Thursday, December 31, 2015

Favorites of 2015 :: Heroes, Ghosts, Sagas, Reboots, and Rehashes, the Year that Was in Film.

That time of year, Boils and Ghouls, where we get down to lists, lists and nothing but film lists as we fritter and fret over what was the best of the best and the worst of the worst of 2015. Thus and so, and here we go.

I laughed, I cried, I may have even pooped myself a little:

The Martian 
Avengers: Age of Ultron 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
Turbo Kid 
Mad Max Fury Road 
Crimson Peak 
Love and Mercy

About six months ago, I was in the local brick ‘n’ mortar video store, rummaging for some used DVDs, and somewhere, I hear the new Star Wars trailer playing with the volume turned up to, oh, about eleven. Here, I paused and just listened. I did not watch. I listened; to the music, to the X-Wing pilot giving a whoop, to Luke Skywalker’s monologue, to the familiar sounds of ion engines and laser blasts, the Falcon’s roar, a lightsaber igniting, and then, Chewie. And right there, I was seven again, with my father barely dead, my eldest sister even less so, and as my family crumbled around me I sought a safe refuge in a film franchise that has grown very dear to me over the decades since it, essentially, saved my life. A love that had survived and written off the prequels, and feels a little more hurt with each and every tweak made with each release of the (not so) Special Editions. And at that point I knew I needed this movie to be good. Not great, just good, or I might not be responsible for my own actions. And so, like a lot of people, I brought a lot of baggage into The Force Awakens. And frankly, I thought it was not only good but pretty great and it keeps getting better with each viewing. A pastiche of Star Wars? Yep. Did I care? Nope. It was fun, and I loved the new characters, especially Rey, and I look forward to see where their new adventures lead them. 

I also think history will be kinder to Age of Ultron, which appeared to hit some kind of brick-wall right before it premiered and was then hamstrung by some misguided and misinterpreted gender politics. Again, I’m on board this ride until the end of the line.  

Ant-Man was also a ton of fun, so much so that I kinda wish it could stay safely tucked away by itself and stick with its own adventures for a while. 

From Down Under came Fury Road, and it was pretty awesome and then some, but, to me, it was STILL kinda overshadowed by the sheer unbridled ferocity of Wyrmwood and the earnestness of Turbo Kid, a loving nod to the direct to video action and sci-fi films of the 1980s, with Laurence Leboeuf giving one of my favorite performances of the year as the sweet and lethal Apple the android – well, at least until Daisy Ridley showed up. 

And Krampus was utterly delightful, a new entry-level horror film that has been sorely missing since the days of Tremors (1990) and Gremlins(1984). Funny, a surprising amount of heart, and gleefully gruesome; and I’m still not sure if that was happy ending or not and I love the ambiguity and the courage it took to let it go either way. 

Crimson Peak had some tonal issues, this story called for skeletal hands and wisps of smoke, not meat-puppets, but the characters and production design were so intoxicating I soon forgot about my nits. 

Still, the most visceral film watching experience I had in 2015 was Love and Mercy, specifically the montage sequence where Brian Wilson’s efforts to get the right sound for "Good Vibrations" had me tapping my foot through the floor of the theater. I've listened to the track a dozen times since and all I can hear now is the sawing, stand-up bass that drives the song like a voracious machine. 

And yet, the best film I’ve probably seen this year was The Martian, where I found myself rooting harder for Matt Damon’s stranded space pirate, who science’d the shit out of everything, than Captain America, Han Solo and Max Rockatansky. I’m just as shocked as you are, folks. As for the rest of the films of 2015…

I'd watch it again in a heartbeat:

The Wrecking Crew 
Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation 
Man from U.N.C.L.E. 
San Andreas 
It Follows 
The Gift 
Inside Out 
The Final Girls 
Blondie's New York

The latest Mission Impossible entry almost cracked the Top Ten. Not so much for Tom Cruise, who was great, but for Rebecca Ferguson, who was even better. 

I also dug the hell out of Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Cavill and Hammer both deserved a better box-office result – not to mention Alicia Vikander, who nearly stole the movie out from under both of them. 

The taut thriller The Gift kinda soured on me just a bit when I thought about it too hard, perhaps; still, a fun theatrical experience that saw me stuck in the front row of the theater where a shock-moment proved so effective the collective gasp by the audience behind me physically drew my hair back and then blew it forward. 

