Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up (10/16)

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
I love Monty Python but this is not one of their better works. It feels like a long episode with segments that are loosely connected. There are more musicals numbers than usual and they are hit or miss. I liked the short film at the beginning The Crimson Permanent Assurance (technically a separate film as it is sometimes shown with the feature but The Meaning of Life is never shown without it) directed by Terry Gilliam. I laughed quite a bit but these guys can do much better as seen in Holy Grail and Life of Brian. It was a bit of a disappointment but still not bad at all and I'm glad I saw it for completion's sake. I guess the biggest problem was that this was a sketch movie and didn't have the focus like the Monty Python's other two films. For example some of the segments felt like they went on too long and since the topic (life) is so general there are no recurring characters. If you are a Monty Python fan you will certainly enjoy this movie, but if you are just getting into them start with Monty Python and the Holy Grail or their TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The Blob
The Blob is a remake of the 1958 cult classic. While the original was not a great film, the blob was one of the most creative monsters of the time period and its still a fun watch today. I wrote about it when I saw it at Blobfest this past summer.
From a technical aspect the movie was better made than I was expecting. The practical special effects are quite good and still horrifying. There is also a nice cut early on from the blob taking over guy's hand to a kid eating jello. The acting is average at best although I enjoyed Art LaFleur as Mr. Penny the Pharmacist and Jack Nance's cameo as a doctor.
The 1988 version tries to be like John Carpenter's The Thing by putting a darker tone to a 50s monster movie. However there is still a decent amount of humor which makes the tone of the film go back and forth from campy fun to creepy horror.
Speaking of Carpenter's The Thing, the blob in the 1988 version acts more like The Thing in the way it takes over bodies. In the original people were absorbed into the blob which made it grow larger and more powerful while this time the blob appears to hide within bodies.
Besides the tone, I noticed the pacing is off. The scene with the freezer is similar to the one in the original, but its placed way too early in the film. Some characters are given a decent amount of set-up time only to be killed pretty early on (the football player who seems to be the main character at first, the sheriff, the restaurant owner). The sub-plot with the priest felt out of place and didn't make a lot of sense. The ending was also kinda abrupt and felt like they were setting up a possible sequel which never came to fruition.
There is a plot twist in this version that the U.S. is responsible for the creation of the blob as a biological weapon. This was an interesting development that differentiates it from the original, although the way its done is quite similar to how the Weyand-Yutani Corporation wants to use the Xenomorphs as weapons in Alien and Aliens. Even the new stuff in this remake had been done before, and better.
I liked the 80s rock song over the end credits ("Brave New Love" by the band Alien) although I'm 99% sure it was only here because of the Dokken songs in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors which came out the year before and did quite well at the box office. The Blob (1988) was a commercial flop when released although it seems to have a somewhat better reputation today, probably because its practical effects have aged so well.
Despite my issues with the remake, I still had fun watching it. I would still recommend it to anyone who likes sci-horror films that don't take themselves too seriously. But if you are only going to see one blob movie, stick with the original. And if you ever get the chance to attend Blobfest I highly recommend it! I had tons of fun and it was one of my favorite cinematic experiences. It was awesome to actually be in the theater that The Blob was filmed in, while watching The Blob! I don't know if the remake is ever shown there but it would make a nice compare/contrast double feature.

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