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The Green Slime

Gamma sango uchu daisakusen (1968 )

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku

Two landmark science fiction films came from MGM in 1968. One was the masterpiece from the incomparable cinema master Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odessey. The other … was NOT 2001.

However, it had a much cooler theme song, with an opening riff that sounds lifted from Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” and a throaty male vocal hammering home the lyric: “Is it something in your head? Will you believe it when you’re dead? GREEEEEEEN SLIIIIIIIIME!”

That cool-ass ditty was probably the best introduction you could get for this bizarre Italian-American-Japanese co-production, which featured our nation’s finest collection of B-list “stars” willing to travel to Japan for a few bucks. Which is why we have to endure Robert Horton and Richard Jaeckel as two head-butting boneheads with a history of bad blood and a shared taste in voluptuous, red-haired space sluts from Italy (Luciana Paluzzi).

In fact, the most impressive special effects are the huge mammaries belonging to sultry ex-Bond-babe Paluzzi (starring here as “Lisa Benson” … riiiight), who looks here just like she did in Thunderball (1965); that is, hot, sexy and capable of sucking the chrome off of a car bumper, only dressed in crappy, “futuristic” space fashions.

Otherwise, the quality of the effects are far below that of the average Godzilla film, with the models looking much more flimsy and toy-like. The spaceships look like they were put together from paper towel rolls and other, various tube-like structures … including what appears to be a flying vibrator with model tank treads attached to it.

Best/Worst of all is the model of the Gamma 3 space station herself, a piss-yellow painted ring-shaped piece of plastic and string that wobbles alarmingly during a crisis. Curiously, it seems to alternate between spinning and not spinning to produce artificial gravity … yet there’s always Earth-normal gravity inside the station anyhow.

Which makes about as much sense as all the female astronauts on board wearing psychedelic minidresses and “Is that a tentacle in your space suit or are you just happy to see me?” thigh-high go-go boots while the men wear matching powder-blue jumpsuits and dorky white motorcycle helmets.

But I digress. The film begins much like a later retarded space movie, Armageddon (1998 ): A huge asteroid (with Earth-normal gravity and WATER) is on a collision course with our fair planet, and there’s only ONE alcoholic, smug, ramrod-up-his-ass space commander who’s capable of saving the day and shitting on everyone else at the same time: Commander Jack Rankin (Horton), who has the annoying habit of flipping a thumbs-up sign every time he emasculates his crew.

Keeping with a long tradition of smarmy, shithead “heroes” in science fiction films, Rankin also has a habit of getting other cast members killed and patting himself on the back for it (though at least he actually DOES something, unlike the infamous Cal Meacham from 1955’s This Island Earth.

After tooling around on the asteroid on their space golf carts (imagine hauling ass on one of those motorized shopping carts for the handicapped they have at Wal-Mart, but with the regular wheels replaced by the tiny, shitty wheels from an ordinary shopping cart … over a field of partially dried, caked mud), Rankin is about to take off to the space station, ready to leave a crewmember behind, when that crewmember runs up with a specimen jar full of gross green stuff.

After the crewman, Dr. Halvorsen (Ted Gunther) explains to the commander that the jar contains the first life found anywhere in space, Rankin, just to be a ball-busting jackass, takes the jar and deliberately SMASHES it to pieces on the ground, splattering green goo everywhere, including on their space suits. Why? First, just to be a prick, and second, to further the already labored plot.

After barely outracing the nuclear explosion (why don’t these guys ever give themselves enough time to get the job done properly?), Rankin decides to hang around space station Gamma-3 to bust the balls of his old ex-friend Vince Elliot (Jaeckel) while trying to steal his girlfriend (Paluzzi). Rankin’s idea of seductive byplay: “You're making a big mistake, Lisa. You don't love Vince, you pity him.” What a prick!

So, naturally, he’s around when the green shit on the space suit gets irradiated in the decontamination chamber. The radiation, naturally, causes the slime to grow into a big green boil with legs, tentacles and one huge eye. Naturally, Rankin blames everything on Elliot while verbally kicking him in the balls, and proceeds to destroy the station piece by crappy, toy-like piece until he kills everything he can possibly kill.

Meanwhile, the goofy little green guys have reproduced and are swarming over the station, hugging and loving … Uh, that is, electrocuting and mauling every human being they come across. (Just why is it that they keep harassing the medical staff? Do they need first aid or do they just dig sexy space nurses?)

The rest of the film is a delight of quivering rubber tentacles, manly male spacemen and shitty model work, but it just flies by. As far as Japanese-American co-productions go, it’s not quite as impressive as 1970’s Tora Tora Tora (co-directed by Fukasaku, natch), but it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining.

RATING (Brain Damage Factor Scale)

1 - Loss of Consciousness (symptoms exhibited included feeling briefly dazed to several days of coma)

2 - Post Traumatic Amnesia (may exhibit loss of memory for events prior to the injury and/or events following the injury)

3 - Concussion (may exhibit dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, disorientation, forgetfulness, irritability, depression, mood swings, insomnia, and loss of libido)

4 - Encephalopathy (may exhibit stupor, confusion, memory loss, inattention, agitation, and inappropriate aggression)

5 - Seizure (nervous system goes haywire; may exhibit convulsions, recurrent bouts of numbness, fear, anxiety, a forced memory, jerking of a limb or face, lip smacking, sudden staring spells, inability to speak.)

6 – Massive blunt force trauma (massive hemorrhaging, hematoma, probable death)

THE GREEN SLIME has a Brain Damage Factor of 4