It Follows was another close call. I dug it. A lot. And it was close, but not quite.

Eh. Not THAT terrible. Honest:

Bone Tomahawk 
Sinister 2 
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension 
Cop Car 
Bound to Vengeance

Just a quick note on Bone Tomahawk, a bizarre mash-up of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove and Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980), the image of the limbless and sensory deprived baby factory still haunts my dreams. *bleaugh*

So close, and yet...

The first hour of The Fantastic Four 
Jurassic World 
Into the Grizzly Maze 
Burying the Ex
The Inhabitants

Had too many issues with Jurassic World – and, for the record, none of them have anything to do with Bryce Dallas Howard’s choice of footwear. 

Yeah, I’m looking right at you, inexplicably vicious death of Katie McGrath, the creepy, sexual predator in waiting older brother, and the misguided, undulating smarm of Chris Pratt. Don’t worry, buddy, we’ll always have Parks and Rec and Guardians.

Tried and died:

Terminator Genisys 
The last forty minutes of The Fantastic Four
The Gallows 

Egads, What a waste here.

Still need to see:

Bridge of Spies 
Ex Machina 
Ricki and the Flash

And now, the older stuff.

Favorite vintage film discoveries of 2015:

Napoleon (1927) 
Quadrophenia (1979) 
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988) 
Petulia (1968) 
Harold and Maude (1971) 

A Star is Born (1954) 
The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973) 
Action U.S.A. (1989) 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) 
Killer Legends (2014) 

Hellzapoppin' (1941) 
Renegades (1930) 
Saving Mr. Banks (2013) 
Ulzana's Raid (1972) 
Wolfcop (2014) 

Stomp! Shout! Scream! (2014) 
Exists (2014) 
Lost Soul: Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014) 
Space Master X-7 (1958) 
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) 
Saturday Morning Mystery (2013)

Roar (1981) 
Whispering Ghosts (1942) 
The Battery (2012) 
Shakma (1990) 
The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014) 
The Girl Can't Help It (1956)

From The Cult Movie Project, to Hubrisween, to the usual YouTube Holes and just generally following my nose into the depths of Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, it’s been a pretty good year, cinematically speaking.

Favorite revisits of 2015: 

The collected works of my second dad, Dean Jones: The Million Dollar Duck (1971), That Darn Cat (1965), Blackbeard's Ghost (1968), and The Love Bug (1968).

The collected works of the Hot-Rod, Rowdy Roddy Piper: They Live (1988), Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988), Immortal Combat (1994), and Jungleground (1995), his gonzoid urban remake of The Naked Prey.

Catching back up with Special Vehicle Unit 2: Patlabor: The Movie (1989), Patlabor 2 (1993), WXIII: Patlabor the Movie (2002). Noa and Alphonse 4VR! 

A Thanksgiving Day Turkey marathon of Turkish Tarkan movies: Tarkan (1969), Tarkan and the Silver Saddle (1970), Tarkan vs. the Vikings (1971), Tarkan and the Gold Medallion (1973).

An ill-advised dusk ‘til dawn marathon of all the Friday the 13th movies that ended in disaster but we made it. Sort of

A couple more horror highlights came with upgrades, including Mario Bava's magnificent Blood and Black Lace (1964) via Arrow Video's new glorious BluRay that I had to get through Jolly Old Engerland. So, so, worth it. 

And Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) with Dark Sky Film's 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition BluRay. And then, Shout / Scream Factory's The Town that Dreaded Sundown, where I found out they used some of my ads from one of our sister sites in the supplemental features. 

Recreating the Studio Ghibli double-feature of My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Grave of the Fireflies (1988); such dazzling highs of joy and fits of fancy followed by devastatingly graphic plunge and cratering into woe and despair and grief that took me a whole week to recover from.

And that about sums up my film watching experience for 2015. For a more detailed list of films watched, you can check out my sporadic attempts to keep a log at Letterbox. With that, we'll see all ya'll in 2016. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Holidays :: The 10th Annual All-Night Christmas Craptacular Movie Marathon: A Very Charles Bronson Christmas and Happy Urban Renewal Death Wish-meggedon!

