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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

THE GREEN SLIME (1968) -- Movie Review by Porfle


Currently watching: THE GREEN SLIME (1968), a collaboration between Italy, Japan, and the USA, with the disparate cinematic styles of each clashing together to create a wild space opera-slash-monster movie that's both exhilaratingly strange and delightfully bad.

Some time in the future an orbiting space station detects an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Commander Jack Rankin (TV star Robert Horton, "A Man Called Shenandoah", "Wagon Train") is called out of retirement to head a team of astronauts to take off from the space station, land on the asteroid, and plant bombs that will blow it to smithereens.

The team does so in what is basically a small-scale dry run for the later epic ARMAGEDDON, but this time the astronauts bring back an unexpected souvenir from the asteroid in the form of a strange green slime which, when charged with electricity, grows into a horde of grotesque, very hostile alien creatures with pincer-tipped tentacles and one big red eye. 



Feeding upon the space station's various energy sources, the creatures grow in size and multiply rapidly until the station's inhabitants begin dying horribly one by one and end up fighting hand-to-tentacle for their very survival.

Hence, the entire second half of the film is a furious and at times incomprehensible series of frantic battle sequences splattered with red blood and green slime, as the space soldiers struggle to protect the station's medical and scientific personnel as well as other civilians.

To make matters worse, Rankin's romantic rival, Commander Vince Elliott (Richard Jaeckel, THE DIRTY DOZEN, STARMAN) chafes at having his command usurped by Rankin, with the mutual object of their affection, beautiful medical officer Dr. Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi, THUNDERBALL, MUSCLE BEACH PARTY), adding fuel to the fire with her very presence.


From the film's first scenes, we're treated to an environment almost totally comprised of miniatures--cityscapes, rocket launch pads and spaceships, the rotating space station itself, etc.--which sometimes approach the quality of the usual Toho/Kaiju stuff we're used to, while at other times are markedly cheap and fake-looking.

Space station and spaceship interiors have the low-budget look of the old live-action Saturday morning sci-fi shows from Filmation such as "Space Academy" and "Jason of Star Command", and even such earlier series as "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger." On the plus side, vivid colors abound in most scenes, especially those involving the approaching asteroid, giving them a pleasing comic-book quality.

The low-rent feel of the film also shows in the artless, almost amateurish direction and camerawork, which, combined with the freaky slime-monster costumes and other slapdash special effects, make the film either an object of boredom and derision or, for bad movie lovers such as myself, a delightfully dizzying wallow in junk-movie joy.


Amazingly, this movie was directed by the same man, Kinji Fukasaku, who would go on to helm the spectacular sci-fi classic BATTLE ROYALE in 2000.  The consistently tense screenplay also boasts as its co-writer another familiar name--Bill Finger, who, along with Bob Kane, created the legendary comic book character, Batman.

Square-jawed and stern, Horton's Commander Rankin could almost have stepped right out of an episode of "Thunderbirds Are Go!" Jaeckle gets a rare chance to stretch his considerable acting chops in a major role, while Paluzzi has a cult appeal all her own as the woman who keeps the film's romantic triangle fired up while protecting her patients from the rampaging slime creatures.

While none of this looks or feels convincing for a second, THE GREEN SLIME is such a relentless onslaught of splashy, full-tilt space madness that one can hardly fail to enjoy it to some degree, on its own oddball terms, as an old-fashioned space opera laced with cheesy 1960s mod stylings and juvenile Monster Kid fun.



Rob G. said...

This is such a fun movie that deserves to be better known. I also enjoy Latitude Zero, another US/Japan/Italy production. I don't know what it is about that combination, but they really nailed the classic B-movie scifi feel that almost everyone else had abandoned by then.

Porfle Popnecker said...

Thanks, I will definitely check that one out!