Sunday, April 7, 2013

Monster #13—Blobs

Sometimes, monsters are scary because they have a horrific shape. Spider faces, demonic visages, twisted bodies, mutant limbs, and more are classic monster parts. But sometimes, the scariest monster is the one without a shape at all. I'm not sure if it was a broadcast of "The Blob" on Creature Features or merely the discovery of amoebas in a science book that introduced me first to the idea that monsters without shapes at all could be plenty scary. Come to think of it... it was probably my dad who introduced me to the concept.

As a kid, I'd take a sheet of paper, then draw a line down the middle and then three lines across, dividing the sheet into eight smaller squares. I'd then bring the sheet of squares to my dad and ask him to draw me 8 monsters in the squares. He never failed to dream up great monsters, but now and then he'd draw a blob. He'd explain how it works—it grabs you and eats you alive, basically—and in hindsight I can't help but wonder if he chose blobs now and then because they were an easy monster to draw when your kid's asking you to draw 8 of them. I remember in particular a giant sea amoeba creeping up on a guy who was bent over a tidepool rock reaching for an abalone... even as the man reached, the blob was reaching for HIM.

"The Blob" is, of course the movie most folks think about when you mention shapeless slime monsters, but as fun as that movie is... it's not the best of its kind. The remake was surprisingly good (and just as surprisingly, a horror movie that came to the Point Arena theater), bu there's also movies like "X the Unknown" and "The Quatermass Xperiment" that feature some pretty creepy shapeless horrors. Interesting how both those two have the letter "X" in their names!

In literature, of course, blobs are all over the place, particularly in Lovecraft's writings. Shoggoths, after all, are the quintessential blobs—workhorses invented by an alien race who managed to become intelligent and rebel against their one-time masters. Hopefully Guillarmo del Toro will be able to get his version of "At the Mountains of Madness" on film some day and we'll have one more blob to ogle!
Some illustrations just name themselves.

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