As it is with most holiday traditions, the problem is they just won’t die. And due to some family festivities running a bit long on Christmas Eve, coupled with a harrowing drive home through some hellacious fog, the 10th Annual All-Night Christmas Craptacular Movie Marathon had to be pushed back to Christmas Day, where once again, again, armed up with the usual pecan pie, a giant bottle of Root Beer, and a turkey sub sammich, I settled into the recliner for Operation: A Very Bronson Christmas and Happy Urban Renewal to You and Your Seasonal Affective Disorder Death Wish Armageddon New Year. 

Now, despite its Best-Selling source material, I'm sure most folks associate the Death Wish brand with actor Charles Bronson and not author Brian Garfield. Sure, the initial feature film the novel spawned was pretty good, which, in turn, spawned a slew of asinine but highly entertaining sequels; but honestly, even the more serious overtones of the first film kinda sells Garfield's book short.

First published in 1972, the novel itself is only 219-pages long and Paul Benjamin, CPA by day, aspiring vigilante by night, doesn't even get his hands on a gun until page 154. Instead, what we get is a terse and tense psychological study of a good man breaking down emotionally and getting derailed during the grieving process after his wife is killed and his daughter is raped and traumatized for life by a pack of hoodlum home invaders in the demilitarized New York City of the 1970s.

And in an interesting twist, Benjamin never does find out who attacked his family and therefore never achieves any kind of cathartic revenge; instead, he only shoots junkies, petty thieves, and a juvenile gang of vandals for throwing rocks at a subway train.

It's like watching a slow-motion car wreck as Benjamin is first crippled by fear that he slowly overcomes through rationalization, which justifies his course of action of fighting back. There's also a whole chapter dedicated to a published interview by a forensic psychologist who hits every nail on the head on what bred this vigilante. And whether you agree with how Benjamin implements this ever-escalating "therapy sessions" or not, it is completely understandable why he does it. And that is what’s really scary about Garfield’s book.

Originally, the film version of Death Wish was set to be adapted by United Artists and directed by Sidney Lumet, with a long line of actors allegedly up for the role of Paul Benjamin -- changed to Kersey in the finished script. This list included Jack Lemon, Burt Lancaster, George C. Scott, Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Gregory Peck and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Elvis Presley. (Wow.)

According to Garfield, the film was finally set to commence with Jack Lemon in the lead but then Lumet backed out to do Serpico (1973) and Lemon soon followed. And as the producers scrambled for replacements, the option on the book ran out, allowing Michael Winner and Charles Bronson -- with a financial assist from Dino De Laurentiis -- to pounce on the property for Paramount.

The honest to god social commentary of the first Death Wish (1974) film kinda makes me feel bad for lumping it in with the mounting stupidity and misogyny of the sequels. The attack on Kersey’s family is harrowing and brutal and difficult to watch, as it should be (-- though it does show director Winner’s perverted preference for oral sodomy as his favorite form of sexual assault. *bleaurgh*).

Credit to Bronson, too, for his portrayal of Kersey; a conscientious objector who knows his way around a firearm, whose character follows fairly close to the novel as our vigilante evolves. Bronson was honestly trying to play a character here, and not just riding it out on his persona as he would do in later roles.

The film was also a wonderful snapshot of dirty old New York City, and a case study in some truly hideous interior decorating. Mention should also be made of the supporting cast, mostly unknown New York character actors at the time, including Jeff Goldlum as one of the rapists, Vincent Gardenia, Paul Dooley, Christopher Guest, Olympia Dukakis, Stuart Margolin, and Sonia Manzano (-- Maria from Sesame Street), who was Winner’s girlfriend at the time. And it was Manzano who suggested Herbie Hancock to do the film’s offbeat score.

One should also appreciate the fact that Kersey’s victims don't go quietly and the dire effect this initially has on our vigilante. But I think this film might have less to do with vigilante justice and more to do with the inordinate amount of press coverage and police resources spent to catch Kersey for killing criminals as opposed to what was done to catch the criminals in the first place. And the moral gray area faced by the NYPD, who cannot deny the positive effect Kersey’s actions are having on crime rates; and so, they’re less interested in catching the vigilante and more interested in quietly running him out of town.

And this they do, with an open-ending in Chicago that not-so-subtly suggests Kersey’s job is far from finished no matter where he winds up living.

But it would take over eight years before Kersey’s story would continue, thanks to the Go-Go Boys of Cannon Films -- Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who were looking to legitimize their gonzo product by adding some star power and resurrecting known IP and moribund franchises.

