Blobfest

Blobfest-2013-banner-Phoenixville

Every year around this time, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania takes its turn in the cult-film-celebration spotlight by way of their annual Blobfest. In case you didn’t know—is there anyone who knows The Blob who doesn’t, though?—the town’s Colonial Theatre plays a starring role in the monstrous mayhem of the 1958 monster mini-classic, when the titular creature creeps and leaps and glides and slides across the floor, right through the door, and all around the wall(s) of the quaint little movie palace, which even today retains much of its vintage charm.

They really make a weekend of it at Blobfest, cordoning off the street where the theater is located in order to free fun-seeking filmgoers from car traffic—all the better for them to peruse the wares on display from street vendors on hand to hawk their (mainly) movie-related merchandise. A monster kid could wind up spending a mint here, even if the actual stretch of merchants is rather on the smallish side. Comic books? Check. T-shirts? You betcha. Indie artists with their own unique tilts on monsters, superheroes, and sundry other pop culture fixtures? Sure: Buy local!

In addition to the usual Blob-related remembrances (which this year included appearances by Keith Almoney, who as a child played oh-so-cute, cap-gun-totin’ Danny in the film, plus the son of director Irvin S. “Shorty” Yeaworth, Jr.), there were special guest slots for Cinema Insomnia’s horror host Mr. Lobo and two members of the chiller-themed comic trio Ghoul A Go-Go; multiple screenings of The Blob took place as double-bills alongside other goofy classics of the “giant bug” subgenre, including Them!, Tarantula, and The Deadly Mantis.

Blobfest is also special in that there’s a commemorative re-filming of the movie’s famous “run out” scene. Buying a ticket guaranteed you the opportunity to run screaming out of the front entrance of the Colonial and being filmed for, uh, posterity. No, I didn’t…but here’s an excellent amateur videographer’s appropriately jittery record of what I imagine to have been the chaos and good cheer of the event, taken from the inside:

For me, The Blob is really all about Uncle George. My late uncle George Karas played Officer Ritchie in the film—a character given his own unique little quirk of playing long-distance chess with another policeman over the station radio. In one scene, Ritchie is left to watch over things while his colleagues join “teen” Steve McQueen, venturing out in search of the ever-growing, cherry-red menace. That’s when his “big” moment, and his most memorable line, arrives:

Blob-George-Karas-Officer-Ritchie-Shucks

Today, viewing the film in a theatrical setting with a big crowd proves to be a mixed experience. I own the Criterion DVD, and watching it on occasion at home, I’m usually struck by the film’s golly-jeepers sincerity and how, if you’re in just the right mood, it can still be kind of creepy…in spots. The mood in the Colonial at the screening I attended, it must be said, took on a little more of the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 feel, as exhibition on a giant screen can’t help but pull the film’s hokier qualities out front and center. At various times, we were either laughing with or at it. A sustained closeup of McQueen reacting got a raucous howl; Uncle George’s sheepish dialogue when the other cops discover his chess set, when he confesses that when you’re alone you gotta do sumthin’, got a big laugh that sounded to me a little on the dirty side.

The best and most relevant modern-day moment screening The Blob comes, happily enough, with a massive payoff at the very end, when it’s determined that the best thing to do is to get the military in there to pick up the now-frozen beast and drop it where its parasitic powers will remain locked in ice forever…or…

“As long as the Arctic stays cold,” says McQueen.

Big, big, big laugh.

Beware of The Blob!

Blobfest-2013-Colonial-Theatre-Phoenixville

  • ganderson

    I clearly remember having the beegeebers scared out of me by ‘the Blob’ as a nine-year-old who really loved a good horror/scifi flick. But . . . two or three years ago when I was putting together my DVD collection of A-list science fiction from the 1950′s, I watched Blob again for the first time in 50 years and man, what a stinker! Either it changed or I did in the intervening decades, but it sure wasn’t what I remembered. Compared with ‘Day the Earth Stood Still,’ ‘Them,’ ‘Body Snatchers,’ and ‘the Thing,’ Blob is only worth looking at for history-of-scifi-cinema purposes. Watching it again also pointed out what a really inadequate actor Steve McQueen was — he may have been the epitome of 1960′s cool, but he was no thespian. Not withstanding, the “Blobfest” sounds like a lot of fun – full of good cheer and the love of classic motion pictures, even the stinky ones.

    • Steve McQueen fan

      Ganderson,
      Steve McQueen could act.
      Have a look at the SandPeebles or he Great Escape.

      • Bruce Reber

        Not to mention “Never So Few”, “Hell Is For Heroes”, “The Thomas Crown Affair”, “Bullitt”, “Papillon” and “The Getaway”.

  • Gord Jackson

    It sounds like a lot of fun. I have all of the titles mentioned in my collection but am quite perplexed at I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF. its package mate INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN and a few other (ahem) ‘gems’ from the era not yet available on DVD. Seems to me it’s about time they were released for us diehards.

    • jan

      And I will buy all they make available. They just don’t make movies like they used to!!!

  • Wayne P.

    Watching George play chess in the pic above reminded me of a similar scene from the 1988 remake when the ooze overhead was just waiting to drop trough on the guy below! Both were pretty good but only the original was a classic and hes still blob, blob, blobbing along as he bestrode (or is it bestrides?) the Colonial.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Was there actually a chess-playing cop in the remake? If so I might have to break down and actually watch it.

      • Wayne P.

        Nope, hes not playing chess, sorry to say…but hes in the office late at night and, ‘its a pretty good show’ (as ole Ainge would say to Barn;)!

  • Movie Fan

    Nostalgia is what ties me to these goofy old films. As an adult, I saw the original Blob again. It brought back all the feelings I had when I was a kid, watching Saturday late-night TV with my friends or family…when TV stations signed off at midnight. The nights were darker back then and the possibility of monsters seemed legitimate. These movies were scary in a fun way, unlike the realistic depictions of horror shown now. I could laugh at myself for being scared of a rolling wad of gum or hairy ants that sounded like an air conditioner with a problem. I always knew it wasn’t real, that Earth was never going to battle the unknown menace. I was safe, watching monsters from the comfort of my living room, knowing if things got too bad, I could win the war simply by turning the knob to “off.”

  • Fred

    “King of cool” as always.

  • John Thomas

    Several scenes were also shot in the Downingtown Diner which no longer exist in Downingtown, PA. Producer shot parts of The Blob at a studio in Valley Forge, PA. The diner used in the movie has been replaced and operates as the Cadillac Diner in Downingtown, PA.

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