Son of Blob

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Our rating: two LAVA® motion lamps.

The blob prepares to strike
a blow for good taste.
In case you didn’t know, Major Nelson dropped tabs. Yes, that’s right. No matter how clean-cut Larry Hagman seemed in I Dream of Jeannie, he was doing LSD, or so claims a new book about the series entitled Dreaming of Jeannie. And if you don’t want to accept that assertion without proof, we offer up Son of Blob (a.k.a. Beware! the Blob), Larry Hagman’s one and (mercifully) only foray into feature film directing.

Dubbed by some wags as "the film J.R. shot," Son of Blob takes place during that weird, wonderful time when the Sixties changed into the Seventies. Drug use passed from the exclusive domain of naive mind-voyagers and became the province of blissed-out idiots, and the colorful fashions of the one decade began to mutate into the eye shredding fashions of the next. Okay, maybe nothing much changed, but it sure seemed that way. It's amazing what a difference a "7" can make.

Our film begins as a scientist named Chester brings a piece of the blob back from the arctic wastes where it was left at the end of The Blob. Naturally, the scientist’s wife accidentally defrosts the piece, and soon the mini-blob is loose. After eating a fly, a cute widdle kitten, and the wife (from insects to large mammals in mere minutes!), the rapidly growing blob ambushes Chester in his leatherette easy chair. At this point we had to applaud the blob’s taste, because Chester, who guzzles beer from a flower vase, is wearing orange pants. For the love of God, orange pants!

Eight really was enough.
Adhering to the age-old laws of monster movies (and everything else in sight, frankly), the blob quietly eats various members of the populace while a couple of youngsters try to convince the authorities that the monster exists. Unfortunately for viewers, this rendition of the formula also includes the sensibilities of 1970’s TV movies, which means lowbrow humor, ridiculous counterculture characters, and Dick van Patten. No, we’re not kidding: van Patten plays an obnoxious scoutmaster who leads a troop of equally obnoxious boys into the woods, only to be eaten -- thankfully off screen, which prevents the man from hamfistedly overacting his way through a death scene. Unfortunately, the blob fails to eat the scouts, and they plague the last minutes of the film as odious comic relief.

Speaking of odious comic relief, Son of Blob features a near epic performance by Richard Stahl as the owner of the local bowling alley. Stahl has made a career out of playing officious authorities, like the head of the city council in Billy Jack, or the bank official who does a credit check on Steve Martin in L.A. Story. Watch! as he tries to convince the sheriff to arrest our heroes for sideswiping him! Thrill! as he tries to place them under "citizen's arrest!" Wonder! why he has such a large part!

"Save me, Jeebus!"
And if that isn't enough odious comic relief, Larry Hagman, as well as two friends, show up as moonshine-inebriated hobos. One of those other hobos is played by Burgess "Wauk, Wauk, Wauk" Meredith, for no particular reason. You know, this movie may feature more odious comic relief per screen minute than any movie we've ever seen. Someone should alert the Guinness Book people.

For bad movie gourmands such as ourselves, Son of Blob is actually a pleasure, because it fills so many basic b-movie watching needs: a rampaging monster, embarrassing celebrity cameos, stupid drug humor, and some spectacularly goofy death scenes. A particular favorite is the demise of a wheelchair-bound priest, who holds aloft his decorated cross before being absorbed by the pink goo. This takes place in the climactic bowling alley scene -- you just have to love any movie that has a climactic bowling alley scene -- and was such a powerful moment that, during B-Fest 2000, caused a Marine sergeant to leap out of his chair and howl in appreciation. Verily, Son of Blob's b-movie nutritive value far exceeds the recommended daily allowance.

Bill Cosby was here.
It looks like Mr. Hagman managed to bring a fair amount of money to the table to make this movie, considering the offbeat subject material. The film never lacks extras, or settings, or even appearances by the blob, as opposed to some other monster movies from this time period. But even so, some low budget touches shine through, either because this was a low budget film, or because Mr. Hagman was not the fully rounded auteur he wanted to be. Towards the end of the film the police show up in "bullet-proof" tactical vests that a lot like the lead aprons dental technicians put on you before they take x-rays of your skull. And some of the "blob-cam" shots are so simplistic as to render the "rolling goo" effect ridiculously obvious. ("Sir! The Fruit Roll-Ups have escaped!")

Such considerations are minor, however, when compared to the bizarre events that take place on screen during the film, including but not limited to:

George "the Animal" Steele is arrested
for impersonating Tor Johnson.
- A fat man in a fez, fleeing from his bath at the sight of the blob, who is arrested for indecent exposure. The man, not the blob.

- Cindy Williams as a stoned-to-the-gills party girl, testing the acoustics of a storm drainpipe with her guitar-wielding boyfriend.

- Bud Cort as a motor-mouthed druggie with a craving for ice cream, who ends up gorging himself at the bowling alley's soda shop.

Normally we'd give a film such as this just one LAVA® motion lamp, because it is so excruciatingly awful. But watching it inspires the same sort of fascination as a head-on train collision might. Son of Blob is the sort of film for which bad movie sites are made. For this sort of entertainment, which flies in the face of good filmmaking, good taste, and good sense, we award it a second lamp -- filled with red goo, appropriately enough.

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Review date: 6/6/00

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