The Bad Movie Report

The Green Sliiiiiiiiiiiiiime

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In my review for Wild in the Streets, I made reference to this film as continually cropping up on (quick cut of man screaming)double bills at the Rialto of my youth. Thanks to a canny ad campaign entoning "The Green Slime are coming.... (quick cut of man screaming) ...are here!", I found myself packed into a dark theater with a couple hundred other screaming ten-year-olds. Which is probably the ideal condition and age for seeing The Green Slime - which, incidentally, has the bossest theme song of any monster movie ever filmed * .

As cinema likes to discover every ten years or so, an asteroid is headed on a collision course with Wait - that's not MST3K!Earth in the near (I guess) future. Fortunately, the United Nations Space Center keeps rockets fueled and ready to go, and they send space ace Jack Rankin (Christopher-George-impersonator Robert Horton) to blow it up. He picks up his crew and ship at space station Gamma 3, commanded by his old-pal-now-bitter-rival Vince Elliott (William- Devane-understudy Richard Jaeckel), and nukes the planetoid with seconds to spare, but not before a space suit gets splattered by some of the animate green slime that's creeping around like belligerent pond scum (must be a pretty dense asteroid - there's normal gravity and water).

RrrrrrRRRRRrrrrr-----Rankin continues to throw his weight around on Gamma 3, insisting on massive decontamination measures for all equipment, then retiring to a celebratory party, where he continues to make plays for his old girlfriend, now Elliott's fiancee, Dr. Lisa (second-string-Raquel-Welch Lucianna Paluzzi). The slime thrives in the decontamination chamber's radiation, growing into a cyclopean, tentacled beastie that can electrocute with the merest touch.

Not only does the beastie feed on energy, but more beasties are created whenever the monsters bleed... it's not long before Rankin's shoot-first-because-I-have-a- cleft-chin philosophy results in bunches of beasties overrunning the station. Greedy green slimes finally touch off some conveniently located fuel drums, blowing up one whole section of the station, but providing our heroes with an out: the Slimes cannot absorb energy in the form of heat. Rankin orders the evacuation of William Devane, Man of Actio -- oh, hell, that's Richard Jaeckel!Gamma 3 and plans to blow it out of orbit and into Earth's atmosphere, burning up the Slimes. Elliott protests and is put under arrest. Rankin has to stay behind and decay the station's orbit manually. He is, of course, cornered by a pack of Slimes and is rescued by his old friend Elliott, who loses his own life for his trouble. Gamma 3 blows up, life goes on, and that horse's ass Rankin probably gets Lucianna, the bum. The end.

My 10 year-old eyes, when they were not screwed shut in terror, found something, well, familiar about the miniatures in Green Slime. A few years later, I could have identified it better: they're quite Japanese. Yep, the director and crew are indeed from the land of the rising sun, and that's not a bad thing. Most of the FX, with the sad exception of some matte work during a firefight outside the station (which could have been much more thrilling with a better budget) is quite good. Of course, you could also mention that this was the same year that 2001 came out, but hey. Apples and Oranges.

The story proceeds fairly logically, and it amazes me that it took three writers to come up with it - Like I said, there's no way he's still alive.and least, that's how many are credited. There is only one instance of Idiot Plotting - when Elliott opens a door to rescue a person trapped with the Slimes, over the gun-waving protests of Rankin. This is here to reinforce our backstory - Elliott, some years past, tried to save one man and wound up getting ten killed - but what no one seemed to notice while filming the scene is that Rankin and Elliott spend so much time arguing, there is no way the trapped man could still be alive.

In fact, the most annoying thing about the script is the lack of any sympathetic characters. Elliott is the closest, though Rankin opines, "He's too nice to be a commanding officer." Speaking personally, I would prefer a CO who'd try to rescue me, if the chips were down. Dr. Lisa is pretty ineffectual in every way (except pouting), and Rankin, probably meant to be a take-charge, dynamic man of action Elliott, Rankin, and the Amazing Martincirca 1968, is simply (to speak plainly) a dick of the highest magnitude. The only character I'd care to share a beer with is Capt. Martin (sadly, I don't have the actor's name... the cast list was somehow excised from my copy). Martin is the guy who everybody barks orders to, who is put in charge of security and the evacuation, and who, when the infirmary is under attack by the first of the Slimes, charges fearlessly in, laser a-blazin'. He's like Wedge Antilles in the Star Wars movies. Incredibly competent, kicks major ass, gets no respect. The movie shoulda been about him.

The monsters, according to your tastes, are either passable or merely laughable. The red eye is Booga Booga!fairly cool, as are the tentacles, which are the primary things you notice in all the quick inter-cutting. It's when the camera lingers that one starts to go, "hmmmm..." For instance, it's noticable in at least one shot that the Slimes have arms and hands, though they never seem to have a use for fingers. Polyp-type growths depending from the tentacles are kinda cool, but the band of eyes around the torso are just plain overkill. Like I said, as a kid, they scared the hell out of me, so they still occupy a warm place in my black little heart.

That said, some of the technology on display is pretty suspect - why is there an electric cart whose only purpose is to be able to peep into rooms? Isn't it kind of dangerous to have so many Insert Skylab (or Mir) joke hereguns on a space station? (Incidentally, one of the roomiest space stations it has ever been my pleasure to visit) But I look back to 1968, and I see that all these things made a kind of sense - because in 1968, we could be pretty sure that in the future, we would still listen to go-go music, and men would wear jumpsuits while the women all wore miniskirts.

Man, I miss the future.



A painless way to waste 90 minutes.

- February 15, 1998