The Green Slime
Film fosters a sense of community. Whether it’s a blockbuster premiere or a DVD playing on the TV, people gather to watch films. They are connected even in silent passivity. Mayhap it’s no big wonder that I desire to watch films with other people, but I have a taste in film that significantly narrows the list of people who would like to share that viewing experience with me. I’m a fan of genre films, sci fi, fantasy, and horror, the latter of which is probably among the smallest of mainstream generic niches. Unfortunately, I like both good and bad genre films…and there are a lot of bad genre films. I’m not sure I’ve ever met any one in real life (as opposed to on the internet) who revels in bad films like I do, but I’ve found a few who will tolerate my films, especially if they are amusingly terrible. This review is dedicated to a friend of mine, an ex-girlfriend actually, though I don’t like using the term ‘my ex’ because it’s rife with negative connotations. Our break up was sad, but we remained friends, in part because we share a similar sense of humor. Alice never loved bad movies like I do, but she was amused by their absurdity and ridiculousness and clearly must have loved me a lot to indulge me. I consider The Green Slime a particular gem in my collection of movies, not just based on its own merits, but by dint of the fact that it was gift from Alice, given to me for my birthday or Christmas; I frequently forget which celebration I’m receiving gifts for because my birthday is only days from Christmas. Thank you Alice. I still appreciate The Green Slime. It’s just as amusing as the day we watched it. This review is dedicated to you. Happy Birthday!
The Green Slime starts as disaster movie with an asteroid threatening to collide with Earth. It’s up to some intrepid astronauts to destroy the asteroid, including the soon-to-be retired Commander Jack Rankin, commander of the space station Gamma 3 Vince Eliot, and the requisite reckless scientist Dr. Hans Halvorsen. They land on the asteroid, which looks like a Styrofoam ball covered in clay from afar and like the inside of a laser tag place on the surface, plant the bombs, and barely escape before the asteroid explodes by accelerating the ship past ten Gs and turning on the force shield to deflect the burning asteroid debris. Everyone celebrates with champagne and dancing to awful 60s music, little realizing the oozing horrors of a stowaway hiding on the ship. Dr. Halvorsen was mucking about with some pulsing green slime on the asteroid, rare proof that life exists outside of Earth, but when Rankin throws Halvorsen’s jar, the green schmutz stains Halvorsen’s pants. Now that little bit of green slime has grown and multiplied into an army of green slime monsters, who have several flailing arms with red claws, a large red eye, and dozens of eyes resting beneath the big one. Thankfully, Halvorsen does the crew some good and finds out that the creatures are feeding off of the ship’s electricity, using it to grow and multiply at an accelerated rate; it also gives their claws the power to taser people to death. The crew fights the creatures with their laser rifles, which does little more than slow them down and create more creatures from the green blood they spill. They try to trap the creatures by leading them down halls with generators and power sources, but all attempts to quarantine the green slime monsters fail. Rankin orders a total evacuation of the ship and he joins Eliot to fight the creatures and cause the ship to destroy itself by burning up and exploding in Earth’s atmosphere. Many are tazed to death, but ultimately the crew is saved. Rankin and Eliot are heroes!
My stint as a Biology major was fairly brief; chemistry was my Waterloo. Still, I love science and I can appreciate movies that do it right as much as ones that do it wrong. The green slime monsters are created by the magic of science. They grow faster than any living cell known to man, which isn’t surprising because there seem to be an army of trillion-celled organisms (if they have cell sizes comparable to in humans) in a matter of hours. But we can ignore this if we say that electricity did it. Normally running an electric current through an organism is enough to irritate or kill it. However, the green slime does have some electric powers in common with animals on Earth. Like some sharks and fish, they can sense electric fields; sharks and fish sense bioelectric fields to find their prey. Apparently, platypi have the power to sense electricity underwater as well. If that isn’t the final proof that platypi are bizarre aliens in cahoots with the slime monsters, I don’t know what is. Ignoring monotreme conspiracy theories, sensing electricity on land is a stretch, but it’s within the realm of possibility. They also share the ability to discharge electricity like certain kinds of fish, most notably the electric eel. Sure the slime monsters are tazing people on land and they’re doing it because they’ve been sucking up the juice from the spaceship, but you know, whatever. Because I’m the kind of person who likes to speculate about this sort of thing, I was wondering how the one-eyed tentacled slime monsters reproduce; ha, I couldn’t resist. Anyhow, they seem to reproduce by binary fission as evidenced by Dr. Halvorsen’s stock footage of a cell dividing, but we don’t see the fully-grown creatures budding or giving birth. We only see the reproduction happen when one of the creatures bleeds green goo from being shot with space rifles. What kind of dead end on the evolutionary tree grows in a puddle like algae, turns into a monster with noodly tentacles that fiends for electricity, and then can only reproduce if it bleeds? When it comes to nature though, truth really is stranger than fiction; I’m still looking at you monotremes.
