Saturday, October 31, 2009

Scary movies . . .

First of all, happy Halloween. Where I live now, our yards are pretty well tricked out with cobwebs and spooks. Anticipation runs high.

It's also high season for scary movies, new and classic.

Last weekend, Charlie and I happily stumbled upon The Blob on Turner Classic Movies. It was the original Blob, the one in which a 28-year-old Steve McQueen plays Steve Andrews, and Aneta Corsaut plays his main squeeze, Jane Martin. Charlie, who's an expert at identifying obscure actors, immediately announced that she was Andy Griffith's girlfriend on "The Andy Griffith Show." One Google search later, he was proved right. Again.

The Blob did not strike me as scary. These days, it comes across more as a study in Fifties stereotyping. The girls are all buttoned up to the neck in pastel frocks. No matter what the occasion, they wear layers of petticoats under their ballerina-length skirts. They're never wrinkled, never imperfect in the hair department--even when scurrying around town evading the slow moving mound of Jell-O that's mysteriously eating their fellow citizens. They shriek and faint and cannot seem to move or think for themselves. 

The boys, who are also never wrinkled or mussed, are all about hi-jinks. Their fathers appear at the sheriff's office at 3 a.m in coats and ties and Brylcreemed hair.

As for Steve McQueen, he's not yet attained his full Steve McQueen-ness. He appears slight and hesitant and oh, so earnest.  Frank Bullitt, he's not.

As for the Blob, itself.  Well, what can I say?  It was pretty cute, as blobs go.

Yet The Blob was fun to watch. Those were the days of innocence, after all, when we believed adhering to rigid social conventions and sex roles would insulate us from ourselves, from our own urges and ambivalence and fear. And when all it took to scare us was a willingness to be scared.

A creeping, person-eating mound of Jell-O? Bring it on!

One other scary movie reminiscence. The best man at my first wedding, Ron Bozman, went on to co-produce (among many other movies) The Silence of the Lambs.

One night when he was over at our garage apartment,  we watched Hitchcock's The Birds . (That's the movie in which song-birds turn viscous and begin attacking people). Now that, we all agreed, was one scary movie. It left a real Hitchcockian hangover on all our psyches.

Such a hangover in fact, that, right after he'd left, Ron Bozman, future producer of  The Silence of the Lambs, came hurtling back up the stairs to our apartment, scared out of his mind. It turned out that what had scared him was our very small dog.

If you missed Thursday's Talk of the Nation and so a great discussion of scary movies, here's a link


  1. Having been barred by parents from seeing The Blob in 1958, this post, together with a very different interpretation in Jeff Sharlet's The Family, compelled me to put it in my NetFlix queue. Sharlet's book about a rich, quasi-secret, fundamentalist mover-shaker group is fascinating, though he can get over-wrought once in a while -- maybe including when he says The Blob was a conscious effort to scare Americans about The Communist Menace. I googled it and found there are actually many debates about this Blob-As-Commie issue, and that has forced me to check out the original source. :-) CE

  2. I'm the one who commented on Nov. 5, but this time I can report on having SEEN "The Blob." No sign of Commie Menace that I could discern, but (spoiler alert) a scary hint of global warming prophecy in the film's final moment. Also I may never look at a red velvet cake the same. The creature is the exact color and texture of red velvet cake dough. :-) -- CE