23 June 2011


1963/Director: Robert Hutton/Writers: Blair Robertson, Vance Skarstedt

Cast: Robert Hutton, Les Tremayne, Robert Burton, Susan Hart, William Boyce, Judee Morton ,John Close

Bad acting. terrible dialog, inane plot. These are the qualities that make 1963's The Slime People either the type of film that either gives the viewer a fun and rollicking evening of cheezy pleasure or causes him to lose what little faith he still clung to in the human race as a species worthy of dominating the planet. I, for better or worse, fall into the former category and have to admit I have been looking for a good copy of this online for a couple years now after having rented it on VHS ages ago and still recalling how unbelievable the viewing experience was. First of all I may offer some defense of this movie to the rest of society before trying to pander it to The Uranium Cafe film crowd. The movie was shot on a very low budget and the actors - with the exceptions of lead man and director Robert Hutton and B-Movie staples Les Tramanye and Robert Burton - were all basically unknowns, and thankfully remained unknowns afterward except for tertiary supporting roles. It was Hutton's only directing attempt in a long and essentially tormented acting career that in the end saw him shunned because of his extremely conservative political views and finally crippled from a broken back. The actors don't seem to be taking anything too seriously here and that adds to the film's enjoyment rather than diminishes it. Lastly the monster are not really too bad for your standard man in a suit fare. I have seen much worse and the modern man-in-a-suit monsters in John Gulager's Feast trilogy don't look much better. Like a lot of films from the period where budgets were limited the film relies on dialog and scientific explanations to fill up film. Luckily the dialog here is not of the so bad it is unlistenable variety but rather the so bad it is amusing type.

The overall story is about the rapid fall of Los Angeles to spear welding Slime People who have either come forth from or been driven from their subterranean dwelling place in order to inhabit the surface world. Of course it is never made clear why they have to do this in either case. It does appear to be a generally bad idea since the creatures can only live in a humid climate similar to their own and to achieve this they surround LA in a "fog dome" that reporter Tom Gregory (Hutton) is having troubling landing his small Cessna type plane or reaching anyone on the ground. Now some how while he was to LA from wherever he was he seemed to not hear any news updates that the city was under invasion of any sort. Not the sign of a quality reporter. He lands on the air strip (and I hope that this is not supposed to represent what would eventually come to be know as LAX) and is created by elderly gentleman Professor Galbraith (Burton) and his two classically 60's style dimwit daughters Lisa and Bonnie in their station wagon. He is filled in quickly as to what has been happening to all of LA during the time he was in his small private plane that could not have flown any further than Las Vegas. The Slime People, as they are endearingly called by the survivors of the attack for no apparent reason as they do not really appear slimy at all, only recently invaded the city and defeated the combined forces of the US Army and Marines with hand held spears. Not all people managed to escape and are trapped inside the fog dome that is in the process of creating an environment the Slime People can exist in 24 hours a day. For now they only come out and attack at night, though it is hard to tell day from night in films from this period since day was shot for night with a dark filter over the camera lens. To make it more believable a "good" director was sure to have the cars turn their head lights on, which often only added to the confusion. For now these trapped people are the equivalent of the French resistance in WWII.

Tom decides the best thing to do is head back to the TV station he worked for and see if they can get any information there. Rather they meet a couple drunken, looters that give the film a Panic in the Year Zero moment, but it is a short moment. They soon run into young Marine Cal Johnson (who really looks a lot like Conan O'Brian) and he joins up with the group. He is the sole survivor of his Marine squad and he soon is in league not only with the small band to fight off the Slime People but is in league with fellow horn dog Tom in putting the move on the Galbraith girls at every opportune moment. The girls are simply too easy and some of the scenes are both campy and a little unnerving. Look, I am a red blooded guy and guess part of my twisted psyche wishes it were just this easy to pick up gals, but it is not and most women can turn off their libido when faced with an impending apocalypse. But not these two. They the epitome of clingy, desperate females. Well the film's romantic subplots do not end there. In one scene while the group is searching for weaknesses in the fog dome, or something like that, they come across the house of cooky beat writer Norman Tolliver (Tramanye) who shows up holding a goat that he refers to as his "little love" and luckily the relationship is not explored further.

The group wind up holed up in a super market with signs showing some really great meat sale prices that seem harder to believe in our day and age than the Slime People invasion itself. Cal feels he needs to atone for his past screw ups and want to go out the store and whoop some Slime People around. His sweet heart Bonnie wants to tag along to help but he emphatically protests. Tells her in no uncertain terms she cannot go out. To which she responds with something like "Please let me. I can help" and he seems to forget how determined he was moments before and lets her go with him. She is then kidnapped by a Slime Person hiding in a trash dumpster and he whimps out and runs back inside without her. So, he screws up yet again. The group then go on a rescue mission for Bonnie and actually find her pretty quickly in a cave, along with the fog machine the Slime People use. It looks like a small hot air balloon with a dried ice machine underneath it. They rescue Bonnie with little effort and Tom and Cal beat a couple Slime People in fist fights. It is through this process that they discover the weakness of the Slime People. Remember that in most old monster films guns and atomic bombs are useless against the beast and one has to discover what the unknown agent or method is before the film's end. The reasons the army's bullets were ineffective is because wounds the Slime People receive are instantly self sealing and healing. But, they can be killed by their own spears, which are hollow and so allows the blood to pump out. Tom and Cal have no problem simply taking the spears from the brutes and impaling them with their own weapons and killing them. Also during this period the fog dome's weakness is figured out by Prof. Galbraith while talking to Tom. The dome is impenetrable really and the Army is locked on the outside trying to get back in. The professor realizes that Tom flew over the Pacific returning to LA and his plane was coated in salt. The answer: table salt. Soon the girls are dragging bags of table slat back to the wall to dissolve some of it and allow the military back in.

Now I can't help but wonder where all the Slime People are that defeated the US military in a day or so. The most we see on the screen at any one time is about three. The group really seems to come and go at their leisure and when they meet a Slime Person they kicks it ass and take its spear from it and kill it. Even the old professor kills one. In the end the monster are beat not by the Army saving the day, but by Tom and the group blowing up the hokey looking fog machine and letting in some fresh air. The film wraps up with lots of stock footage of jets and tanks rolling in and an Army colonel with a mustache that looks like it belongs on a pizza crust maker. This movie is not for everyone (though what movie is really) but I enjoyed it and had more than a few unintended laughs and found myself replaying scenes in disbelief. In the final analysis this is the type of movie I started this blog to do. I have had a lot of personal issues that kept me away from posting for a few weeks but I can think of a better movie to return to posting with. I think if you slightly masochistic you will enjoy it even more since some parts are simply painful to watch. But a little pain never hurt anyone. Right?

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