PHOENIXVILLE -- They came from near and far, with fire extinguisher or by vintage car, with looks that thrill or dressed to kill, to partake in the Ninth Annual BlobFest held at the Colonial Theatre this past weekend.
According to Mary Foote, executive director for the Association of the Colonial Theatre (ACT), the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1958 science-fiction film was an overall success.
"This has been absolutely wonderful and I don't see how it gets better and better every year," said Foote. "A lot of familiar faces, as well as some new faces, have come in to see the film and buy some Blob souvenirs. This event keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. We had excellent crowds at every Blob showing this weekend."
As part of the weekend's BlobFest, a 1950s-style street festival was held featuring a fire extinguisher parade, a vintage car show, a costume contest, food vendors, music, and children's games and activities.
Saturday's festivities started at noon when a group en
semble let out a loud scream, signaling the beginning of the daylong festival.
Several people attending the BlobFest took the opportunity to dress up in various costumes and disguises for the annual costume contest, one of the more popular events at BlobFest. This year's contestants were definitely up to the challenge.
The 2008 winner is Collegeville resident Domenick Scudera, whose portrayal as a giant skull monster drew rave reviews from the crowd.
Scudera, 43, an assistant professor of Theater and Dance at Ursinus College, is a regular at the costume contest, winning on several other occasions and usually finishing within the top three.
He said he appreciates events like BlobFest because he sees them as a great creative outlet.
"It's always fun to do this and I honestly don't care if I win. I love to participate and enjoy making these costumes. It's fun coming up with the ideas and spending several days working on them," said Scudera. "I truly believe that art and theater are important parts of life, and I really value it."
Scudera said that the theme was supposed to be Monsters, so he wanted to create a gatekeeper from hell motif.
"I has this great eight-foot high stick that I wanted to use," he said. "I figured by using it, that it would make me appear to be taller."
Judging the costume contest were Mayor Leo Scoda, special effects and make-up artist Tom Savini, Kuzibah and Grim Reaper from Patient Creatures, and this reporter.
Prior to the costume contest, Scoda read a proclamation from his office for BlobFest.
"BlobFest is such an important event in Phoenixville and it brings so many people into our borough to see all that there is to offer," said Scoda.
Along with the costume contest and fire extinguisher parade, there were vintage cars that were lined up along the 200 block of Bridge Street.
Vehicles such as a black 1958 Dodge Coronet, an orange 1973 Volkswagen Thing and yellow 1959 Studebaker Lark VIII, along with the 1940 Ford Coupe and 1951 American La France pumper truck that appeared in "The Blob," had plenty of people staring and taking photos.
Dave Barnett of Manheim was proudly showing off the yellow Studebaker, which he said he bought in 2004 for $610. Since then, Barnett has invested over $8,000 to fully restore the classic vehicle.
"I grew up around Studebakers," said Barnett. "I always wanted one for my own. My dad Harry helped me out, and it took us almost two years to get it on the road and legal. Now I get to take it out to shows."
Barnett said his friend Rob Jengehino told him about BlobFest, and the duo made their way to Phoenixville.
"He caught wind of the festival and now we're here," he said. "We decided it would make a great festival to show off the car."
Rob's father, Wayne Jengehino, said he's a big fan of the movie and is glad to see his son and his friend at the festival.
"I've seen the movie about half a dozen times," said Wayne. "It's campy and neat. It makes me want to go back to the '50s and how life was easier back then."
Refreshments were made available as Kiwanis Club of Phoenixville was selling both hot dogs and duck race tickets for the 13th Annual Kiwanis Duck Race. Around 4:30 Saturday afternoon, thousands of ducks were set floating off of the Iron Bridge next to the Foundry Building. Duck race results will be announced in a future edition of The Phoenix.
Serving water ice and pretzels were John and Mary Colarusso of Petrucci's Ice Cream & Water Ice, making the store's yearly appearance at BlobFest.
"We've sold a nice combination of water ice, smoothies and pretzels all day," said Colarusso. "The weather was absolutely beautiful, which always makes it a good time for frozen treats."
Throughout the afternoon, moviegoers enjoyed two showings of "The Blob," along with a special 3D screening of "The Creature From The Black Lagoon" starring Ricou Browning, in between the screenings.
