It’s a turgid little film that was meant for a five week run released to every drive-in America had in 1958. Instead it has become a prescient and remarkable fable, a DeLux moment in our not-too-distant culture.
The school principal’s daughter in a small town in Pennsylvania is smitten with the leader of some roughneck hot-rodders. When a young Steve McQueen takes his virginal girlfriend up to lovers lane with his buddies, they see a meteor crash just over the hill. The gang runs to see what happened and they find a small rock.
Of course, they are compelled to poke it with a stick and the damned thing opens up. They run scared, back into town and leave the space stone behind. Soon the freed creature is eating the townspeople and growing into a large red throbbing force that consumes most of the town’s blue-collar workers as well as the town doctor and his nurse.
The police certainly don’t believe Steve’s story and they blame him for the wreckage the Blob leaves in its wake. During a horror film showing in the town's movie theater, the Blob attacks and the police are finally convinced when the screaming, frightened masses run from under the marquee. Steve and his girlfriend with her little brother in tow, hide in the diner across the street.
Armed with only a fire extinguisher, Steve discovers the Blob’s only vulnerability – the cold. The townspeople all gather as many CO2 dispensers they can find and freeze the Blob until the army comes to pick it up and drop it over the Arctic. It is then, the last line of the film, that Steve sighs relief that the Blob will stay frozen as long as the Arctic is cold. The film ends with a shot of the Blob being dropped by helicopter into its frozen grave and “The End” comes on screen only to be followed by a question mark.
At the time, I’m certain audiences never expected the Arctic to thaw. In 1958, who could imagine the ice shelves that are hundreds of thousands years old would melt into icy pools of water? But the makers of the film, with their simple question mark, predicted the future in a way unimaginable to the day’s scientists.
So if you see something that looks like innocent cherry pie filling but starts to undulate, just know the results will be tragic and the end is near.