The Bad Movie Report

The Slime People

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Only the finest crap is allowed to display this emblem.There are some calling cards that let you know that you're in for a rough ride. The very first indication you get this time is the Medallion TV logo that graces the very beginning of this flick; that alone lets you know you're in for a big Slab O' Hurt. Well, not exactly pain in this instance, but - and there is no kind way to put this - mediocrity.

StompTokyo's Chris & Scott first pointed out that nudity in the first scene of a film was a sign of a rocky road ahead, to which I have added a) a beginning montage of stock footage (as in Octaman or The Deadly Mantis); or b) being shown the monster right off the bat (again, same two offenders). Slime People dodges the first two bullets, but takes the last one square between the eyes; the first thing shown is several shots of the titular monsters, rising from below and shambling about (and it is sincerely hoped you like these shots, because you'll be seeing them again, later). Then we see a dead body on the beach, transfixed by a spear. This, I suppose, is our backstory.

We then meet Tom Gregory (Robert Hutton, who also directed), who is having trouble landing his "How could we afford to get a camera up there?"plane in a dense fog. This he finally does, and finds not only the airstrip deserted, but his plane is coated with a slimy substance. Up drives Prof. Galvin (Robert Burton) and his two daughters, Bonnie (Judee Morton) and Lisa (Susan Hart). They fill Tom in - turns out there has been an invasion from below the Earth's surface, and the fog is the invaders' doing. Everybody else has evacuated, but the Prof and his daughters were up in the mountains and didn't know. Now the fog has somehow solidified into a dome surrounding the city, and they are trapped inside with...The Slime People!

Boy, this sounds much more exciting than it actually is - trying to write a plot synopsis, I feel my brain falling asleep, starting to stray to more worthwhile pursuits, like Doom, cleaning up my office, rewinding my dental floss... you get the idea.

Alright. Our motley crew runs into Cal (William Boyce), a Marine who was separated from his platoon in the fight with the slime people (they're called that 'cause they're kinda slimy). The four young people then decide to immediately fall in love with each other while the Prof spends the remainder of the movie trying to find a way to breach the Wall ("He'll figure it out!" Bonnie breathlessly tells Tom. "He's a science professor!"). Prof. Galvin finally stops to wonder why Tom's plane made it through - turns out it was soaked with sea water when he hit some turbulence outside the Wall. Of course! Common table salt!

Smile.  C'mon, smile.  Say "Cheese"!  SMILE!!!This leads us to the rather absurd and pathetic notion of the two girls, each armed with a bucket of saline solution, trying desperately to scrub their way through the Wall. All this is for naught, however; it is, as usual, brute force that wins the day, as our heroes find the "machine" that's producing the fog, which proves to be a big balloon-type thingamabob. You remember the game Ka-Boom!? Where you tried to press the plunger on an air pump several times, without making the balloon attached to the pump explode? Well, it looked like Ka-Boom!. The professor pierces the balloon with a spear, while the boys have a good ol' American fistfight with the Slime People. The Wall disappears, the fog dissipates, and the Slime People die in the fresh air. The end.

Phew. Give me a few seconds to rouse myself. *Slap! Slap!* Okay. I feel better.

Though The Slime People is pretty much 76 wasted minutes of your life, you simply can't hate it - more like, you have to pity it. There are a few interesting ideas and some inventiveness in getting around the film's amazingly low budget, but these few good points are torpedoed over and over again by the human side of the story. I mentioned earlier that the two couples immediately fall in love with each other, but a simple statement like that doesn't convey the sheer speed with which these relationships progress. Tom is calling Lisa "Honey" within hours of first meeting her (which would most likely get him belted or sued today), and Bonnie does everything but say "Wanna party?" to Cal two scenes after their meeting. I can understand desperate people in a dangerous circumstance going for it One Last Time, but this is all chaste, Ozzie-and-Harriet billing and cooing, wholly and glaringly unreasonable and inappropriate.

