The Parc Zoologique de Paris has a new exhibit of a creature that is neither plant nor animal: a slime mold. The particular species they have on display is Physarum polycephalum, although their information refers to a 1973 case when people in Dallas, Texas thought their neighborhood had been invaded by aliens when yellowish blobs appeared on lawns and started crawling up telephone poles. In their case it turned out to just be Fuligo septica, which is more commonly and appetizingly known as “dog vomit slime mold” or the “scrambled egg slime” and that’d probably put me off mushroom omelets for life if I didn’t think it was so cool.
Anyway I thought I’d take the excuse, like I need one, to consider some famous cinematic and literary blobs.
The Blob (1958)-The emperor of all blobs. The original film is one of my favorites. Some horror fans rank The Blob as the worst movie monster of all time because it lacks any personality, but the film cleverly makes a group of teenagers, led by Steve McQueen, the real focus of the story. It combines classic ’50’s paranoia and fear of conspiracy–see such non-blob related films as Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and Invaders From Mars–with an increasingly influential youth culture. It’s both an interesting meta-commentary on generational transitions and a reminder that the kids are all right. And it has the catchiest theme song of any horror film.
The Blob (1988)-The thirtieth anniversary remake doesn’t work quite as well for me, but it’s a fun ride, and the recreation of that famous movie theater scene is even more terrifying when update.
B.O.B. from Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)-Also known as Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate B.O.B. proves that brains are overrated which, interestingly, is also true in the case of slime molds. They can learn and transmit what they’ve learned to other slime molds and just looking at real slime molds I can believe they’d also have the voice of Seth Rogen.
Jell-O-I’m including Jell-O on the list because it’s horrifying. I’m with Winston Zeddemore on this one, and also my grandfather who didn’t like Jell-O because it “looks nervous”. And it was some kind of bona fide mad scientist who looked at a horse’s hoof and said, “What if I boiled one of those and put fruit chunks in it?”
Lichen from Interstellar Pig by William Sleator (published 1984)-Even though the lichen from Mbridlengile in this young adult novel isn’t described as a slime mold or blob it behaves like one, bubbling along as it feasts on all organic matter in its path. If you know a young adult reader who likes science fiction give them the gift of this novel about a teenage boy who accidentally draws the Earth into a cosmic game of death and destruction.