Recent times have seen Hollywood studios plunder their back catalogue to produce a number of horror remakes of films, some of which, haven’t yet earned the right to be rebooted and have barely had time to mature into the position of cult status.

With the odd exception (I’m thinking here of 2006’s The Hills Have Eyes) the majority of these have been dull and insipid, falling into the trap of either being too faithful to what have come before and failing to offer a fresh perspective for the audience, or have deviated too far from the original source material, alienating fans instead. Admittedly, it’s a fine line to tread, but two examples from the late eighties successfully managed to achieve both.

David Cronenberg’s The Fly (which was essential afterschool viewing on a regular basis) was one of these – a perfect marriage between the gross-out body horror of the decade, combined with a more cerebral message, tapping into that generation’s fear of Aids and the unknown, long-term affects of the disease. Another (and perhaps purer example of a modern remake) was the 1988 version of The Blob.

Much like the 1958 original (which starred a young Steve McQueen), The Blob begins with a meteorite crashing down to earth in small town California (replacing the Pennsylvania setting of the first film). It’s also here where we met the film’s star (Kevin Dillon), for the first time. Playing the high school trouble-maker Brian Flagg (and sporting a mean-looking Jean Simmons/Martin Riggs-esque mullet), he’s first introduced while trying to perfect a ledge-jump on his motorbike (another tell-tale sign of a rebellious streak), but it’s a stunt which he inevitably fails to pull off. No prizes though for guessing if he manages to clear the same ravine later on in the film, whilst evading the bad guy scientists. Dillon (younger brother to 80’s mainstay Matt) has become well-known again in recent years due to his performance in TV’s Entourage, and his character’s back-story on the show slyly mirrors and spoofs the roles he was actually cast in during his earlier career.

Brian is thrown together with popular cheerleader-type Meg (future Jigsaw victim Shawnee Smith) and her date for that evening, football jock Lance (Donovan Leitch), when they encounter an old tramp by the roadside who appears to have a painful, jelly-like substance attached to his hand. The three decide to take him to the local hospital which, unbeknownst to them, unleashes the alien gloop on the unsuspecting townsfolk.

It’s here where the writers cleverly deviate from the original material when (spoiler) the closest character this film has to McQueen (good-looking quarterback Lance), becomes the second unwanted recipient of the blob and ends up being turned into a bubbling, mushy pulp in front of Meg’s eyes. Ditching the traditional expectations of the hero is always a fun genre subversion, and it’s entirely to the credit of the film’s creative team Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell (who also directed).

Previous to this, both received screen-writing credit on the third Elm St (alongside Bruce Wagner and Wes Craven), and it’s clear throughout The Blob that these guys possess a real love and affinity for the B-movies of their youth. Darabont, the more well-known of the two thanks to his universally-beloved adaptation of Stephen King short The Shawshank Redemption, shows a good grasp of story here and it’s nice to see that he revisited the genre recently with another glorious B-movie throwback, The Mist, and is now one of the creative forces behind the TV adaptation of famed zombie comic book serial, The Walking Dead.

As a homage to those old horror favourites, the two writers stage the film’s action within an instantly recognisable small town Americana setting, which looks like it’s been frozen in time. You have the Mom and Pop cafeteria, the under-staffed police station complete with a kind-hearted, lonely sheriff (guess what fate awaits him) and some sinister scientists (are there ever any other type in these films) who look like they’ve stepped out of some 50’s atomic disaster flick.

Having seen the film again recently (why this isn’t available on Region 2 is a real mystery) I’m happy to report that it remains as enjoyable as it was those twenty-odd years back. The blob effects still look a little shoddy (probably a conscious decision by the makers) but the deaths caused the killer Blancmange are still gorily effective.

Maybe the success of this film (like The Fly) can be attributed to the fact that the original B-movie material hails from a much tamer era and innocent time in pop culture, and because of this, lends itself to a semi-serious, modern-day interpretation. To remake something like edgy road movie slasher The Hitcher (which is only 14 years old anyway) strikes me as a redundant move, purely down to the fact that the original’s content is already in-step with a modern audience’s expectations of the genre. To then populate the cast with bland and personality-devoid Hollywood youngsters further alienates the intended demographic.

Actually, maybe turning The Blob against this type of modern-day teen actor (and there have been whispers of yet another version) might make for a satisfying cinema experience after all.