The women are predictably worthless, and only the menfolk are qualified to do anything worthwhile (incidentally, welcome to 1962). They are, of course, constantly panicking, and in Bonnie's case. actually getting herself captured. Captured Bonnie is a plot line that simply seems to be there because That's The Way It Happened In Some Other Movie - The Slime People, for the most part, seems to be an amalgam of conventions from other movies. To be fair, the Prof is pretty damned useless, too. Not even Les Tremayne (one of my personal favorites) could help me withstand the character of Tolliver, some sort of Beat writer who scoffs at the existence of the Slime People, until a face to face turns him into a cowardly, gibbering madman. I think he's supposed to be comic relief, but somebody had a big mad on against Kerouac. Or something.

Cripes, it looks like Conan O'Brien's yearbook photo.And the acting, oy God, the acting! Okay, that's unfair. Hutton, Burton and Tremayne all have a large body of work, and their experience shows, especially Tremayne's. Susan Hart and Judee Morton, though unschooled and somewhat wooden here, both went on to do at least some other work. It's William Boyce, as the Young Marine With Too Much Hair, who really drags things down. God love him, the boy's trying, but it's just not happening. About the best thing that can be said about him is that he is, quite possibly, Conan O'Brien's long-lost (much) older sibling.

"Must...kill... Conan... O'Brien!"The Slime People themselves are... well, actually, they're pretty darn good. Man In A Suit technology is notoriously tricky, especially on a budget this low, but the suit makers did a fine job this time out. Unslimy, but scaly and reptilian, they look like something out of a particularly good episode of Dr. Who. True, just as CGI-generated dinosaurs must always appear in the rain, the Slime People are always wreathed in fog, and this covers any shortcomings effectively - but the fog also covers up the fact that the final fight scene is, in fact, really lame.

I did promise some interesting points, didn't I? Okay. One might ask (Ka-Boom machine notwithstanding), how do the Slime People fend off an entire army, especially since they seem suited only for lumbering, and carry only spears (which they keep leaving in bodies)? Well, the wily Slimers are self-sealing, that's how. Wounds simply close up. This leads the Prof to a nice insight - the Slime People probably possess the only weapon capable of harming each other. The spears, it turns out, are hollow - stab a Slimer with the human-killing point detached, and the reptoid rascal's body can't seal, and he bleeds to death. In a better movie, this would have been gruesome and cool. Here, it is simply a fifth-grade assembly death scene, followed by Hutton explaining that yes, it really worked. And nothing is ever done with it again.

Several times our heroes run into looters and once, a small mob (the cast & crew's friends and family, no doubt) who try to steal their car. This shows the breakdown of law and order inside the"Look!  Conan O'Brien's in that car!" Wall, and the film would have benefited from more of that, rather than the Let's Rescue Bonnie side trip. The major problem, of course, is that Hutton and crew couldn't have afforded such expansive sub-plots; we'll have to be satisfied with Doris Pischeria's novel The Spinner, which is, among other things, about a city imprisoned by an alien web-spinning entity, and the way that mobs organize themselves into improvised clans. But I digress. As usual.

The filmmakers do pull off a neat trick by telling us the whole backstory through archival footage of newscasts discovered at a TV station. Of course the fog helps to obscure any shortcomings that might have cropped up, but by the end of the movie it's very, very thick, and being in black and white anyway, the thick gray haze quickly grows annoying, as you suspect that any action that is being hidden isn't worth straining to see. And elementary math skills reveal that they could afford three Slime People suits, because that's the most you ever see on screen at one time. This does tend to dilute the concept of the Slime People as a world-conquering horde.

There is still my litany of questions left unanswered. Where in the hell was Tom Gregory, that he had no idea Los Angeles had been invaded by walking mollusks? Self-sealing or not, did the Army forget all its anti-personnel mines and flame-throwers at home? When our heroes seek shelter in a meat market, why do they feel so safe inside the meat lockers, where the doors cannot be locked from the inside? And who was that brave film editor at the station, who hung around to splice on that last, urgent call to evacuate, just so our heroes could have the whole story on one reel?

Since one of the purposes of the fog was to lower temperatures so the Slimers could walk around during the day, and the Prof theorizes that they're coming up from subterra because of our underground testing, it occurs to me that the Slimers would function perfectly well in a nuclear winter, and if they knew about such things in '62, the monsters would have captured a nuke and done a little tit-for-tat action on the human race. I would also like to point out the indicia on the index page, and this concept for Slime People 2000 is copyrighted. Call my people; we'll talk.



Sorry; I cannot even care enough to hate.

- January 18, 1998