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  Beware! The Blob Red Menace
Year: 1972
Director: Larry Hagman
Stars: Robert Walker Jr, Gwynne Gilford, Richard Stahl, Richard Webb, Carol Lynley, Godfrey Cambridge, Marlene Clark, Gerrit Graham, J.J. Johnston, Dick Van Patten, Tiger Joe Marsh, Randy Stonehill, Del Close, Cindy Williams, Burgess Meredith, Larry Hagman
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Chester (Godfrey Cambridge) is spending time in his camping tent with a few beers - quite a few beers, actually. And his tent is pitched in his own living room, which is tolerated with remarkable good nature by his wife Marlene (Marlene Clark) who has just returned from grocery shopping. She chats to him as she puts away the groceries, then he retires to his tent to fill a flower vase with beer while she feeds their kitten, Samuel. But what's this on the kitchen counter? It's a mysterious canister of unidentified red matter that Chester has brought back from the lab, a red blob that consumes a fly that is unlucky enough to land on its surface... and Samuel, Marlene and Chester are next on the menu.

Producer Jack H. Harris obviously decided to ride the crest of the wave of nostalgia for the nineteen-fifties that broke in the nineteen-seventies by instigating a remake of his own 1958 horror hit, The Blob. Something he would do again in 1988, only that time cashing in on the newfound freedom that special effects would enhance the original, ingeniously simple idea. The more it eats, the bigger it grows, and in this version the notion is not messed around with. What is messed around with are the surrounding characters, because this film is supposedly a comedy, directed by TV star Larry Hagman of all people.

Promoted on its re-release as "The Movie that J.R. Shot!", this version is about as funny as that joke. Not that there is anything resembling a recognisable joke here, more situations that come across as improvised comedy workshops that ramble on with incessant chatter. The opening in particular drags on for what seems like half an hour of nothing happening so that eventually you are willing the nascent Blob to eat somebody or something just to see anything significant occur. To its credit, the film improves as is goes along, but its seems fatally uncertain of how funny or how scary it's supposed to be.

In the Steve McQueen role is Robert Walker Jr playing Bobby, whose birthday it is this day the monster attacks. His friends are arranging a surprise party, but first his girlfriend Lisa (Gwynne Gilford) has to bring him to the venue; meanwhile she goes over to visit Chester and is horrified to witness him being consumed by the killer jelly, running out of the house in a panic. As in the first film, no one will believe the young people when they try to tell the authority figures about the threat, so there is a lot of timewasting business with Bobby and Lisa trying to persuade victims-to-be that the danger is real.

Hagman has a few guest stars appear to be eaten up, including Cambrige, Burgess Meredith as a down and out, Carol Lynley as one of Bobby's friends and a certain Mr Hagman as well. None of them dispel the overall atmosphere of tedium, which is slightly reduced when the script (there was a script, right?) dispenses with the humour and goes straight for the thrills. After swallowing most of the cast, the Blob ends up at a bowling alley where it plans to feast on the patrons, and the special effects here are not too bad, if nowhere near as gory as the eighties version. It takes a while for Bobby to realise that the terror doesn't like the cold, and from there it's a brief journey to the ice rink. Easily the least of the killer shapeless mass movies, Beware! The Blob is just as easily forgotten, its novelty value notwithstanding; for laughs, you'd be better off with I Dream of Jeannie reruns. Music by Mort Garson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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