Worldwide Entertainment Corporation’s President and CEO Judith Parker Harris was recently approached by the Secret Movie Club to book a screening of The Blob for its members. Ms. Harris was intrigued by the Club’s concept and found time to sit down with its founder, filmmaker Craig Hammill, to learn more about the Club and why it has grown into the phenomenon it is today.
JPH: What made you think of The Blob for your screening?
CH: We always view October as the beginning of our year. Horror movies really bring out the audience and Halloween time is perfect. Every year, we try to program different titles (rather than just re-showing the same movies again and again). We did The Blob as a double feature. First, we showed the original, then the 1988 remake. Our audience loved it.
JPH: When was the first time you ever saw The Blob, or what was your intro to this film?
CH: I remember my Dad telling me the story when I was a kid even before I saw it, because he had seen it as a kid (he was born in 1951) and it had made an impression on him. My Dad always loved clever storytelling in movies, and he loved that the Blob didn't like the cold.
JPH: Why do you think The Blob resonates with audiences today?
CH: The Blob actually has a wonderful twist when you compare it to most of the great Cold War sci-fi horror 1950s movies. When you think about Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Them! or War of the Worlds, or Godzilla, the focus is usually on how the monster tears apart a community or wrecks huge destruction or represents our fear of nuclear war. But actually The Blob brings the community together to fight it. It's interesting to see how enlightened the movie is in its treatment of how teens and adults (as represented by parents, the police, the principal) try to understand each other.
And in a weird way, The Blob was prophetic about the next real threat to humanity: post Cold-War-global warming and environmental destruction. At the end, when they ship the Blob to the Arctic, Steve says that they’re safe "as long as it stays cold" and the movie ends with a question mark. I know it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but now that ending sends shivers down anyone's spine when they think that the Arctic shelf is actually melting. The Blob could come back!
Also, if you're an independent moviemaker, you have to love how clever The Blob is. We only see the monster a few times throughout the movie. Most of the scenes are between the human characters, so that's a great use of budget. Also, the movie gets very meta when the Blob attacks the movie theater WHILE the audience is watching a midnight monster movie. I love that. Who doesn't love that? And the Blob kills the projectionist!
JPH: What is the inspiration behind the Secret Movie Club?
CH: Initially, Secret Movie Club was formed in 2016 to learn about how to build an audience, market and exhibit movies. I'm a moviemaker myself, and my friends who had made features told me I needed to really understand these things. Over time though, Secret Movie Club grew in ways I hadn't foreseen. And I realized we really had an opportunity to be a community for both movie lovers and moviemakers. This has been our mission ever since: to celebrate great movies and provide opportunities for moviemakers to create new work and meet fellow cinephiles.
JPH: The Blob has been remastered, and we’re thrilled you’re showing a 16 mm print.
How is the moviegoing experience enhanced with showing a 16 mm print and how did you get it?
CH: This is always (maybe surprisingly) a complex question for me. The Blob remastered is beautiful. You notice fascinating details (like the POLIO signs in the police station or Doctor's office or the fact that the walls next to Jane's home staircase are only adorned with small portraits of Little Bo Peep (no family photos!). The re-master also beautifully showcases the great bright drive-in color and vibrant magenta of the Blob itself.
Showing a movie on 16mm or 35mm film, however, really captures how the movie was experienced by moviegoers in the 1950s (when everything was shown on film). The 16mm print we had was faded and a bit purple (as many older movie prints are), but it had the depth, texture, and tactile feeling only a film print can give.
As developed as digital technology is, it still somehow can't create the epic, special feeling of film itself. So many folks will come out to see a movie IF we're showing it on film. If we show it digitally, they might stay home, figuring they can stream or screen it whenever they want. But getting to see a 16mm or 35mm print of a great movie is something they can't do at home. So, it becomes special.