Wednesday, January 6, 2016

#1,969. The Green Slime (1968)

Directed By: Kinji Fukasaku

Starring: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel

Tag line: "Invaders From Beyond The Stars!"

Trivia: Many of the background players were American military personnel who were based in Japan at the time

Shot in Japan by a mostly Japanese crew, yet featuring an all-Caucasian cast, The Green Slime is a cheesy ‘60s sci-fi adventure with questionable effects and shoddy-looking monsters.

And I loved every minute of it!

It's the 21st century, and mission control has just spotted a planet-sized asteroid on course to collide with the earth in less than 10 hours. 

With no time to lose, General Thompson (Bud Widom) sends his top Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton) into space with orders to blow the enormous rock into a million pieces. After a brief stop at the Gamma III space station, which is under the command of Rankin’s former friend Vince Elliott (Richard Jaeckel), a team (including both Rankin and Elliott) takes off to rendezvous with the asteroid. 

Fortunately for planet Earth, their mission is a success, but unbeknownst to Rankin and his crew, a tiny glob of green slime (a living substance discovered on the surface of the asteroid) splashed onto one of their spacesuits, and was carried back to Gamma III. 

Once there, this microscopic sludge, feeding on the station’s energy supply, develops into a giant-sized monster! To make matters worse, a simple drop of its blood can result in even more creatures (the blood mutates, and within minutes forms a being every bit as large as the original). 

Setting aside their differences, Rankin and Elliott must figure out a way to destroy these slimy, one-eyed aliens before they take over the entire station.

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, The Green Slime never lets up on the excitement, and the performances are good enough to make it all seem believable. Along with Horton and Jaeckel, both of whom play heroic yet flawed characters (Horton’s Rankin is arrogant at times, and Jaeckel’s Elliott occasionally risks the lives of several men to save one), the film features the lovely Luciano Paluzzi (Fiona Volpe in Thunderball) as Dr. Lisa Benson, Commander Elliott’s girlfriend and Rankin’s former flame. Surprisingly, the romantic entanglements that arise when the three are reunited don’t detract from the overall story (the actors handle it well enough to make this love triangle an engaging aside).

But what you’ll remember most about The Green Slime is its monsters, which, though goofy-looking (with their one red eye and tentacles that flap around uncontrollably), make for a formidable foe (because they feed on energy, these creatures grow while hiding behind control panels, and even draw power from the sun). Rankin and Elliott do what they can to contain these mutations, but they always find a way to break free, and can survive just as well outside the station as in it (an outer space battle between the astronauts and the Green Slime proves to be one of the film’s most thrilling sequences).

Yes, the miniatures used throughout aren’t all that convincing, and the Green Slime themselves are more silly-looking than scary, yet even with its problems, The Green Slime offers viewers an hour and a half of unadulterated fun.

Oh, and the theme song is positively kick-ass (titled “Green Slime” and performed by Richard Delvy, it appeared only in the American version of the movie, and I’m damn glad it did. I’ll be humming it for weeks!).

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