Thus, after obtaining the rights from Big Dino D and signing Bronson to a multi-picture deal, Golan was set to direct Death Wish II (1982); but at Bronson’s insistence, they hired Winner to pick up from where they'd left off. Bronson also had few other demands; one, the film had to be set in Los Angeles so he could remain close to home; and two, with Jill Ireland, his real life wife, cast to play his love interest, the star forbade that anything unseemly should happen to her onscreen.

Not to worry, said Winner, who just brought Kersey’s catatonic daughter back from the first movie and introduced some fodder with a family maid to get attacked and raped in vividly excruciating detail to make our hero take up a gun again. Now, the maid dies in the process, while the daughter commits suicide in a fashion that ends just as tastefully as you’d think.

From there, Kersey goes on a search and destroy mission, targeting only those who killed his daughter and not just some random schmucks on the street -- though it’s kinda comical how he never seems to run out of bullets. There’s also an asinine subplot involving a returning detective from the first film (Gardenia), who aimlessly follows Kersey around, commits a few out-of-jurisdiction felonies, and then dies in a shoot-out saving our hero’s hash.

And then things really go off the rails when the cops get to his last target first, who is then safely ensconced inside a mental hospital, forcing Kersey to take some drastic measures and sacrifice the love of his life to complete this bloody vendetta.

Yeah … Remember all that social commentary I was touting in the first one? Well, forget it. Okay, maybe there is a little social commentary in Death Wish II; it's just been put through the Go-Go Boys filter and then shot out of their Cannon, leaving the audience to sift through the unseemly debris to find it.

If you’ve watched the excellent documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014), you'll remember no one had anything nice to say about the megalomaniacal Winner, painting him as a sadistic pervert. And from what we've seen onscreen, well, the criticism seems pretty damned valid. Still, this rehash was a big hit for Cannon and Filmways, who distributed it, meaning another sequel was soon in the works.

However, between the release of Death Wish II and the production of Death Wish 3 (1985), it probably should be noted that two things happened. One, Golan felt general audiences were too stupid to understand Roman numerals; and two, life imitated art as native New Yorker Bernhard Goetz shot and seriously injured a gang of four men who were allegedly trying to mug him. Brought up on attempted murder charges, the real-life "Subway Vigilante" was acquitted of everything except for the charge of carrying an unlicensed gun. (He would later lose a massive civil suit.)

Now, I for one have never believed in Woody Allen's New York, but felt Michael Winner, Frank Henenlotter, Abel Ferrara, Sydney Lumet and the TV show Barney Miller (1975-1982) were a little closer to the truth about life in the Big Seedy Apple back in the 1970s and '80s. Regardless, Goetz was both vilified and championed for his actions, just like his big screen counterpart.

Meantime, Michael Winner loved the idea of Paul Kersey as the hero of the people, facing down a street gang that had been terrorizing elderly citizens and commissioned a screenplay from Don Jakoby, who wrote the scripts for Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce (1985) and Invaders from Mars (1986) -- two more high profile flops for Cannon Films, essentially turning Kersey into an urban John Rambo.

True to form, despite a ton of flack over the utter crassness of the first sequel, Winner took Jakoby's script and pulled out all the stops, kept in all the exploitative and salacious elements from the second film, and then added a metric ton of stupidity, escalating things from covert vigilantism to open warfare on the streets -- to the mortification of Jakoby, who had his name removed from the credits, and his star, Bronson, who found the resulting escalation of violence pure nonsense.

Here, Kersey returns to New York when an old friend who knows what he's capable of sends him a desperate plea for help. Seems his tenement and neighborhood are under siege by a local crime element, led by Poor Man's Jake Busey, Gavan O'Herlihy. Alas, this message came too late as this friend gets murdered by some colorful post-apocalyptic street punks who, I assume, were leftover extras from Golan's The Apple (1980).

Then, in another twist, this time, Kersey has the full backing of the local police precinct because, and I quote, “He can do what they can't.” And what he can do is murder the living hell out of people with extreme prejudice. Eventually.

Yeah, its not until after Counselor Troi from Next Gen gets gang-raped, his new bestest bud (Martin Balsam) gets chucked out of a second story window, and Kersey's newest expendable girlfriend (Deborah Raffin) takes a one-way trip down a very steep hill in a very combustible Buick (-- because Martin Balsams bounce and Combustible Debora Raffins combust, that's why --) before our hero finally makes his stand.Murder! Murder! Murder!

