, an angry bowling alley owner, some dune buggy aficionados and a sheriff (Richard Webb, The Phantom Stagecoach) who’s a little confused about some of the events happening in town. To his credit, it’s amazing to see who Hagman assembled here, as he called in some friends to join in on the fun. Comedian Godfrey Cambridge. Cindy Williams, just a few years shy of American Graffiti. Gerrit Graham, about two years before Phantom of the Paradise. Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects) is here as well. You can even spot Hagman in the film as one of three hobos squaring off with the Blob. It should be noted that the other two hobos with him are Burgess Meredith (Clash of the Titans) and Del Close (Chuck Russell’s The Blob).

The film flows like it’s namesake, with some chapters having little do to with anything – Dick Van Patten’s boy scouts, while funny, could have had one of their scenes cut for speed. It’s not incredibly terrible, but it’s exactly great, either. Most of the script, written by Anthony Harris, was tossed with ad-libbing done on set. Despite all this, it does looks like the cast enjoyed themselves making the film. It has that going for it, at least.

Sid Haig was caught unaware in Larry Hagman’s Beware! The Blob

Chester, A construction worker from the Arctic (Cambridge) is getting his camping gear stowed away when his wife, Marlene (Marlene Clark, The Beast Must Die) discovers a thermos in their freezer. He explains he performed some work and brought home a piece of what the found in the Arctic. Setting it on a countertop, the couple forget about the thermos, which pops open. The newly released blob absorbs a fly and a kitten before moving on to larger prey. Before we know it, Chester is having problems with his TV – which happens to be playing the original 1958 movie – as it slithers into his favorite recliner. It’s a sequence that’s burned into my mind. I always check a chair before sitting in it. Some check for thumbtacks, I check for alien goo.

When Lisa (Gwynne Gilford, Masters of the Universe & actor Chris Pine’s Mom) discovers Chester with his new friend, she dashes out and heads to her boyfriend, Bobby (Robert Walker, Easy Rider). By the time the couple return to Chester’s place, they find the house empty. Can the couple convince the cops and the town of the danger ahead before it’s too late? Most of Beware! The Blob‘s scenes are set up in a way where people are completely oblivious of it until it’s touched them, causing said individual to slip and fall into the camera. The climax of the film takes place in a bowling alley, which is actually impressive for the techniques used, but even with the casting, you might spend more time laughing than anything else. Perhaps that’s my way of rationalizing the film years later.

At the time of this writing, Beware! The Blob is currently available to watch on the Plex streaming service. We’re also labeling this an Incident – out of respect to the kitten – and returning the timer to Zero.

You’re Killing Me, Smalls!: Let’s Play in THE SANDLOT (20th Century-Fox 1993)


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Baseball movies are as American as apple pie, and everyone has their favorites, from classic era films like THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES and TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME to latter-day fare like THE NATURAL and FIELD OF DREAMS. There’s so much to choose from, comedies, dramas, and everything in-between. One of my all-time favorites is 1993’s coming of age classic, THE SANDLOT.

Like most baseball movies, THE SANDLOT is about more than just The Great American Pastime. Director David Mickey Evans’ script (co-written with Robert Gunter) takes us back to 1962, as young Scotty Smalls has moved to a brand new neighborhood in a brand new city. His dad died, and his mom (Karen Allen of NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE fame) has remarried preoccupied Bill (young comedian Denis Leary…. hmmm, I wonder what ever happened to him??), who tries to teach the nerdy kid how to play…

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A (Not-So) Brief Note On WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT (20th Century Fox 2004)


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Sometimes while scrolling through the channels one come across a pleasant surprise. So it’s Saturday afternoon,a thundershower has cancelled my plan to hit the beach, the Red Sox don’t start for awhile, and I’m clicking the old clicker when I land on WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT. I wasn’t expecting much, just a way to kill time; instead, I found an underrated little gem of a comedy that kept me watching until the very end.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT is an undiscovered classic or anything like that. It’s just a solidly made piece of entertainment about small-town life starring Ray Romano (riding high at the time thanks to his successful sitcom EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND) and Oscar winning Gene Hackman. Romano uses his nebbishy TV persona to portray Mooseport, Maine’s local hardware store owner “Handy” Harrison, who gets involved in a mayoral campaign against Hackman’s Monroe “Eagle”…

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Make ‘Em Laugh: RIP Tim Conway


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If comedy is a gift, then Tim Conway was America’s Santa Claus, delivering bags full of laughter directly into our homes for over fifty years. The cherubic Conway, who died May 14 at age 85, was mainly known for his television work, but also starred in films, on stage, and in the home video field, making him a true Renaissance Man of Comedy.

Tim and Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson

Young Tim got his start in his hometown of Cleveland, not exactly a hotbed of humor (with apologies to Jim Backus, Kaye Ballard, and British transplant Bob Hope ), writing and appearing in skits with local TV personality Ernie Anderson during breaks in a morning movie show. Anderson himself would later gain fame as a horror host (Cleveland’s Ghoulardi) and  a network announcer, ‘The Voice of ABC’ (“Tonight on The Loooo-ve Boat….”).

