Classic science fiction/horror film, released in 1958. It was directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. and written by Kay Linaker and Theodore Simonson. It starred Steve McQueen (in his first major role), Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe, and Olin Howlin, among others. It featured a really goofy theme song called "Beware of the Blob", written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David.

After a meteorite crashes to earth, a protoplasmic alien life form emerges and begins to absorb humans, growing larger as it consumes more people. Eventually, it is the town's teenagers who defeat the monster when they freeze it solid using fire extinguishers.

I believe that part of the reason this movie was such a sensation was that people in the 1950s were obsessed with cleanliness, and the idea of a filth monster was really scary--and certainly, one of the best high-concept horrors ever created. It was followed by a poorly-received 1972 sequel called "Beware! The Blob" and not-entirely-successful remake in 1988.

Lieutenant Dave: "At least we've got it stopped."
Steve: "Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold."

What is it about Pennsylvania that produces bizarre, yet oddly successful horror movies? Is it just because the state's name is so close to Transylvania? That's a question for minds more lively than mine. My ambition is more humble: to describe a small piece of the output, the legendary theme song of The Blob, an independently produced movie originally released in 1958.

This song is the first thing that hits you when the movie starts. It was spawned from the pens of Burt Bacharach and Mack David, (older brother of Hal David, who later collaborated on many of Bacharach's better known songs).

It opens with the kind of early electric guitar sound usually heard in the most innocent subset of surf rock, and a rhythm section with a vaguely Latin beat. After a couple of bars, some wordless backing vocals begin, and the saxophone part starts to lay down across the top of everything. Some people describe the music as jazzy. There is a hint of Latin-jazzy feel to it, but if you drew a line from this saxophone style forward into the future, you'd end up somewhere much closer to Kenny G than Wynton Marsalis.

What most people remember about the theme song is the lyrics. In both content and delivery, they don't sound like the lyrics to a sci-fi horror movie. They sound like a 1950's-era advertising jingle. The vocals are performed by a group called "The Five Blobs," which appears to have existed for no other purpose than to record this song. Some sources report there was really only one vocalist, a man named Bernie Nee, who dubbed his own voice over itself five times to sound like a group. It's certainly a believable story. These vocals carry so much clean-cut conformity, you can almost smell the Brylcreem in the identically parted heads of hair.

Here is what they sing:

Beware of the Blob!
It creeps, and leaps, and glides and slides,
across the floor, right through the door,
and all around the wall.
A splotch, a blotch,
be careful of the Blob!

Beware of the Blob!
It creeps, and leaps, and glides and slides,
across the floor, right through the door...

(Of course, in the actual song there is much more repetition, but I'm assuming you'll still get the general idea if I cut straight to the fadeout at the end. Adding to the overall charm, there is a sound effect somewhat like a cork popping, which both precedes and follows each repetition of the song's single stanza.)

Complementing this totally fifties sound experience, you get to watch a groovy graphic effect on the screen. It starts out as a red line formed into a small irregular shape, not quite circular, situated slightly off center, a bit upward and to the right of the screen's center point.

The space enclosed by the red line grows larger, its shape slowly altering as it fills more of the screen. Similar shapes defined by lines in different colors appear at the original center point and expand outward. The lines all vaguely undulate in a not-quite-lifelike manner. I presume they represent the eponymous blob, inexorably expanding to engulf the theater audience.

The effect is slightly hypnotic, sort of like a lava lamp. I like to think H.P. Lovecraft might have enjoyed watching it, had he lived long enough to see it.

watching the movie, way more times than anyone should...

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