Superstar Steve McQueen returns to face off against the screen villain that he first met back in 1958 for debuting director and star of the recently cancelled I Dream of Jeannie, Larry Hagman. In true exploitation fashion, I hope I have your attention with that Steve McQueen line. The truth is, McQueen’s appearance here is on a telecast of the original film that soon to be victim Godfrey Cambridge is watching while this all new version of the blob is creeping up the back of his rocking chair.
Aside from directing a few TV episodes, this proved to be the only feature film of Larry Hagman’s career. It’s Hagman we’re celebrating here thanks to Realweegiemidget and the Darlin’ Dallasers blogathon. With this came the opportunity for me to dust off an old VHS copy under the Son of Blob title. For those who are interested, this Hagman time capsule might find new life soon as it’s to be released by Kino Lorber on blu ray.
If it weren’t for Hagman and a few well known faces slumming here, this Jack H. Harris production would fit in with countless other seventies drive-in features never to be heard from again. Thanks to the 1958 fan favorite and the subsequent 1988 big screen remake, this oddity will always find a paragraph or two in film books devoted to the history of both the horror and sci-fi genres.
Taking up the McQueen/Helen Crump roles (Andy Griffith fans should appreciate that reference) are Robert Walker Jr. and Gwynne Gilford. They’ll spend the bulk of the film driving about their tiny town attempting to draw attention to the strange entity devouring people like their good friend and guest victim, Carol Lynley. For no apparent reason, the film starts with Godfrey Cambridge bringing home a canister containing a frozen red jelly like substance. Upon thawing out the mass promptly devours Godfrey, his wife Marlene Clark and their pet kitty cat.
In what would appear to be an attempt to gather family and friends, director Hagman has gathered faces many of us are familiar with. Folks like Cambridge, Dick Van Patten, Sid Haig, Cindy Williams, Miss Lynley, a wisely unbilled Burgess Meredith as an ill fated hobo sharing the screen with a bearded Hagman making a cameo and even Preston Hagman, Larry’s son makes an appearance.
With no apparent plotting, the mass of soupy red ooze turns up conveniently over the ninety minute running time to wrap itself around cops, dogs, and hippies in their dune buggies. Eventually it corners Walker Jr. and his girl in the local skating rink while at the same time devouring an untold number of bowlers from the local alley. Thankfully the heroic Walker Jr figures out the oozing life force’s Achilles Heel before everyone of our guest stars fall victim to the Son of Blob.
Before the final fade out, we get a wonderfully campy old fashioned 1950’s styled speech from Richard Webb playing the town sheriff on just what it is that mankind has had to defeat here on this destructive night. In true horror film fashion we get that classic question on the screen……..
To be kind, this offers a nostalgic look at the low budget fare that populated the output of horror cinema during the early seventies. With shoddy camera work and what appears to be a rather clumsy staging of many scenes, perhaps it’s best that we didn’t get a follow up from our one time director. Maybe what we needed was a catchy tune that the original offered us. Whether or not Hagman was ever offered more films is of little consequence as he was still an in demand actor. He would star in countless television shows and features through the decade culminating in his role as J.R. Ewing. On the plus side, Hagman joins an elite group of actors who would direct just one lone film throughout their careers. Laughton had Night of the Hunter, Sinatra had None But the Brave, Brando had One Eyed Jacks and Hagman, he had Beware! The Blob.
On that note I do have to say that I’ve never watched Dallas. I was at the wrong age when it was running strong though I do recall the craze of the “Who shot J.R.” frenzy. For me at the time that he was debuting as J.R. I was more interested in catching reruns of his playing Major Anthony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie. Lastly if you come across a copy of Peter Fonda’s autobiography Don’t Tell Dad, there’s a hilarious story in there featuring Hagman and the purchase of a boat worth reading about.
Don’t forget to check out the other Dallas associated topics being written about thanks to Realweegiemidget.