The 1958 sci-fi horror classic The Blob is about a rural Pennsylvania town being terrorized by the titular Blob, a giant gelatinous breast implant from outer space that keeps growing bigger and bigger the more people it consumes. It is also notable for starring Steve McQueen as a high school student, despite the fact that he is clearly almost 30 years old in the film.

THE TRUE STORY:

Believe it or not, The Blob is based on an incident in the 1950s when Philadelphia policemen stumbled upon a quivering purple lump that had crash landed in a nearby field, as if Grimace had suddenly been stricken with bubblegut in the middle of a hang gliding trip. According to the responding officers, the mass was like a giant glowing jelly ball, and it left a sticky residue when touched, because of course the first thing you would do when encountering a mysterious Plutonian blob is shove your hands into it.

The two cops wanted witnesses to corroborate what they were seeing, so they radioed for two fellow officers to come take a look at it, if for no other reason than to prove they hadn’t just been pranked by a couple of hopheads and alkies with 50 jars of Smuckers and absolutely nothing better to do. The blob quickly began to fall apart, and within half an hour had completely dissolved, leaving behind no trace that it had ever existed. Regardless of how ridiculous the story may seem, an official government report was made of the incident, although that likely had more to do with the Cold War than a fear of extraterrestrial preserves.

Who knows what it actually was — maybe some passing pedestrian dropped a Jell-O mold and, before the officers could come back to the scene, some passing animal came and ate it. Or maybe the guy just made the whole thing up.

Either way, years later a man named Irvine H. Millgate (who at one point in his life had the very unique job title of “Head of Visual Aids for the Boy Scouts of America”) needed to come up with a premise for a low-budget monster movie, but instead of pulling something completely out of his ass, he remembered the 1950 Philadelphia incident and used it as inspiration to assist him in pulling something completely out of his ass. The Blob became an unlikely hit, so if that purple blob creature actually returns to Earth someday, we assume the first thing it’s going to do is sue for unpaid royalties (and then get shot by Tom Cruise).

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