Horror Film Review: The Green Slime (dir by Kinji Fukasaku)

The Green Slime is here and it’s adorable!

The 1968 film, The Green Slime, is meant to be a hybrid of a horror movie and a sci-fi film.  One might even call it a forerunner to Alien if one wanted to run the risk of being ridiculed for the rest of one’s life.  It’s about an alien life form that manages to sneak into a space station.  Once it’s inside the space station, it starts to rapidly multiply and it turns out that everything that the humans do to try to stop it just causes more of the monsters to show up!

Seriously, that should be some major nightmare fuel but instead, the monsters are just too cute to believed.

Okay, maybe cute is the wrong word.  When Jeff and I watched this movie, I asked him if he could come up with a better term to describe the monsters than “cute.”  He suggested “cheap.”  And yes, the monster do look rather cheap.  It’s obvious that the monsters are made out of rubber and, half the time, their arms just seem to flail around at random.  That’s actually one of the things that makes them so cute!

It’s also one of the things that makes The Green Slime memorable.  Today, we tend to take it for granted that anything can be done via CGI so it’s interesting to see a film like this.  The Green Slime was originally released 52 years ago, long before CGI.  The special effects may look cheap but there’s an undeniable appeal to their quaintness.  The special effects are a lot like the monsters themselves.  They’re cheap.  They’re not particularly convincing.  But, in their own weird way, they’re definitely charming.

Of course, they’re not at all scary.  That’s a bit unfortunate as far as the film is concerned.  Remember how, in the Alien movies, you’re always scared to death that the alien is going to jump from out of nowhere because 1) the alien is absolutely terrifying to look at and 2) anyone caught by the alien is destined to die a terrible and agonizing death?  Well, that’s not the case with The Green Slime.  The Green Slime just kind of runs around and looks …. well, cute.

That said, The Green Slime cannot be allowed to make its way to Earth so the folks on the space station are going to have to figure out how to defeat it.  That’s not going to be easy because the two rival commanders (payed by Robert Horton and Richard Jaeckel) are currently both in love with the same woman.  Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi) is the space station’s doctor and needless to say, she’s going to have her hands full.  If you’re a Bond connoisseur, you might recognize Luciana Paluzzi from Thunderball.  Myself, I was just happy that the doctor was a redhead named Lisa.  I could automatically relate to her.  Plus, there’s nothing more entertaining than hearing your name repeated over and over again.

The Green Slime was an American-Japanese co-production.  The cast is a mix of American and European actors while the film’s crew was predominantly Japanese.  Originally, The Green Slime was envisioned as being an American/Italian co-production and Antonio Margheriti was in talks to direct.  When that plan fell through, MGM moved the production to Japan and teamed up with the Toei Company.  One can only imagine what the film would have looked like if it had been directed by Marheriti.  One imagines that the aliens would have been a bit less cute.

Fortunately, cute they are!  The Green Slime fails as both a horror and sci-fi film because the aliens themselves never seem like a legitimate threat but I still like the film.  If nothing else, it pays tribute to the name Lisa and that’s definitely something that I can get behind.

Plus, the aliens are just adorable!

Black Gunn (1972, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis)

A war has broken out in Los Angeles.

The Black Action Group (B.A.G.) has robbed a Mafia bookmaking operation.  The Mafia, led by used car dealer Russ Capelli (Martin Landau, in his slumming it years), is less concerned with the money as they are with the fact that one of the militants, a Vietnam vet named Scott Gunn (Herbert Jefferson, Jr.), has also stolen a set of ledgers that could reveal every detail of their organization.  Capelli sends the psychotic Ray Kriley (Bruce Glover, father of Crispin) on a mission to track down Scott and kill him.

What the Mafia didn’t count on is that Scott’s older brother, Gunn (Jim Brown), is the owner of Los Angeles’s hottest nightclub.  When Scott approaches his brother, Gun tells him that he doesn’t care about the B.A.G. or any of their politics.  Still, Gunn allows Scott to stash the ledgers at his club and to hide out at his place.  When Scott still ends up getting murdered by Kriley, Gunn sets out to get revenge.

For the most part, Black Gunn is a standard blaxploitation movie with all of the usual elements, a cool nightclub, the mob, black militants,an anti-drug scene and a speech about why it’s important to not sell out to the man, and a hero played by an actor who may not have been able to show much emotion but who still radiated coolness.  Not surprisingly, Jim Brown is the main attraction here and he delivers everything that his fans have come to expect from him.  Blaxploitation regulars Bernie Case and Brenda Sykes also appear in the film.  Casey plays the head of B.A.G. while Sykes is wasted in a one-note role as Gunn’s girlfriend.  Among the villains, it’s fun to watch the glamorous Luciana Paluzzi plays a gangster’s niece and Bruce Glover is just weird enough to make Kriley interesting.  Though Martin Landau would end his career with a deserved reputation for being one of America’s greatest character actors, he spent most of the 70s sleepwalking through roles in low-budget action and horror films and his performance in Black Gunn is no different.  Having Capelli be both a car salesman and a gangster is a nice touch but otherwise, he’s just not that interesting of a character and Landau is only present to get a paycheck.

Black Gunn has some slow spots but the final shoot-out between the militants and the gangsters is exciting and so brutal that it will be probably take even the most jaded blaxploitation fan by surprise.  Black Gunn is hardly a classic but, like its hero, it gets the job done.