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Monster Fight Club: The Blob vs. The Colour Out of Space!

A meteor lands in a sleepy rural community. Something horrible crawls out of it, and begins to feed. It dissolves everything it touches, turning animals and humans alike to crumbled ruins.

That's the plot of The Blob, of course. But it's also a thumbnail description of H.P. Lovecraft's short story "The Colour Out of Space", which was published in 1927, thirty-one years before the Blob oozed into drive-ins.

The biggest difference between colour and Blob is that the colour is a much hazier, more ambient threat. The Blob is shapeless, but it's attack is still fairly straightforward; it just oozes over and eats you. Steve McQueen and the other Blob-menaced townspeople are frightened, but they generally know which way to run (away from the Blob!) The creature is a definite (if growing!) external threat, and once they've been convinced of its existence, the authorities band together to defeat it with some efficiency. The Blob digests humans;  it doesn't corrupt them. Dying by Blob is much like dying by lion or bear or other predator, if the other predators were giant jellies that killed you with acid rather than teeth.

The colour out of space, in contrast, is less grizzly bear and more vampire. When the meteor lands in rural Massachusetts on the farm of Nahum Gardner, it emits a radiation of an indescribable color. The meteor quickly dissolves and dissipates, but soon Nahum's crops and the trees on his land take on the same hue. "The fruit was growing to phenomenal size and unwonted gloss…. But with the ripening came sore disappointment; for of all that gorgeous array of specious lusciousness, not one single jot was fit to eat."

Animals are also affected, rabbits and woodchucks grow large and subtly deformed. And finally even Nahum's family succumbs, their minds disintegrating before their bodies crumble into grey ash.  As Nahum's wife falls pretty to the rot, he realizes, "Something was taken away—she was being drained of something—something was fastening itself on her that ought not to be—someone must make it keep off—nothing was ever still in the night—the walls and windows shifted." Like Dracula, the colour seduces and gets a hold of the mind, seeping into the soul as well as infecting the body. Two of Nahum's boys throw themselves into an infected well to die. Nahum's body collapses in on itself. And at the end of the story, something still lurks on the land, a grey blasted patch of heath which "creeps an inch a year," while nearby there are "fat oaks that shine and move as they ought not to do at night."

Steve McQueen defeats the Blob with finality. But the colour out of space persists—as, indeed, does "The Colour Out of Space." The story was one of Lovecraft's most famous. It's often cited as his most successful effort to imagine a completely alien being, utterly dissimilar to life on earth, and beyond human understanding. The story has been adapted for film numerous times, first in 1965 as a Boris Karlof mad-scientist riff called Die, Monster, Die! and most recently in a psychedelic art horror film with Nicholas Cage titled Color Out of Space. It's also inspired a number of literary successors, including Stephen King's 1987 novel The Tommyknockers and Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation.

There's no evidence that The Blob is a direct, noxious growth from Lovecraft's amorphous proliferating horror. But given the story's notoriety, and the plot similarities, it seems likely that the Blob has the colour at least somewhere in its pulsing, otherworldly DNA.

Monster Fight Club: The Blob vs. The Colour Out of Space!

A meteor lands in a sleepy rural community. Something horrible crawls out of it, and begins to feed. It dissolves everything it touches, turning animals and humans alike to crumbled ruins.

That's the plot of The Blob, of course. But it's also a thumbnail description of H.P. Lovecraft's short story "The Colour Out of Space", which was published in 1927, thirty-one years before the Blob oozed into drive-ins.

The biggest difference between colour and Blob is that the colour is a much hazier, more ambient threat. The Blob is shapeless, but it's attack is still fairly straightforward; it just oozes over and eats you. Steve McQueen and the other Blob-menaced townspeople are frightened, but they generally know which way to run (away from the Blob!) The creature is a definite (if growing!) external threat, and once they've been convinced of its existence, the authorities band together to defeat it with some efficiency. The Blob digests humans;  it doesn't corrupt them. Dying by Blob is much like dying by lion or bear or other predator, if the other predators were giant jellies that killed you with acid rather than teeth.

The colour out of space, in contrast, is less grizzly bear and more vampire. When the meteor lands in rural Massachusetts on the farm of Nahum Gardner, it emits a radiation of an indescribable color. The meteor quickly dissolves and dissipates, but soon Nahum's crops and the trees on his land take on the same hue. "The fruit was growing to phenomenal size and unwonted gloss…. But with the ripening came sore disappointment; for of all that gorgeous array of specious lusciousness, not one single jot was fit to eat."

Animals are also affected, rabbits and woodchucks grow large and subtly deformed. And finally even Nahum's family succumbs, their minds disintegrating before their bodies crumble into grey ash.  As Nahum's wife falls pretty to the rot, he realizes, "Something was taken away—she was being drained of something—something was fastening itself on her that ought not to be—someone must make it keep off—nothing was ever still in the night—the walls and windows shifted." Like Dracula, the colour seduces and gets a hold of the mind, seeping into the soul as well as infecting the body. Two of Nahum's boys throw themselves into an infected well to die. Nahum's body collapses in on itself. And at the end of the story, something still lurks on the land, a grey blasted patch of heath which "creeps an inch a year," while nearby there are "fat oaks that shine and move as they ought not to do at night."

Steve McQueen defeats the Blob with finality. But the colour out of space persists—as, indeed, does "The Colour Out of Space." The story was one of Lovecraft's most famous. It's often cited as his most successful effort to imagine a completely alien being, utterly dissimilar to life on earth, and beyond human understanding. The story has been adapted for film numerous times, first in 1965 as a Boris Karlof mad-scientist riff called Die, Monster, Die! and most recently in a psychedelic art horror film with Nicholas Cage titled Color Out of Space. It's also inspired a number of literary successors, including Stephen King's 1987 novel The Tommyknockers and Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation.

There's no evidence that The Blob is a direct, noxious growth from Lovecraft's amorphous proliferating horror. But given the story's notoriety, and the plot similarities, it seems likely that the Blob has the colour at least somewhere in its pulsing, otherworldly DNA.

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