Melanie Kahne, 15, and Julianna Albertus, 19, both of Phoenixville, were looking forward to seeing "The Blob" Saturday evening.
Adorned in a poodle skirt, Kahne said her mother made the outfit for her.
"She made it for me a while ago and it still fits," said Kahne. "I always wanted to come down here and be all dressed up. I'm going to see the movie tonight with my friend."
Albertus spoke about seeing "The Blob" before and her thoughts on the Street Fair.
"I saw the movie once before when I was 10," said Albertus. "I liked the Street Fair. All of the cars up and down Bridge Street were cool-looking. The atmosphere was fun and I'm glad we were here for it."
On Saturday night, Master of Ceremonies Dr. Frank N. Stone (Shane Stone), along with Vlad Tsepis, Creighton and The Invisible Man from "Ghoul A Go-Go," a New York-based horror/dance TV show, co-hosted Midnight Spook show, which was a double bill of the "The Blob" and "The Tingler."
Creighton's alter-ego, Kevin Rice, spoke about the popularity of "Ghoul A Go-Go" in New York.
"We started out at a monthly show, something that combines classic horror movies and dance music," said Rice. "It depends on the station that our show appears on -- whether they'll play the same show five times a week, or run a bunch of our shows together at once. It usually is on in the morning or mid-afternoon when kids can watch. We've also had our episodes appearing on the Internet, which gives us more exposure."
A regular staple at every Blob Fest is the presence of the actual "Blob" itself, brought out by owner and caretaker Wes Shank. Shank purchased a five-gallon can containing the actual red-dyed silicone from the late film maker Irvin "Shorty" Yeaworth in 1965.
"I first saw 'The Blob' in a 1965 re-issue at a Saturday afternoon 'kiddie' matinee at the Suburban Theater in Ardmore," said Shank. "I was 19 years old and the oldest person there, but I didn't care."
While watching the credits following the movie, Shank noticed that a film studio called Valley Forge Films produced the movie, so he did some research to see if the studio was local.
"I called and asked to take a tour of the studio," said Shank. "When I got there, it was 'Shorty' Yeaworth who gave me the tour. He still had the original Blob from the movie, so I offered to buy it from him."
Shank said the original Blob was clear, but blood-red dye was added after filming began to make it more horrifying. The actual Blob consists of two gallons of silicone, but it appeared so large on the big screen because miniature sets of actual locations were used during filming.
"It was one of the first monster movies filmed in color and it was done on 35-millimeter film," said Shank. "To see the monster in blood-red really terrified a lot of people. The producers knew sci-fi films did well in drive-ins, but back then many of the movies showed teens as bad guys. They decided to make a movie where the teenagers are the good guys."
BlobFest 2008 concluded on Sunday with a special salute to Steve McQueen at the Colonial with a screening of the 2007 documentary "An American Rebel: Steve McQueen."
The final showing of "The Blob" for the weekend took place after the documentary.
"The Blob" was filmed at the Colonial Theatre in 1957, using many local residents as extras in the film. Steve McQueen, in his first starring role as local teenager, Steve Andrews, tries to warn the town of the monster that consumes its victims completely. Only Dave, the town sheriff, believes in Andrews' story. Townspeople are shown running from The Blob, which becomes bigger and more powerful as it absorbs more people. Finally, McQueen realizes that cold is deadly to the monster. Using CO2 canisters the monster is frozen and then shipped to Alaska in the hope it will stay frozen forever.
Filling the role as Steve McQueen all weekend was McQueen Look-Alike Contest Winner Bryan Bickhart of Phoenixville, who said he thoroughly enjoyed the entire festival.
"It's been great participating in so many different aspects of BlobFest," said Bickhart.
Summing up the entire weekend was Stone, who said the festival is drawing more and more people every year.
"This has been such a great experience," said an exhausted Stone. "It's been fun watching everyone participate in so many activities, and show their enthusiasm for 'The Blob.' I love old movies, ones you can watch without being insulted I enjoy being involved with this festival, because I like seeing 'The Blob' on the big screen here."
BlobFest 2008 was sponsored by the Chester County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
An estimated 1,100 people viewed the cult-classic 1958 science-fiction movie over the weekend, which is an all-time high, according to Mary Foote, executive director for the Association of the Colonial Theatre (ACT).