Remember the blubbering mass of mess that slimed Bill Murray in 1984's Ghostbusters? Forget it. Child's play. The screen's latest version of viscous viciousness is a different kettle of ectoplasm entirely. Ugly? We're talking major goo. Nasty? Makes Sean Penn seem falsetto. In fact, in the just-released remake of the 1958 B-horror classic The Blob, the silicone scene-stealer is faster, sneakier, dirtier, more voracious and less discriminating than a 10-year-old at a picnic. A football hero and a short-order cook slip down its gullet as smoothly as the town sheriff. When it comes to victuals, the Blob is not a snob. Despite the best efforts of rebel high schooler Kevin (Platoon) Dillon and a cheerleader, Shawnee Smith, the meteoric by-product digests 160 inhabitants of the sleepy hamlet of Arborville, U.S.A., and, urp, wants doubles for seconds.

Which kinda puts a different light on director and co-writer Chuck (Nightmare on Elm Street 3) Russell's claim that he aimed for Hitchcockian terror rather than gratuitous gore. "We show men melt before your eyes," he says. "It's scary, but it's not somebody getting it with a pair of shears."

Feel better? We sure do.

Still and all, after watching the faces of the Blob's victims grotesquely corrode and their eyeballs pop from their sockets, the movie audience's appetite for Jell-O might be a tad low. Likewise milk shakes, for those in the know. Seems the special-effects team made the monsters (the movie used 100 models) out of silk, latex, silicone and, mostly, Methocil, a thickening agent used in some fast-food frapp├ęs. "You've probably eaten the Blob," says Russell, 36, with more assurance than is appropriate considering the photo on this page.

Though the original Steve McQueen flick "was very innovative for its day," Russell notes, "it was made for $240,000, and the Blob just sat there." Russell couldn't leave well enough alone, and when production began on the $17 million remake, he feared he had bitten off more than he could ooze. "Something this organic and wet is very difficult to mechanize," he says. "It was like trying to make a water bed jump through a hoop."

Russell hopes the movie's humor eases viewers' queasiness. Besides, it's all over in 96 minutes. "There's a kind of fascination with fear that we all have, and a movie offers a safe exposure to that fear," he says. "No matter how much it upsets you, you can go get a hamburger afterward and talk it over." Uh, right, Chuck, but hold that shake.