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Thursday, October 21, 2021

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2021 -Day 21: THE GREEN SLIME (1968)

Before ALIENS, there was...THE GREEN SLIME!!!

For kids who grew up in the Tri-State area and were blessed with THE 4:30 MOVIE, THE GREEN SLIME was one of the most beloved classics when the show ran Monster Week or Science-Fiction Week (it easily fit into both and thus saw double-duty). I hadn’t seen it since the late-1970’s but I know plenty of folks my age who still talk about it with great affection, so in the interest of this blog’s frequent rustling up of old flicks I’ve hankered to sit through it again and review it. That quest was thwarted for years thanks to the film not being available on home video, a state I found confusing thanks to all manner of far lesser shit being readily obtainable, but at long last it's out on DVD, so I finally got to see it again.

THE GREEN SLIME is a Japanese/American co-production that falls into a category I lovingly call “movies that would have happened if a ten-year-old boy had the means to make a feature film” and it’s bizarre for a number of reasons, chief of which (for me) is the look and feel of a Japanese movie of its period only featuring an entirely Caucasian cast. The story involves a space station becoming infested with man-sized, multi-eyed tentacled wigglies that replicate at an incredible rate, feed on energy and can electrocute anyone who comes into physical contact with them, a situation that eventually results in the need to evacuate the station and blow it up so the monsters don’t reach the Earth and inevitably wipe out mankind.

This dire situation plays out as viewers bear witness to an awkward love triangle between the station’s commanding officer, Vince Elliot (Richard Jaekel), his hot redheaded fiancée, (THUNDERBALL’s pouty and oh-so-mouthwateringly Italian Luciana Paluzzi playing — now get this — “Lisa Benson”) and higher-ranking Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton); back in the days, Rankin and Elliot were best friends and Lisa Benson (*snicker*) was in love with Rankin, but she dumped him in favor of Elliot once she twigged to the fact that Rankin was a major control-freak and towering asshole, an aspect immediately noticeable to anyone who spends even three minutes in his noxious presence.

  Commander Rankin (Robert Horton) and "Lisa Benson" (Luciana Paluzzi). Sorry, but I couldn't resist putting up a shot of the unmitigated Pastaland fineness that is "the Looch."

Before the shit with the alien monsters goes down, Rankin is sent on an unrelated mission to Elliot’s space station and given total command, much to Elliot’s undisguised displeasure, so from the moment he arrives the bad blood boils and it’s a childishly macho Alpha Male pissing contest with Lisa caught in the middle. (This triangle and the way it’s written/played feels like an examination of complex adult emotions as interpreted by a guy who’s never had a romantic relationship, such as a ten-year-old boy.)

The relationship subplot really doesn’t add anything to the story other than to continuously provide examples of what a fucking douche Rankin is and point out Elliot’s questionable qualifications for commanding anything, let alone a space station, thanks to him being “too nice” and having problems with those who outrank him (although, to be fair, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to knock Rankin’s teeth out of his smug, smirking face). I suppose the subplot was left in the international cut of the film in order to give the grownups who took their kids to the matinee something by way of “adult” content, but from what I hear the Japanese cut is around thirteen minutes shorter and totally eliminates the love triangle stuff, thus allowing full attention to focus on what put asses in seats in the first place: creepy, nasty wigglies with flailing tentacles and the laser rifle-equipped spacemen who fight them with extreme prejudice.

But, soap opera histrionics notwithstanding, THE GREEN SLIME is good fun and will most likely be enjoyed by your kids if you expose them to it. And no discussion of this film would be complete without mention of its hilariously inappropriate and ultra-psychedelic theme song, a tune that fans of the film will break into at the drop of a hat. I mean, how many “acid rock” tunes can you name that combine all the most clichéd elements of that musical genre with vocals more suited to a lame Las Vegas number and mention of “Greeeeeeen Sliiiiiiiime?” Sheer insane brilliance, plus you get that hot-assed Luciana Paluzzi — unfortunately it’s a kid’s movie so no low-cut gowns, leather motorcycle gear or foxy swimsuits — so it’s a cheesy win/win.

Poster for the American theatrical release.

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