The Green Slime (1968) Blu-ray Review: Would You Believe It When You're Dead?

The Warner Archive Collection gives the campy U.S./Japanese cult classic a stellar new HD transfer.
  |   Comments

Apart from the occasional World War II movie, there haven't been terribly many instances in film history wherein the US and Japan collaborated on something together. When they did, the results tended to vary, ranging from epic successes such as Tora! Tora! Tora! to movies almost as disastrous as WWII itself. And it is there, on the latter list of atrocities, that you will find a barely moving motion picture; one which has been sitting ‒ quite comfortably, at that ‒ in the same illustrious spot for several decades.

An unofficial sequel to the mid '60s Gamma One quadrilogy from MGM and cult film director Antonio Margheriti (Yor, the Hunter from the FutureWeb of the Spider), The Green Slime shared the same writer (Ivan Reiner) and producers (Reiner and Walter Manley, the latter of whom also imported a few Japanese sci-fi offerings to American television). The similarities pretty much end there, though. Unlike the four previous Italian-based productions, however, which were all filmed in Italy with (mostly) Italian cast and crew members, The Green Slime (Ganmā Daisan Gō: Uchū Daisakusen) was filmed in Japan with an entirely autochthonous director and crew overseeing an English-speaking cast. Many of whom were not "actors" in the first place, so you may as well start preparing to cringe a bit.

When a very large asteroid is discovered to be on a crash-course with Earth, a group of intrepid (and ineffectual) astronauts launch from Gamma 3 (a not-as-sleek variation of Margheriti's orbiting space base) land on the strange alien orb to blow the bastard to smithereens. Alas, there's always that one nutty scientist who spoils everything for everyone in sci-fi movies such as these. Sure enough, The Green Slime's dolt of a doctor (Ted Gunther, one of several performers in this film who seem to have landed the part simply because they could speak English) inadvertently brings back a glob of green goo to the station ‒ which soon grows into a whole hoard of ridiculous, rapidly-multiplying, green, one-eyed monsters with deadly electrically-charged tentacles and an insatiable appetite for energy.

Naturally, at the heart of this unintentionally hilarious low-budget mess is an unnecessary love triangle. Leading the mission into madness is TV western/soap actor Robert Horton, who plays an arrogant and abrasive (American?) former astronaut hero who agrees to save the world from the asteroid. It was his first role on the big-screen in 12 years, and would prove to be his final theatrical outing ever. Meanwhile, on-board Gamma 3, his ex-bestie ‒ the one and only Richard Jaeckel (Battleground, Spenser: For Hire) ‒ oversees the floating facility (and, presumably, approved the go-go uniforms). Stuck in-between the bitter rivals is Thunderball beauty/baddie Luciana Paluzzi (as an American doctor with a heavy Italian accent!), who apparently chose between the two men based on their acting abilities.

Amazingly, it was the Kinji Fukasaku (Cops vs Thugs, Doberman Cop) himself ‒ the late great brain behind Battle Royale and two Battles Without Honor and Humanity series (and who also directed the Japanese segments of Tora! Tora! Tora!) ‒ who helmed this strange mixture of bad writing and lazy acting set in a surreal universe of goofy critters and terrible miniatures. Far removed from his filmic comfort zone (that of gangster epics and sprawling period sagas), Fukasaku's famous touch can still be seen throughout, even if he didn't seem to effectively communicate with his alienated (or just plain unmotivated) English-speaking cast through translators. The hilarious monster suits were filled by Japanese children; background astronauts were brought to stale life by US military personnel.

An epic disaster on so many levels, The Green Slime is ‒ without a doubt ‒ the quintessential guilty pleasure sci-fi/horror movie of the '60s. Its laughable premise and execution (the movie features a go-go party in outer space, for God's sake!) may have made it toxic at American box offices when first released (and, presumably, promptly pulled from distribution) in 1968. (Twenty years later, the film was used to create a 30-minute pilot for a movie-riffing concept entitled Mystery Science Theater 3000.) For some reason, MGM thought the film needed a funky psychedelic theme song (!), and a variety of musicians were assembled to bring it to jaw-dropping life. A (rare) 45 RPM record featured a different (and, in my opinion, better) cover of the catchy cult track, including oh-so-meaningful and inspired lyrics such as…

"What can it be, what is the reason?
Is this the end to all that we've done?
Is it just something in your head?
Would you believe it when you're dead?
Green Slime!"

Meanwhile, over in Japan, The Green Slime managed to fair better thanks to an alternated, re-edited, dubbed version, which spared audiences from the terrible love triangle between the three bored leads. Even after the home video boom in the US made it possible to attract more viewers, The Green Slime regularly eluded the public. In 2010, the Warner Archive Collection gave us the first (domestic) DVD release of the movie. Seven years later, in the latter quarter of 2017, the Warner Archive once again returned to the spaced-out universe of The Green Slime, this time in beautiful High-Definition. Using the same interpositive print as the DVD-R release, the WAC has done its usual kick-ass job of restoring a movie most people wouldn't mind seeing jettisoned into the farther reaches of infinity for good.

Indeed, the gorgeous new MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer reveals even more flaws in the film, from the farcical creature outfits themselves to the subpar optical effects frequently used, thus heightening the overall camp appeal. Like several other recent WAC BDs, I personally felt the overall hue of The Green Slime was too heavy on the reds ‒ particularly on the skintones ‒ but then, Richard Jaeckel always looked like he had a permanent sunburn goin' on. Accompanying the superb 2.40:1 presentation of the title is a newly revamped DTS-HD MA English 2.0 Mono soundtrack with optional English (SDH) subtitles. A trailer (which should give you some idea as to how MGM promoted it!) is the sole extra for this Region Free release, which is Highly Recommended to bad movie lovers near and far.

Wrap your tentacles around this one and let its energy consume you.

Follow Us