Comic actress Rose Marie, on a cross-country tour promoting THE…

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A Moment of Comedy Bliss with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman


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As the world still mourns the loss of Doris Day yesterday, another great has left us  – TV comedy genius Tim Conway, who died today at age 85. Tim rightfully deserves a tribute post of his own, and he’ll get it, but until then, enjoy this classic bit of comedy gold from THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW (and watch Harvey Korman try to keep a straight face!):

Tim Conway (1933-2019)

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The Dork Knight: Steve Martin in DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID (Universal 1982)


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Quick, name a film noir that stars Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, Vincent Price, and… Steve Martin? There’s only one: 1982’s DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID, the second collaboration between that “wild and crazy guy” Martin and comedy legend Carl Reiner. I remember, back in 1982, being dazzled by editor Bud Molin’s seamless job of incorporating classic film footage into the new narrative while simultaneously laughing my ass off. Things haven’t changed – the editing still dazzles, and I’m still laughing!

Martin and Reiner’s first comedy, 1979’s THE JERK, was an absurdist lover’s delight, and this time around the two, along with cowriter George Gipe, concocted this cockeyed detective saga after combing through old black and white crime dramas (we didn’t call ’em film noir back then) and cherry picking scenes to build their screenplay around. Martin plays PI…

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De-Coded: Wheeler & Woosley in KENTUCKY KERNALS (RKO 1934)


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The comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woosley  join forces with Our Gang’s Spanky McFarland in KENTUCKY KERNALS, directed by Hal Roach vet George Stevens. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a barrel of laughs, right? Well, while there are some laughs to be had, the (then) recent enforcement of the Production Code finds W&W much more subdued than in their earlier zany efforts, and playing second fiddle to both Spanky’s admittedly funny antics and the plot at hand, a takeoff on the famed Hatfield-McCoy feud.

Weirdly enough, the film starts off with a lovelorn man attempting suicide by jumping off a bridge. Fortunately for him, he lands in a fishing net owned by down-on-their luck vaudevillians Elmer (Woolsey) and Willie (Wheeler), living in a waterfront shack. The two convince him to adopt a child, and go to the orphanage, where they find cute little Spanky, who has a…

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Happy Birthday Charlie Chaplin: CHAPLIN’S ART OF COMEDY (Independent-International 1968)


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Today we celebrate the birthday of the immortal Charlie Chaplin , born on this date 130 years ago. Chaplin made his film debut 105 years ago this year, and the world hasn’t stopped laughing since! His silent comedies featuring the endurable character “The Little Tramp” (or as Chaplin called him, “The Little Fellow”) have stood the test of time, and his mix of humor and pathos elevated slapstick comedy to high art. The compilation film CHAPLIN’S ART OF COMEDY highlights Chaplin’s early efforts at Essanay Studios from 1914-15, and contains some of his best work.

The success of Robert Youngson’s 1959 film THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY (spotlighting silent luminaries like Laurel & Hardy, Ben Turpin, and others) had spawned a whole host of imitators over the next decade utilizing low-to-no cost silent footage and repackaging it into a new feature film. Some were good, others lackadaisically put together, most…

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Spring Fever: Joe E. Brown in ELMER THE GREAT (Warner Brothers 1933)


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It may be cold and snowy here in New England, but down in sunny Florida, Spring Training has already begun – which means baseball season is on it’s way! The Red Sox are looking good, although they got pounded by the Orioles in the game I watched this afternoon (I’m writing this on a Saturday), but just hearing the crack of the bats has whetted my appetite for the return of America’s National Pastime. So while we wait for Opening Day to arrive, let’s take a look at the 1933 baseball comedy ELMER THE GREAT.

Comedian Joe E. Brown plays yet another amiable country bumpkin, this time Elmer Kane of small town Gentryville, Indiana. Elmer’s  laid back to the point of inertia, except when he’s eating… or on a baseball field! He’s better than Babe Ruth and he knows it, and so do the Chicago Cubs, who’ve bought his contract…

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Stan & Ollie: OUR RELATIONS (Hal Roach/MGM 1936) & WAY OUT WEST (Hal Roach/MGM 1937)


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Like many of you Dear Readers, I’m eagerly awaiting the new STAN & OLLIE biopic starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, which hasn’t hit my area yet (and visit yesterday’s post for my thoughts on that film’s Oscar snub). I’m a huge Laurel & Hardy buff, and I spent last week warming up by watching “The Boys” in a pair of their classic comedies:

OUR RELATIONS wasn’t the first time Laurel & Hardy played dual roles (their 1930 short BRATS casts them as their own children, while 1933’s TWICE TWO finds them as each other’s spouses!), but it’s loads of fun! Stan and Ollie are two happily married suburbanites, while their long-lost twin brothers Alf and Bert are the seafaring “black sheep” of the family. Mother has informed Ollie the rascals wound up being hung from the yardarms, but it turns out Alf and Bert are alive and well…

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