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.
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.
then meet Tom Gregory (Robert Hutton, who also directed), who is having
trouble landing his 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
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.
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!
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.
Give me a few seconds to rouse myself. *Slap! Slap!* Okay. I feel better.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.