The Blob Invades Phoenixville

Staff photos by Tom Kelly IV ¬ This file photo shows last year's "Run Out" at the Colonial Theatre during BlobFest in downtown Phoenixville. Hundreds of screaming fans ran from the theatre into the pouring rain on Bridge Street, fleeing from the Blob.
Participants are seen during the costume contest during Blobfest in Phoenixville. Submitted photo

During the weekend of July 11 through the 13 Sci-Fi, horror, B film movie fans and curiosity seekers will converge on downtown Phoenixville, Pennsylvania for the 15th annual “BlobFest.”

Sponsored by Staybridge Suites in nearby Royersford, BlobFest will once again pay homage to the 1958 film classic “The Blob.” This year’s festival theme, “Clash of the Kaiju,” will highlight Japanese monster films from the 1960s.

The festivities officially get underway at 7 p.m. Friday at the Colonial Theatre. Friday night events include live music by “Tokyo Joe and the Panic” and the Shorty awards (recognizing the winners of BlobFest’s eighth annual amateur short film contest). A screening of the winning films and a special dance performance with audience participation will follow with Ghoul A Go-Go and The Patient Creature characters.

Also on Friday night, BlobFest dignitary Wes Shank, caretaker of the actual Blob and author of a book on the history of The Blob, will be on hand with the Blob “itself” along with Godzilla expert August Ragone, who will also participate in a “Meet and Greet” on Saturday. The evening will conclude with the traditional reenactment of theatregoers fleeing the Colonial. While the evening is already a sellout, fans are encouraged to gather across the street from the Theatre at approximately 9 p.m. to witness the run out.

“BlobFest originally started with just showings of “The Blob,” says BlobFest committee member and enthusiast Chuck Francisco. “People would come in and pretend to run out afterwards without any kind of coordination. The theatre noticed that was happening. They wanted to not only celebrate the film and the idea behind it, but the Colonial’s part in it. It’s a great way to bring people from a further distance to check out both the town and the theatre who might not otherwise get here,” added Francisco. “Every year it becomes more and more substantial.”

“The Colonial is what gets people to Phoenixville to start with, and then all the other great things in Phoenixville bring them back,” says Francisco. “The theatre was originally selected for a film location due to its proximity to Valley Forge Film Studios, who were primarily producers of religious films. They only made three mainstream films — ‘The Blob,’ ‘The 4D Man’ and ‘Dinasorious.’”

“Originally created as the B picture to accompany ‘I Married a Monster from Outer Space,’” says Francisco, “it was discovered after the first screenings that audiences were turning out for The Blob, and so the billing was flipped. Made with a budget of a little more than $100,000, The Blob did $4 million at the box office.”

This family friendly event continues on Saturday at 11 a.m. with the annual street fair featuring live music by the rockabilly band “Full Blown Cherry.” The Fire Extinguisher Parade, paying tribute to the piece of firefighting equipment that saved the world from The Blob, takes place at noon

Throughout the afternoon, special events will continue, including the always entertaining costume contest at 1 p.m. Host and creator of Mystery Science Theater, Joel Hodgson will be this year’s guest judge. Mr. Lobo, the host of the late night movie program “Cinema Insomnia,” will also be on hand Friday and Saturday to emcee events and greet fans.

There will be a tattoo contest at 2 p.m. on Saturday and a trivia contest, co-hosted with Hodgson, at 2:30 “That’s Kaiju to You: Talking Monsters with August Ragone” is scheduled at 3. Storytelling by The Patient Creatures will take place at 2 and 3 at Steel City Coffee House. Vintage hot rod cars will be on display throughout the day. Food and a variety of unique merchandise vendors will be on hand as part of the street fair, which runs until 6.

The Colonial Theatre will have multiple showings of “The Blob,” accompanied by two Kaiju classic B films. The theatre’s third floor will play host to the “real” Blob and its caretaker Wes Shank, along with Godzilla expert and author August Ragone. Characters from Ghoul A Go-Go, a New York-based children’s show, and The Patient Creatures will greet fans.

Admission to the street fair is free. Wristbands will need to be purchased for access to the special guests, displays and vendors on three floors of the Colonial Theatre. The wristband purchase also includes a seat for either the 11 a.m. or 3:10 p.m. double feature, The Blob (1958) and Mothra (1961). The Saturday Late Show double feature includes The Blob followed by King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for the 8 show.

“The Blob is a very good film with great special effects,” says Francisco. “Because it doesn’t show anything horrific or graphic, there is nothing disgusting about it that you wouldn’t let your kids see. The Blob is one of those films that you can show them early on, and it will have a great impact and not be inappropriate. For that very reason, the film will always endure. It’s a great slice of life over the course of one evening in the 1950s.”

BlobFest concludes Sunday with a screening of “The Giant Spider” (2013), followed by a showing of “The Blob.” Spider writer and director Christopher Mihm will be on hand Sunday to discuss his film, which is an homage to the sci-fi movies of the 1950s and 60s.

Ticket prices for the Saturday and Sunday afternoon and Saturday evening double features are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7 for theatre members and children 12 and under.

“Just show up to BlobFest,” says Francisco. “Walk up and down the street, and see what’s going on. Phoenixville’s fantastic all year ‘round. If you’ve never been here, this is a great day to stop by and see what it’s all about.”

All available BlobFest tickets can be purchased through the Theatre’s website at www.thecolonialtheatre.com. For additional information, call (610) 917-1228. The proceeds from BlobFest go to the Colonial for future programming for the year.