Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Green Slime

MGM (U.S.) and Toei Studios (Japan)
Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund

THE GREEN SLIME is one of those wonderfully bad B movies that you just can’t help but love. The movie was originally—and oddly--marketed to children in both Japan and the U.S. It has a bit of a mixed background, as it was produced by Walter Manley and Ivan Reiner (who wrote the original story) but it was filmed in Japan at Toei Studios. Adding to the film’s pedigree is director Kinji Fukasaku (BATTLE ROYALE {2000}, TORA! TORA! TORA! {1970}), along with the SFX that were done by Japan Special Effects Co. (visuals) and Ekisu Productions (monster suits). Both companies were created by former employees of Toho Studios—famed for their GODZILLA movies—who learned their craft under Eiji Tsuburaya, considered the Father of Japanese SFX.

The movie stars Robert Horton as Commander Jack Rankin, an astronaut called back into service when an asteroid is discovered on a collision course with Earth. With less than 12 hours to impact, Rankin is sent first to the Gamma 3 Space Station where he will assemble a team and head to the asteroid. The plan is to detonate bombs in strategic locations to destroy the asteroid. Along for the ride is a scientist who finds a strange life form that inadvertently hitches a ride back to Gamma 3.

With the asteroid destroyed and the men safely back aboard the space station, there is some tension between the captain of Gamma 3, Commander Vince Elliot (Richard Jaeckel—whom you may remember from THE DIRTY DOZEN {1967}), Rankin, and Dr. Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi—Bond Girl Fiona in THUNDERBALL {1965}). It seems Jack and Lisa have a past together, Vince and Jack used to work together, and Vince and Lisa are now engaged. It’s very soap operaish, but whatever. The more important point of the story is the green slime that begins to wreak havoc on the space station’s electrical system and cause some major injuries to some of the crew. Upon further testing, the scientist learns that the slime and the monsters it is spawning need energy to thrive. Now it becomes a race against time to evacuate the space station without the monsters or their slime tagging along to Earth. 

The visual effects and miniatures created by Japan Special Effects Co. are pretty stunning for the time and exactly what you would expect from artists who worked on tons of Japanese monster films in the 1950s and 1960s. The colors are quite vibrant, considering THE GREEN SLIME is a sci-fi/horror flick with the survival of humanity hanging in the balance. The monster suits are also very cool, if not totally bizarre. They are large one-eyed octopus-armed creatures that look as though they stepped out of a nightmare version of Sigmund the Sea Monster by Sid and Marty Krofft (if you have to ask, Google it!). The acting is adequate and the dialogue is cheesy, at best, but what fun it is to sit and watch as though you were part of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (again, Google). I got quite a kick out of watching a film that takes place in a scientifically advanced future, but they still use the old corded telephones. There are many things to pick out and pick on but that’s part of the experience of watching a B-movie. 

The story is a pretty good one and the beginning of the film had me wondering if this is where the idea for the movie ARMAGEDDON (1998) came from. Once on board Gamma 3 the story moves along at a nice pace, with the film clocking in at around 90 minutes.

THE GREEN SLIME is a classic cheesy ‘60s B-movie that any fan of the genre will absolutely love. It is definitely one of those so-bad-it’s-good flicks and that is what makes it so much fun to watch. And it doesn’t hurt that the female eye candy is a redhead like me. Just trust me and check out THE GREEN SLIME.

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