Now fully on the warpath, Kersey starts out small, using a board with a nail in it; and then a bigger board with a bigger nail it; but then gets serious with a 30-caliber machine gun and a bazooka in his one-man crusade for urban renewal, making the final score: Body Count - 83, Due Process - 0.

I guess if watching bad movies teaches us anything, we know we shouldn't meddle with a Native American burial ground, get on a plane if William Shatner's on board, and to never, ever, become romantically involved with Charles Bronson in a Death Wish movie or your sentence is a forgone and ludicrous death.

Michael Winner and Charles Bronson, Death Wish (1974).

You know, there are days where I really wish I could live in the Menahem and Yoram (Mayhem and Urine to others) Cannon universe where crap like this, The Apple, Ninja III: The Domination (1984) and Breakin' (1984) can happen. Actually, it would be kinda cool if all of those were in the same shared universe. Noodle that one for a bit, true believers. Also, Death Wish 3 is everything Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) could've and should’ve been, dammit.

Okay. Apparently, Winner and Bronson had a massive falling out during the filming of Death Wish 3 over *ahem* “creative differences,” which meant the controversial director was out and J. Lee Thompson was in for Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987).

As originally scripted, the film would borrow heavily from the plot of another Thompson, Bronson and Cannon collaboration, 10 to Midnight (1983), with Bronson's matrimonial ambitions once more ending in the rape and murder of yet ANOTHER spouse! But this time he catches the creeps and turns these perpetrators over to the police -- only they wind up getting released on a technicality, pushing Kersey back into murder-bot mode.

But these notions were scrapped for something different. Well, sort of different. But not really. See, this time, when the daughter of his latest flame (Kay Lenz) dies of a drug overdose, Paul Kersey declares war on cocaine; and when Kersey declares war on drugs, just “Saying No” ain't gonna cut it and, between you and me, cocaine totally had it comin’ and doesn't stand a chance.

From there, Kersey is kinda clumsily plugged into a botchilized dinner theater production of Yojimbo (1961), where, under the guidance of a tabloid publisher (John P. Ryan), who also lost a daughter to drugs, our vigilante is essentially hired to ‘piss in the pot’ of two rival trafficking factions, setting them against one another with some strategic hits, and then lets them wipe each other out. This works remarkably well until a late monkey-wrench in the plan surfaces and Kersey finds out he's been duped into clearing out the competition for a new player.

Honestly, Death Wish 4 isn't half bad as far as mid-80s action vehicles go. In fact, the climactic shoot-out at the roller-disco and video arcade is really quite good with some outstanding set-ups by Thompson and DP Gideon Porath. Once more, the main bad guy meets a rather hilarious exploding end at the hand of a rocket-propelled grenade.

And, oh, Holy Crap! Poor Kay Lenz. She basically disappears for half of the movie, tucked away somewhere safe, only to wind-up a hostage for the grand finale. And then, to the shock of nearly everyone, our expendable love interest appears set to survive -- only to finally be gunned down with only four, FOUR, four goddamned minutes to go in the film. Sorry, lady, I was really pulling for ya there. And while definitely a record for longevity in one of these things, she still never had a chance in this franchise, making this afterthought killing even more sad and cruel.

Now, by the time the fourth Death Wish sequel went into production, after a string of high profile flops and over-extension on all fronts, Cannon Films was in some deep financial doo-doo. A lot of corners were cut during the production of Death Wish 4, most notably the soundtrack, where it was completely scored with tracks from earlier films, including Missing in Action (1984) and Invasion U.S.A. (1985).

And after Cannon finally collapsed and the Go-Go Boys split-up, Menahem Golan, while trying to make a comeback, independently financed another sequel, Death Wish V: The Face of Death. And while I had every intention of watching it as well, alas, Amazon did not have this installment streaming like the first four, meaning our 10th Annual All-Night Christmas Craptacular Movie Marathon came to a premature end. Boo! I said, Boo!

Well, I wouldn't say the evening was ruined, as memory serves the fifth rehash was the EXACT same movie as part 4. Not as nutty as part 3, or as vile as part II, and his new girlfriend dies a lot sooner, and her transvestite killer gets offed by an exploding soccer ball. And so, there ya go.

"There's no moralistic side to Death Wish,” said Michael Winner. “It's just a pleasant romp." Said Brian Garfield, who was mortified by the entire film series based on his book, "They'd made a hero out of him. I thought I'd shown that he'd become a very sick man.” When asked, I’m sure Bronson squinted a little harder before grunting something.

