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Fri, Oct 31, 2014

BURRISS: Nothing halts fun at film conference

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PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. -- Over the years, I’ve been to dozens of media-related conferences all over the world.

We’ve discussed and debated legal issues, new communication theories, trends in journalism education and statistics-based research.

All of them have been pretty interesting, and have had one thing in common: a very serious, almost end-of-the-world tone.

But, this past weekend was something new.

How many of you remember the 1958 version of “The Blob,” with Steve McQueen in one of his first movie roles?

“Indescribable. Indestructible. Nothing can stop it,” said the movie poster.

The movie had it all – science fiction, an alien creature threatening the entire world and borderline juvenile delinquents saving humanity from certain destruction.

And today, in Phoenixville, Pa., where the original blob terror was unleashed on the world, is the annual . . . Blobfest!

In the movie, McQueen discovered the cold from fire extinguishers can freeze the Blob.

So Saturday was the annual fire extinguisher parade.

In 1958 the Blob invaded a movie theater, and everyone ran out screaming. That very theater, the Colonial, is still there, and Friday night was the annual “scream-out” as patrons, right on cue at 9:30 p.m., run screaming from the theater.

And if watching the Blob four times in two days wasn’t enough, there were showings of other classic creature features such as “The Deadly Mantis,” “Them” and “Tarantula.”

I visited the Victorian-style house where the Blob ate ole’ Doc Hallen. I saw the spot where, at Jerry’s Market, McQueen discovered the Blob didn’t like the cold.

And of course, I got to see the original movie in the original Colonial Theater where the Blob started terrorizing the town.

Academic and professional conferences certainly have their places. But for sheer fun, you can’t beat a three-day festival devoted to a 55-year-old movie that has turned into a cult classic.

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