The Green Slime USA/Japan/Australia 1968
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Warner Archives Region 1
I have mixed feelings when it comes to these new “on-demand” DVD labels like Warner Archives.
On the one hand, since I can assume they're fairly small runs by definition and bare bones releases with presumably less chasing around to do, then these things should be fairly cheap and quick to produce... and that saving should surely be passed along to the poor, long suffering customer? But no, DVDs from these kinds of labels are costing us several dollars more than a standard DVD! Note to companies who are releasing these things... “You’re not the Criterion Collection” (and with Criterion, you more than get back what you payed for). So that’s a big minus for these releases.
On the other hand... because of these releases I now have a version of Doc Savage (aka one of the greatest movies ever made) in its original widescreen format like it was when I saw it in the cinema back in ‘75. So that’s pretty cool. That’s a big plus for these archive editions right there. Have no fear, the Man of Bronze is here... right here... on my DVD shelf!
Back on the one hand, however... Damn! Now I’ll never get a boxed 10 disc edition of Doc Savage with 100 hours of extra bonus materials, isolated score, posters, souvenir booklets and lobby card facsimiles. Why the hell not? It is one of the greatest movies ever made, after all! That’s another big minus just there.
When all is said and done, however, Warner Archives and other labels of that nature have us, the paying customer, over a barrel because this is the only way to get some of the films we want right now... which sucks because even though I already had two bootlegs of Doc Savage of varying quality (and it has to be said, better extras and better designed menus than the official Warners Archive version) the Warner’s one is the only way you can get that in its original aspect ratio.
But this post is not about Doc Savage... surprisingly... if you’ve made it this far in. This is about another movie I’ve wanted to see for a long time and haven’t been able to acquire until Warners released the longer, American cut of this movie (as opposed to the shorter Japanese cut... which is an unusual twist in itself)... The Green Slime.
I love dodgy science fiction and this movie is as old as I am (I was literally born the same year this movie was released in Japan). I’ve been after this for a while... mainly for two reasons. Reason number one is that it’s directed by Kinji Fukasaku (who went on in later life to direct the fantastic Battle Royale) and reason number two is because I expected it to be a wacky, neon-toned Toho-style kaiju eiga like Invasion of the Astro Monsters or Matango! Attack of the Mushroom People or Frankenstein Conquers the World.
Well, in the first instance at least, I was right, although I didn’t realise it was made in conjunction with the USA/Australia with a cast of Americans/Australians and, therefore, I’d really be surprised if there wasn’t some hefty intervention somewhere along the line when it came to the look and feel of production... although the countries who had stakes in this would presumably be going to Japan because they liked the product which was coming out of there at the time.
Secondly, the monsters in this movie (which seem to be predominantly red once they’ve spawned from the green slime and not green like you see on the posters) are about the only thing that’s actually fun about this movie. This is not a movie I’d necessarily put on to have a good time. In fact, it’s not a movie I’d possibly put on to watch ever again to be honest... but let me not get ahead of myself here.
The Green Slime teams up two space jockeys who formerly fell out over a woman, who is played by the attractively gorgeous Luciana Paluzzi (one of the stunning Bond girls of Thunderball) in a wasted opportunity to sex up the film. She is engaged to marry one of them in a few days but first she must assist them in her capacity as doctor of the Gamma Space Station while they attempt, with their crew, to blow up an asteroid which is heading for a collision course with earth. There’s definitely a love triangle here and also some kind of male-bonding - "I’ll lay down my life for you but don’t tell me what to do or I’ll fight you to the death" - thing going on here too. Both elements are unnecessary and badly handled by all involved in a pedestrian acting job which might well be a direct result of attempting to perform with a ham-fisted script.
Mission is accomplished during a fairly lumbering first half an hour but, unbeknown to the spaced-up crew, a splash of living space slime has been brought back to the space station by accident and it doesn’t take long for it to spawn a red child-or-small-person-in-suit creature with a single eyeball and a couple of tentacles which make it look a little like a... well... a Cthulhu plushie I guess. It’s kinda cute but it does have a tendency to electrocute people while feeding off of the power in the space station in order to spawn more green slime and, soon after, more red pseudo-Cthulhu playmates. The film then becomes an exercise in warding off said monsters and trying to lead them collectively into various traps... peppered with male posturing and lots of shouting between our two lead, male protagonists... not as great as it sounds in the case of this movie I’m afraid.
The film has a few good things such as some okay miniatures and the aforementioned monsters and their squeaky-dog-toy style vocalisations... and speaking of vocalisations, the opening title song, The Green Slime is an outrageous pleasure too. All in all though, out of all the kaiju eiga I’ve seen over the years, this is probably the worst I’ve seen. I’m glad I’ve seen it but I can’t say I’m really any better off for having done so... other than having that particular itch scratched.
I think in summing up, I’d have to use a bit of marketing cleverness from a new release movie called Rubber (which I reviewed here) which has the tagline... “The best killer tyre movie you’ll ever see”, just to hammer home the point of that movie having a particularly unique plot line. Well if I was asked to apply similar logic to The Green Slime then I’d have to go on record as pointing out the this was not the best killer green slime movie I’ve ever seen... that little nugget would have to go out with another, much more impressive Japanese monster movie I saw a year or so ago, The H-Man. Check that one out (it "out blobs" The Blob) and leave this one alone. There’s plenty of good slime to go around.