A lot of this film’s appeal is old school special effects and sci fi charm. First and foremost, I’m referring to the slime monsters. As blobs on the ground, they pulse and glow or ooze up walls because the wall was filmed upside down or the footage was run in reverse. The creatures are rubber costumes, but real sparks come out of the claws. However, I’m also thinking of the depiction of planets, rocket ships, and space walks. The model of planet earth actually looks really good, with its clouds and green landmasses, but the asteroid coming to destroy Earth looks a lot like the science project of a talented elementary school student. The rockets and the space station are obviously models, but it’s still cool seeing the rocket engines turn on as they blast through space and seeing the space station catch fire and explode; amusingly, there are a few moments when they have models of the astronauts moving through space outside the rocket, which look like toys because of their static poses. Although it’s a campy sci fi flick, I was surprised that details of the rocket’s flight were accurate, such as the expended rocket boosters falling off and how the ship coasts and uses reverse thrusters sometimes instead of just constantly burning fuel to propel it across space. Furthermore, I was surprised to learn that this film, which shows a fairly plausible looking space station, was created before the first space station was even launched; it was only three years after this film, but clearly some thought was put into how a space station would theoretically operate.
To augment the main plot about fighting slime monsters, there’s a rivalry between Rankin and Eliot over their position of power on Gamma 3 and their power over the heart of Lisa. Rankin was sent by the general to lead the space station during the mission to destroy asteroid. Although he is a commander just like Eliot, he has authority over the ship that continues when his departure is delayed by the presence of slime monsters. Furthermore, Rankin and Eliot had a falling out over a mission in which ten men died. Rankin believes that Eliot doesn’t deserve to be a commander because he’s too nice and therefore isn’t tough enough; he believes Eliot’s desire to save the one man is what cost the other ten men their lives. Naturally, this belief conflicts with Eliot’s desire to run the station he was assigned to command and his more idealistic take on the importance of other’s lives. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Rankin apparently once dated Lisa, one of the ship’s head doctors, and claims that Lisa still loves him even though she’s engaged to Eliot. Though he does heroic deeds, Rankin is kind of a scuzbag. Eliot seems to be vindicated at the end of the film because he saves Rankin and by extension saves the other crew members, he gets tazed to death by one of the creatures and spends most of the film ineffectually complaining about how he’s in charge and Rankin shouldn’t have the authority to run the station. Perhaps the only consolation at the end of the films is that most everybody gets away safe, including Lisa who is seen crying over Eliot’s body. I think I’d be kind of pissed if Rankin stole Eliot’s fiancée after he died. If you’ve noticed that I haven’t talked about Lisa’s character much, it’s because she mainly insists that she loves Eliot, tells Eliot not to fight with Rankin, and cares for her patients as she and the other nurses and doctors ferry them from the slime monsters taking over the ship. Oh yeah, and she also wears a sparkly silver dress cut way north of the knee. Half the female personnel on Gamma 3 seem to be wearing minidresses. I’m pretty sure this was a requirement for films made in the 60s, even ones set aboard space stations.
The Green Slime is a great cheesy sci fi movie and as you can tell from the review, I really enjoyed watching it. But there was something missing from my second viewing. I missed watching it with my friend and I missed her laughter. I still have fond memories of our time together, even when we watching silly stuff like The Green Slime. Even though we’re living far apart now and I have to either watch bad movies alone or sucker someone into it, I hope this review brings you fond memories of the times we spent chatting, the strange, tangential conversations we had, and brings memories of the movies you watched with me, even bought for me. But most of all, I hope the review reminds you of those times and makes you laugh. Happy Birthday Alice.