Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Will You Believe It When You're Dead?!

MGM originally released this Japanese space opera in the United States in 1969. THE GREEN SLIME began attracting a rabid cult not long thereafter, thanks to its wobbly visual effects, corny dialogue, and hilariously silly monsters (reportedly portrayed by children in rubber suits). Oh, and its amazing rock-and-roll theme song composed for the U.S. version by Charles Fox (THE NEW, ORIGINAL WONDER WOMAN).

The story, co-written by Batman co-creator Bill Finger, is straight out of a Ziff-Davis comic book and zips through 151 minutes of ARMAGEDDON in about 25. Macho Commander Jack Rankin (lantern-jawed Robert Horton) and astronauts from American space station Gamma 3 are sent on an emergency mission to destroy an asteroid that threatens to smash into Earth. Rankin, his estranged friend Vince Elliott (SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION’s Richard Jaeckel), and the rest of the crew do the job, but a small green glob attaches itself to someone and gets loose about Gamma 3, where it expands to form a seemingly unending supply of dopey creatures that administer deadly shocks with their tentacles.

Kinji Fukasaku (BATTLE ROYALE) directs rapidly and brightly to distract the viewer from the clichĂ©d dialogue, but he can’t disguise the flab that tries to hold together the first-act action on the asteroid and the fight with the monsters in the third. The script concocts a boring and unbelievable love triangle among Rankin, Elliott, and physician Lisa Benson (THUNDERBALL’s Luciana Paluzzi), Elliott’s fiancĂ© and Rankin’s ex, that nobody cares about. It also features a fair amount of blood—both red and green—for a G-rated movie.

And that includes the actors, who aren’t exactly busting their humps. Horton, who left the TV smash WAGON TRAIN in search of greener pastures, couldn’t have been thrilled about acting in a Japanese monster movie. Jaeckel (later in LATITUDE ZERO) was a steady old pro, but neither he nor Horton has an attractive character to play, and Paluzzi was cast for her auburn tresses. Oddly for a Toei production, no Japanese actors appear. Supporting cast includes Robert Dunham (DOGORA), Bud Widom, David Yorston, and Ted Gunther (COP HATER).

Take a gander at the opening credits of THE GREEN SLIME and let the awesomeness of the theme song roll over you:


Anonymous said...

Luciana Paluzzi once said that, judging by items (posters, still photos) that fans asked her to autograph, this must have been the second most popular movie that she ever made (after Thunderball).

lrobhubbard said...

This would be primed to be the first sequel/remake of TWO movies - ARMAGEDDON II: HERE COMES THE GREEN SLIME.