Wednesday, June 22, 2011

THE GREEN SLIME

I'm beginning to dig into some more of the earlier genre offerings from Warner Archive's MOD collection, and with each disc I watch, I'm more and more grateful that this label exists. Otherwise, treasures like MGM's 1968 space opera, THE GREEN SLIME, might never have seen the light of day on DVD.

A giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and the world's space defense forces come up with a desperate plan to save the world from destruction. A team of manly astronauts, led by heroic Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton, TV's WAGON TRAIN), will have to intercept the runaway rock, land on it, and plant nuclear charges, which will blow up the asteroid before impact. Sounds a lot like ARMAGEDDON, right? But in this flick, blowing up the asteroid is mere foreplay - the real action begins when the astronauts return to Space Station Gamma III. There, a tiny speck of green goo on one man's spacesuit soon grows into a  multi-eyed slime monster that delivers lethal electric shocks with just a brush of its flailing tentacles. Worse, every attempt to kill it only causes it to reproduce, and soon the station is literally swarming with a horde of... Green Slime!

Astoundingly, this movie was financed and released by MGM the same year as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY from the same studio! Directed by Kinji Fukasaku (MESSAGE FROM SPACE) at Tokyo's Toei Studios, and starring an entirely Caucasian cast - including Richard Jaekel (GRIZZLY, THE DIRTY DOZEN) and sexy, flame-haired Luciana Paluzzi (THUNDERBALL, CAPTAIN NEMO'S UNDERWATER CITY) - this ridiculously entertaining outer space adventure is an unofficial continuation of a quartet of similar films shot in Italy by Antonio Margheriti (ALIEN FROM THE DEEP). Those films - WILD WILD PLANET, THE WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS, WAR OF THE PLANETS and THE SNOW DEVILS, all chronicled the adventures of the crew of Space Station Gamma I, as they battled various extraterrestrial menaces. These four films were distributed through MGM, and proved so profitable that the studio wanted another. This time, the once notoriously high-brow, "prestige" studio put up the money for the filming, and producer Walter Manley took the show to Tokyo, hired comic book writer Bill Finger to pen the screenplay, and set the action on Space Station Gamma III!

THE GREEN SLIME is a fast-paced, comic book space opera, filled with delightfully low-tech special effects, 60's mod production design/costumes, cornball dialogue, goofy monsters, silly soap opera, lots of explosions and a fantastic rock & roll theme song that will stick in your head for days. Horton and Jaekel play their parts completely straight, and Paluzzi is gorgeous in a silver minidress. It's pure, unsophisticated Saturday Matinee entertainment.

Previously issued on VHS back in the early days of home video, this delirious confection finally comes to DVD courtesy of Warner Archive. The film is presented - for the first time on home video - remastered in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, sourced from a remarkably clean and colorful print. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono. There are no bonus materials, not even the great theatrical trailer (look it up on YouTube - it's a blast!).

I love THE GREEN SLIME in a completely non-ironic manner, and if you don't demand utter realism in your science fiction and can enjoy the charm and energy of this action-packed space adventure, you might, too. Of course, if you're looking for a cheesy flick to mock and have fun with, THE GREEN SLIME - with its obvious model space ships, overwrought melodrama and waddling rubber aliens - is good for that, too. Recommended.

BUY: The Green Slime [Remaster]