Here's where I make the confession about the fact that I haven't actually seen either version of this title all the way through, until now. I always just found the concept almost too simple, as far as this one goes, and the '88 remake actually just scared me into not watching it. I saw the scene with the girl disintegrating in the car way too early (at least that's what I remember happening). I'd be curious to see it nowadays though, and compare the two. This version, I saw as more fun than anything horrific. It's just so beautifully cheese-tacular; the epitome of an 1950's drive-in movie.
Taking place in a small Pennsylvania town in the then-present day, Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and his high school sweetheart, Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) are doing the teen thing at a lovers' lane when they witness a meteorite make a crash landing nearby. They decide to go check it out, but what they come across instead is an old man (Olin Howland) who seems to have gotten himself into a spot of unusual trouble with something very strange consuming his hand and not letting go. The couple then takes the old man to the doctors to get examined.
Not knowing how to deal with it, Doctor Hallen (Stephen Chase) sends Steve and Jane back to the crash site to see what more info they can gather. But as they head out, whatever is stuck to the old man's hand starts growing, and consuming the man first, then moving along to consume everything in sight. As Steve and Jane try to report the blob creature to the police, however, they see them as lying and causing trouble, as it wouldn't be the first time they've been pranked by the local kids (McQueen damn near 30 here, playing a teen). It may be all up to Steve and Jane, with the help of a few of Steve's friends to try to stop this thing before it takes out the whole town; growing with every little thing it consumes.
There's not a whole lot to say about this one. I think by now, everyone gets the gist of it, and as I said before, the plot IS pretty basic. Imagine the writing room on this one, pitching ideas for some kind of unstoppable alien creature and someone says something like "let's just make it goo". I mean, I just don't see a whole lot of imagination behind such a thing. But with that said, I can't deny that because it's so basic, it's also sort of genius in its own way. What could be more inexplicable than a literal blob that simply can't seem to be stopped by anything. Although when they figure out what does stop it, it feels silly that they didn't figure it out a bit sooner.
I'm not sure that I'd put this in any sort of a "so bad it's good" category, but it is about as B movie as a B movie gets, and still incredibly cheesy, but in a good way. This is the kind of movie you wanna get some friends together and check out while chowing down on popcorn, and it would work great as a sort of return-to-drive-in flick. I'd consider it to be a pretty solid time capsule of the kind of thing horror was back in the 50s. It has to be somewhere on the top of the list of sci-fi horror from the 50s, if only because it seems to balance the horror of an unknown and unstoppable force against a sort of almost self-aware sense of humor. I couldn't see this played for scares as much as for laughs, but it's worth checking out for a good time with an old school B movie.