Nov 1, 2017

Blu-ray Review: The Green Slime (1968)

The Japanese-American co-production of The Green Slime (1968) never makes claims for greatness, but delivers plenty of wacky amusement. This film has the unusual honor of being featured in the first episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and that distinction tells you everything you need to know about it. Now available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive, it is certainly unforgettable.

Shot in Japan with a Japanese crew and director Kinji Fukasaku [Black Lizard (1968)] and starring a Western cast, you get a sense of how serious the proceedings are meant to be when the groovy title tune begins blasting over the opening credits. Sung by Tom Jones-like Richard Delvy who hollers enthusiastically about Green Slime, it prepares you for a wild ride.

The film begins with astronauts on an American space station discovering an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. They are told by command they must blast it to dust before it makes contact. While planting explosives on the threatening mass, the men discover several globs of mysterious, throbbing green goo, which grow quickly, disabling some of the group’s equipment. As they barely escape the asteroid before it blows, a small, green globule rides away with them on the pants of one of the astronauts.

When the goo-smeared garb is put in a decontamination chamber, the glop expands, because it thrives on the energy used to purify the materials from the mission. The green stuff quickly grows into a squealing monster (think Sigmund the Sea Monster, but evil and non-verbal) with a single red eye, and who emits electricity from wildly waving tentacles. When the crew attempts to kill it with laser guns, the energy only gives it more strength, while its green blood rapidly grows into more monsters.

In the midst of this there is a tiresome love triangle between the mission’s leader, the slightly too soft-hearted Commander Vince Elliott (Richard Jaeckel), his fiancĂ©e, mission doctor Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi) and his estranged friend, and her former lover Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton). Always critical of Elliott’s leadership style, Rankin attempts to take control of the mission, in addition to stealing back Dr. Benson. She knows he isn’t good for her, but she’s not over him, and she seems to be working a bit too hard to convince herself she loves Elliott. It’s a valiant attempt to add some humanity to the film, but unnecessary since it works as a goofy, absurd, action flick.

The real excitement is with the bizarre, squealing green creatures. They kill with the electricity that shoots through their waving tentacles and keep multiplying without any sign of slowing down. Uncommunicative and seemingly without emotions, these are definitely not sympathetic monsters.

These crazy creatures are the centerpiece of a truly odd film. There’s also a bizarre club scene (with amazing 60s fashions) where dancers stiffly jerk to and fro like they’re all getting over back injuries and the exterior models and effects work are enjoyably fake looking, like watch a bunch of vintage toys in action. The background players are also about as believable as paid mourners (in one victorious scene a man and woman actually join hands and awkwardly dance around in a circle). Sometimes the overall effect is like watching a bunch of kids at play.

The Green Slime is both similar a lot of 60s sci-fi programmers and like nothing else. Try it as a double feature with Tentacles (1977) if you dare.

Many thanks to Warner Archive for providing a copy of the film for review. To order, visit The Warner Archive Collection.

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