As for me? Well, I think the first film has merit, and find the second heinously vile on almost every level; the third is relatively harmless and a hare-brained train-wreck of awful that borders on self-parody; and then the fourth is actually a pretty good movie of the era and vintage.

Put them all together and you got a tonally inconsistent mess that will probably resemble my stool sample in the morning after consuming all that pie and turkey. And with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday, Boils and Ghouls. Or Bah! Humbug, where applicable. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Favorites :: Vintage Tuneage :: Couldn't Miss This One This Year.

Video courtesy of scamparoo.

"So deck those halls. Trim those trees. 
Raise up cups of Christmas cheer.
I just need to catch my breath; 
Christmas by myself this year."

One of my all time favorite Holiday tunes,
courtesy of The Waitresses.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Never Noticed THAT Before :: Creeping the Leak in Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont's Remake of The Blob (1988).

The first time I watched Chuck Russell's remake of The Blob (1988) at the old Imperial 3 Theater I thought it was pretty good as far as rehashes go; a fairly faithful modernization of a classic creature feature with what I thought, at the time, contained one bizarre flaw. That flaw being Where in the hell did Sheriff Geller go? He was there, and then suddenly he up and disappeared never to be heard from again.

See, the first time through the film, already reeling from watching the poor fry-cook getting sucked down the kitchen sinkhole by our titular and every-growing gelatinous mass of death (-- now that was a helluva scene), when poor Franny (Clark) barely makes it out of her cafe alive and into the phone-booth to call the Sheriff (DeMunn) for help, with whom she had a sweet romance that was about to burgeon, I was too busy focusing on Franny's plight, stuck inside the glass enclosure, as the blob oozed its way around, encasing and eventually crushed her fragile sanctuary, that I failed to recognize the half-digested corpse already floating around the creature's undulating mass. 

Nope, it wasn't until the second viewing a few days later in the very same theater when I finally noticed the Sheriff's badge on the corpse. My bad. And with that, a pretty good movie got even better in my opinion.

But it wasn't until I dusted off the DVD and watched The Blob again around Halloween time this year that I finally noticed something else, the death of a far less significant character until you realize who it might have been. Okay, bear with me, here. 

Now, do you remember the scene where our heroine, Meg (Smith), breaks into the local theater, looking for her little brother, only to find the Blob has already beaten her there and in the process of gruesomely processing a lot of moviegoers into something more ... digestible? 

And then in the middle of all that chaos and mayhem, Meg trips over that one girl, lying unconscious in the aisle?

Now, if you remember back to the beginning of the film, to the football game, this same bespectacled gal was a fellow cheerleader. 

A best friend perhaps? 

Which would explain why Meg would stop and reach out for her in all that pandemonium and imminent death. 

And why it adds a little more weight when this all proves for naught. 

Never noticed that before and I love uncovering little details like that. Alas, the part is un-credited. And 'part' might be stretching things a bit. Still, it's a memorable death in a film chock-full of them, with some outstanding F/X provided by Dream Quest Images and Anatomorphex.

Often forgotten about when people talk about decent monster movie remakes, director Chuck Russell and screenwriter Frank Darabont had teamed up the year prior with Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987), easily the best sequel in that franchise until New Nightmare (1994), and together, they co-wrote the remake of The Blob. I'm not sure if the big twist of making the Blob a man-made pandemic was necessary but it works well enough. Darabont is a huge fan of Stephen King and between the mutant extinction-level germ gone awry to many character names, The Stand definitely had a huge influence on the screenplay. 

I can tell you for sure that one of the best things they did was twisting-up one of the central plot points, making it not about “closing the beaches” despite the danger in this derelict winter resort town but the fact that the beaches were already closed and how the lack of snow was counter-productive when it comes to the monster. I can also dig the subverting twist that sees the nominal hero (Leitch) get eaten in the first fifteen minutes of the film but, in hindsight, if they really wanted to be subversive it was the rebel outcast (Dillon) who should’ve been the one to get blobbed to death.

The Blob (1988) TriStar Pictures / EP: Andre Blay / P: Jack H. Harris, Rupert Harvey, Elliott Kastner / D: Chuck Russell / W: Chuck Russell, Frank Darabont / C: Mark Irwin / E: Tod Feuerman, Terry Stokes / M: Michael Hoenig / S: Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark
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