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Get ready for company, because this is the summer of alien invasions. Hollywood headliners such as Prometheus, Battleship, and Men in Black 3 are ushering extraterrestrials earthward in droves, inspiring us to dig up one of our favorite alien flicks, The Blob. This low-budget, 1958 cult classic is as clichÃ© as they come, but its cheesy effects, scrappy costuming, and heart-of-gold commitment to the idea of an apocalyptic blob of space Jell-O is strangely disarming.
The movie takes place in the summer of 1957, in a sleepy, nondescript town. Teenage lovebirds Steve (Steve McQueen) and Jane (Aneta Corsaut) are making out in the woods when a large, glowing orb burns through the sky and crashes off in the distance. At Steve’s urging, the couple goes off to investigate, and soon find themselves fighting for survival against a sentient, gelatinous lump that harbors a sinister taste for human meat.
When your villain is a blob, it’s hard to craft action-packed scenes or move the plot along that quickly, which means we have ample time to check out the fashion in the film. Unlike that other ’50s movie, Grease — which was filmed in the ’70s but set after the summer of 1958 — the high schoolers in The Blob aren’t fashion plates or teen dreams. When Steve and his pals drag race, there is nary a sexy flag-waver in sight, and they only race the length of a neighborhood block. Steve stumbles his way through his makeout session with Jane. The girls wear sweet A-line skirts and poppy red lipstick, while the boys generally dress like my father. They’re kids from Anytown, USA — not particularly glamorous, but very real.
Like Grease and other teen films, however, The Blob does suffer from that Hollywood syndrome where all the teenagers look like they’re in their twenties (indeed, McQueen was 27 when he filmed The Blob). As a result, costumes played a key role in creating contrasts between the teens and adults, with the kids dressed in bright colors and the grown-ups garbed in the uniforms of their professions or age.
This film may not be able to compete with the pounding visual effects of Prometheus in 3-D or the epic musical costumes of Grease, but, like its titular terror, it is what it is. As a vehicle of doom, the Blob is not particularly scary or effective, but it works hard, plays hard, and, most importantly, puts on a good show.
Have you seen The Blob? What’s your favorite alien movie?
1950s, fashion in film, horror, indie, movies, sci-fi
Love the colors – the ruby and coral reds, sky blues, pastel pinks and yellows. Good thing this was filmed in color, eh?
My favorite alien movie, hands down, is Independence Day.
I love Jane’s yellow dress in the penultimate photo. Additionally, I love this movie. I saw it first when I was about ten at my grandparents house. My grandfather and his brother were extras that ran “screaming” out of the movie theatre. He always joked that he would give me an autograph from the “costar” of the blob.
And as far as my favorite alien movie? Definitely signs.
Your grandfather and great-uncle were extras?! That is so cool, Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing that tidbit, and what an awesome connection to the movie.
Was the blob in color or was it originally in black and white?
Originally in color, to show that the blob is red (like communism).
I remember watching this as a kid! Love the dresses from this film.
Come check out the Avocado Hummus I made.
Sometimes it’s easy to identify with The Blob
This movie was filmed in my hometown! Every year there’s a festival celebrating the film. Its called Blobfest and it’s actually taking place this weekend! I’m a little biased, but I love this movie and the fashions too!
Ha, I just came here to write the same thing! Rural PA represent 🙂 I’m from a few towns over and went to highschool with the director’s grandson. FYI Modcloth readers, the Colonial theater still exists (my parents volunteer as ticket takers), it usually screens second-run indie and art house movies, and the summer Blobfest is super fun, especially the re-enacting of the scene where everyone runs out into the street screaming. If you’re at all near Phoenixville, check it out!
Emily and Alicke – Blobfest? What! That is amazing. I might have to make a roadtrip out there one summer…
The Day the Earth Stood Still will always be my favorite alien movie (the original ’50s one, mind you, not the recent remake!) — I watched it when I was little with my dad, and the dark and sinister quiet of the movie was much more suspenseful than lots of frantic action, screaming and weird, rubbery monster suits! The Day the Earth Stood Still also was ahead of its time by communicating environmental themes way before they became fashionable in the ’70s. Plus, it had some rockin’ theremin music, a real staple of ’50s horror classics! I love the cheesy and so-bad-it’s-good vintage horror movies, but why not settle for the really good stuff now and then?
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