Green Slime, The (1968)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2010-11-02 01:38

Written by: Bill Finger, Ivan Reiner, Tom Rowe, and Charles Sinclair
Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku
Starring: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, and Richard Jaeckel

Reviewed by: Brett G.

ďWhat can it be; whatís the reason?
Is this the end to all the seasons?
Is this something in your head?
Would you believe it when youíre dead?
Youíll believe it when you find
something screaming across your mind slime!"

Quick--name your favorite movies about a killer amorphous substance that hails from space. If you had trouble coming up with anything besides 1958ís The Blob (and perhaps its remake), you probably arenít alone. To the surprise of no one, itís never exactly been an often-explored concept, but there are a few stragglers oozing about out there. Warner Brothers has recently unearthed one such example in the form of The Green Slime, a 1968 MGM production that was filmed in Japan at the Toei Company studios.

In the not too distant future, a space station detects a giant asteroid thatís on a collision course with earth. Even, worse, itís due to crash down within 24 hours! A group of astronauts led by commander Jack Rankin (Horton) set out to touch down on the asteroid and detonate a series of charges to blow it up. It took Michael Bay over an hour to achieve this feat in Armageddon, but our team of advanced space badasses pulls it off in about fifteen minutes. The only problem is that a bizarre green substance attaches itself to one of the crew members; when they arrive back at the space station, the ooze feeds off of the stationís energy and multiplies into deadly monsters!

This one is a 50s B-monster movie through and through. Sure, itís dressed up in 60s clothes, with its stylish scope aspect ratio, vibrant Metrocolor, and a cheesy and oddly catchy theme song (lyrics reproduced above), but it could easily sit alongside the creature features from a decade earlier. Of course, the charmingly wooden dialogue, low budget special effects, and silly plot make The Green Slime a campy experience for any age. Itís a quaint little movie thatíll have modern viewers chuckling at the 60sí perception of the future, where the destruction of asteroids and the evacuation of space stations would be on par with mowing your lawn. The lush, colorful, and goofy fashions were likely Star Trek-inspired, and weíre all probably thankful they didnít come to pass. Itís an obviously dated experience thatíll have you giggling more so than cowering in terror.

But I suppose thatís entertaining enough, especially since the movie boils down to little more than a bunch of guys shooting lasers at monsters. The latter part of that equation is effective enough, as the waddling, tentacled monsters are at least distinctive. Theyíre also essentially unstoppable, as their blood simply serves as seeds for more offspring. Our heroes know this fact, but it certainly doesnít stop them from trying, which I guess tells you all you need to know about the characters. Hortonís performance is smarmy fun, and his rivalry with another commander (Richard Jaeckel, a familiar face to B-movie fans) really feels more like a disapproving father who's always berating a helpless son that can do nothing to please him. In reality, theyíre also in a bit of a love triangle with Luciana Paluzzi (you know her as one of the Bond babes in Thunderball), not that anyone is particularly worried about the outcome.

This is a monster movie after all, so most of the cast is just there to stand in the path of the carnage. Thereís about as much of that as you can expect from the slow-moving, one-eyed creatures, who go around electrocuting and bludgeoning the crew. To be such an obscure feature, there is an abundance of interest behind the scenes. Director Fukasaku actually went on to have a nice career directing Yakuza and samurai films, and he shows some skill behind the camera here. He generally uses the scope ratio to full effect, and there is some inventive camera work sprinkled in to give the film some visual flair. On the other hand, screenwriter Bill Finger (who actually helped to create the Batman character) has a less than stellar film resume, as he would go on to write cheese classics like Track of the Moon Beast. The script here is what sinks this one, as the concept drags on for a bit too long and the unintentionally humorous dialogue is only effective for some cheap laughs. The score, which is full of the usual b-movie fare, doesnít help the film rise above its status as a goofy little creature feature.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is the fact that it was technically the first film lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was the featured show for the filmís ďdry runĒ pilot back in the KTMA days, though it was never shown on television and has only appeared on the convention circuit. Thatís probably the filmís most telling quality, so you know youíre at least in for an unintentionally good time with this one. The only way to properly see this one is to dig into the Warner Archive Collection, which features the filmís uncut American release (the Japanese version of the film available on Region 2 DVD trims the love-triangle subplot in an effort to be more kid friendly). Though the disc is a DVD-R, the presentation shows signs of a decent remastering job--the anamorphic transfer isnít without some print damage, but the vivid colors are reproduced well. The mono soundtrack is also clear enough, and there are no special features. That shouldnít come as a surprise though, as fans should probably just be thankful for the chance to nab this one if theyíre so inclined. If you are, just make sure you settle in with a nice bowl of popcorn, a good beverage, and lively company--this one oozes some good ďbad movieĒ fun. Rent it!

For more information, please visit the Warner Archive.

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