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Tuesday, August 7, 2018 | Culture

We’ve seen it a thousand times. When we see “based on true events”, I always take that with a mighty grain of salt and throw it over my shoulder like a silly superstition. Inspiration for films is almost ALWAYS taken from somewhere: a newspaper clipping, a weird memory, or even a lucid dream from the creator. However, the legacy that is the gelatinous Sci-Fi national treasure, “THE BLOB”, really is based on a “supposedly” true event based on a police report taken in Philadelphia back in 1950.

Eat your heart out Roswell.

Fortunately, and unlike the 1988 Chuck Russell film, nobody got sucked down a garbage disposal or overtaken by the putrid pink goo in a phone booth. But according to reports, one of the officers ended up tiny, pulsating globules stuck to his skin that later evaporated completely. In any case, if you’ve ever touched old, wet food clinging to dirty plates in your kitchen sink, I can imagine that would be just as disgustingly horrifying.

In the September 27th, 1950 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, readers were exposed to a pre-Bat Boy like headline that simply read, “Flying ‘Saucer’ Just Dissolves.” Take that with your cup of coffee on your way to the office, Philly folks. The piece stated that two veteran police officers, Joe Keenan and John Collins, both spotted a mysterious object falling from the sky while the pair were making their nightly rounds. Of course (and who wouldn’t be curious), the patrolmen duo followed the strange object’s decent to the corner of Vare and 26th Street, where they were met with a rather large, glittery mass of something that they later described as a pulsating, “purple jelly”; six feet in diameter, filled with a crystal like-substance, and letting off a mist of some sort.

According to both officers –  possibly the coolest detail – this globby substance seemed to vibrate and move on its own, with one other report claiming this thing crept up a nearby telephone pool. Regardless of whether it actually did or not, the fact that Aunt Fannie’s jello-mold from hell was moving at all is clearly, kind of terrifying and indicative of some type of living organism.

After the pair called for backup, James Cooper and Sergeant Joe Cook arrived at the chaotic scene, making it a total of four officers in the presence of the wondrous blob. At this point, Collins decided it was a good idea to touch the thing, tiny globules stuck to his hand and evaporated rather quickly, leaving behind an odorless scum of a residue.

Well, at least it didn’t latch on and slowly eat away at his body like this poor dude.

As with the goo retrieved by Collins, the rest of the glob seemed to disappear entirely about 30 minutes after the cops’ first sighting. The following day, the men in blue addressed the local media, claiming what they saw was indeed, a living thing… possibly from outer space. And behold, a story was born that has endured two cinematic versions throughout the past sixty years with another reboot on the way.

The article tells a fascinating tale that sounds like a common episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, or something Scully and Mulder would have encountered on one of their many X-FILES adventures. But as fate would have it, it became the inspiration for the 1958 creature feature starring Steve McQueen, and then, 30 years later, reignited in Chuck Russell’s vision. Whether you think the article itself holds any substance or chalk it off as pure tabloid garbage, this wasn’t the only report that has surfaced containing gleaming purple goo falling from the sky; albeit this IS THE ONE that inspired the first film.

Reports go as far back as 1846 wherein Loweville, New York residents claimed to have witnessed an object in the sky crash to the ground. The object in question was described as a “heap of foul-smelling luminous jelly” about four feet in diameter that also evaporated within minutes after hitting the ground. The most fascinating occurrence, however, seems to come from Australia back in 1969, when scientists managed to collect and study over 200 pounds of jelly-like material following a meteor shower in the area. These samples were found to contain amino acids – you know the chemical building blocks of life.

So I say it again, be it tall tales or true accounts from people around the world, one thing is for certain: Jell-O is the only food on Earth that gives me the skeevies because of these films. Thanks for ruining my dessert Officer Collins. 

Patti Pauley
Lover and rambler of everything in the horror genre, from the present to essentially anything concerning retro horror goodness and vintage Halloween. Patti is an active member of the horror community, writing for several websites over the years, including her own. Count Chocula serves as her Kryptonite.