Friday, January 28, 2011

The Green Slime (1968)

I like logical titles, and The Green Slime might be the most logical title since The Blob. You get what you expect and neither of them are disappointments. The Green Slime has been in my mind for many years, since I saw it on TNT (now TCM I think) and was extremely enjoyed by its goofiness and charming execution. My memory fooled me on one detail, because I kinda expected a lot of Japanese actors too – but except the children in monster suits, this was a 100 % Caucasian monster-orgy. But that don’t matter at all, because it’s the great Kinji Fukasaku in the directors chair, Yukio Manoda and Akira Watanabe doing the special effects and the might Toei producing it! Can’t go wrong, eh?

Richard Jaeckel is Vince Elliott, the proud commander over Gamma III, an advanced space station. After saving the earth from a threatening meteorite, the accidentally bring a small sample of a green slime (surprise!) in to the space station and not long after it’s starts growing and growing and creates a horde of evil, tentacle-monsters with huge eyes and electricity inside them! A visiting colleague, Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton), tries to take over the station in order to save them – both of course everything goes wrong, and now it’s up to Elliott and Rankin to solve the problem, kill the monsters and get the girl!

First of all, those fuckers at MST3K should be ashamed for having (so I heard anyway) this movie for their first episode. Clearly they, just like all the episodes, they have no understanding of what they’re watching or any sense of taste. The Green Slime might be very kitchy, but it’s a damn effect sci-fi movie with a lot of excitement and action. It begins quite slow, with very colourful sets and a cheesy episode on the meteorite where they first find the green slime. But then it’s get more violent and from that moment it’s non-stop action and monster-mayhem until the last frame.

The action is intensive and a lot of fun, a high body count and a lot of tentacles electrifying blonde space marines. Fukasaku crafts a very nice atmosphere, for example in the scene where the first try to lure the monsters from the shadows with the help of some spotlights, which reminded me of more modern horror- and sci-fi movies. Can’t name any example, but it’s something with that scene that’s very familiar. I know that the Japanese version of the movie is shorter and deletes the love triangle, but I can’t ignore that fact that those scenes – and overall the interaction between Elliott and Rankin – feels very inspired, a bit edgy. It’s very easy to see Fukasaku’s style in those sequences: his use of small subtle eye movements, the editing back and forth between the rivals. It echoes of the gangster movies he made later, more than you think when you watch it the first time.

One interesting thing is that the budget seem fairly high for this movie and it’s made by brilliant Japanese technicians – but still, the miniatures looks quite primitive compared to other movies from this time. Why? Jocke at Rubbermonsterfetischism suggested that Fukasaku just didn’t have the experience to shoot effects and miniatures. Maybe he just didn’t plan enough time to shoot the effect scenes? Could be, because it’s very unusual to see weak miniatures in Japanese sci-fi movies. But I’m not really saying they’re bad, just very strongly lit and maybe too may close-ups. For a monster-nerd like me this is heaven and I love every second of the effects.

The DVD from Warner Archive is amazing. It’s not perfect, it has some scratches and dust, but who the f**k cares about that? The colours is vibrant, it’s sharp as hell (except when the lens of the camera seem a bit out of touch with what it’s trying to capture) and good sound too. This is easily one of my favourite DVDs from 2010. Its worth every penny, you can bet on it!

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