STUDIO: Shock-o-Rama Cinema
RUNNING TIME: 300 minutes
• Making-of Featurettes
• Slime Heads interview
• 2 Audio Commentary Tracks (Slime City, Undying Love, Naked Fear)
• Undying Love full length feature
• Naked Fear full length feature
• Johnny Gruesome short film
• Mock film festival mini-poster
• Trailer Vault
Street Trash and Brain Damage had a crack baby.
Nice try, but THE SUNGLASSES AREN’T HELPING YOU BLEND IN AT ALL
Cast: Robert C. Sabin, Mary Hunter, T.J. Merrick, Dennis Embry
Alex (Sabin), a nebbish, happy go lucky student from the Bronx, finally finds an affordable apartment. Hooray! Unfortunately, it’s inhabited by a coven of supernatural goons with bad intentions. They trick Alex into drinking slime, which turns him into a syrup-oozing killing machine with an appetite for hooker meat. Alex juggles the stresses of city life and his sneaky, nagging girlfriend with his newfound ability to grow a monstrous mouth from his chest.
As part of his nightly ritual, Alex put Rogaine everywhere.
On retiring an overused descriptor: At this point, Grindhouse is a completely meaningless talisman. Not every grainy, low-budget horror movie needs or deserves that label. Shock-O-Rama’s Slime City Grindhouse Collection uses it as a way to dirty up a great little movie that doesn’t really need any dirtying up. Besides, Greg Lamberson’s goofy, filthy, and fun Slime City was released in 1988, and the other movies in the collection are from the mid to late ’90s. It’s one part Troma film, one part bizarro temperance fable, and one part… something else.
The unofficial progenitor to J. Michael Muro’s Street Trash (Muro worked as a steadicam operator here before making Trash shortly thereafter), Slime City‘s potent potable doesn’t just turn people into puddles of goo – it transforms its victims’ bodies into polymorphous, nearly indestructible monsters. Lamberson borrows notes from Romero and Carpenter, and also pays homage to Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, and other classic monster films, but he’s clearly playing by his own set of loosely defined rules. Alex changes at will from his human to monster form when he needs to feed, and inexplicably sprouts gray hair at random intervals. The coven of witches who seduce Alex are also slime-feeders, but don’t seem to suffer from any of the same nasty effects. In a bizarre casting twist, the same actress plays both Alex’s girlfriend and the lead witch. The narrative completely ignores this.
Of course, Slime City isn’t nearly as good as any of its influences, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun.
In fact, Slime City‘s numerous shortcomings make it more endearing. There’s no shortage of shoddy framing, bad acting, and talky scenes, but it’s all so earnest and fun that it’s difficult to fault. As he admits in the commentary track, Lamberson set out to make a horror film, but ended up with a comedy. With a $35,000 price tag, most of the cast and crew went unpaid, forcing Lamberson to work management miracles. As a result, he let crewmembers insert their own ideas into the film whenever possible, making Slime City a meta-concoction much like its own gooey MacGuffin.
Beyond the goofiness, Slime City also succeeds at being really fucking gross. Lamberson recounts a friend calling the movie one of the “most disgusting things he’d ever seen.” While that might not have been a compliment, Lamberson accepted it as such. It’s hard to pin down why – maybe it’s the way Lamberson uses food products as effects appliances, or maybe it’s the repulsive yellow tint of Alex’s slime – but Slime City is, for lack of a better word, unclean. Imagining being assaulted by a slippery slime fiend is almost as unnerving as imagining Robert C. Sabin marinating in all of that horrible sauce between takes.
Memorable moments: Alex is accosted by a gang of boombox-carrying thugs in an alleyway. When he refuses to hand over his wallet, the lead thug thrusts a knife into Alex’s chest, which opens up into a fanged maw and swallows the arm whole. The remaining thugs flee, but not before collecting their boombox. Another great moment has Alex’s disembodied brain escaping his skull and crawling across the kitchen floor. Slime City boasts some really neat effects, especially in the gag inducing finale, which has Alex gleefully stuffing his not-quite-human intestines back into his abdomen.
One of Slime City‘s numerous references to Bergman
Here’s where I admit that mileage may vary. If you’re a fan of Troma or Street Trash, give Slime City a try. If you can’t enjoy silly splatter horror, then Slime City won’t likely change that.
Slime City Grindhouse Collection also features two additional full length films, but neither are very good. Undying Love, a “vampire noir” about a suicidal bloodsucker living in New York City, is a much more straightforward and coherent affair than Slime City, but isn’t half as memorable. Lamberson calls Undying Love his favorite movie in the set, but it’s just too serious an effort to enjoy. It’s still better than Naked Fear, which unites Lamberson’s Undying Love star (Tommy Sweeny) with Slime City‘s Robert C. Sabin. Rounding off the collection is Johnny Gruesome, a sort of harmless mini-movie starring Misty Mundae. It’ll probably leave you scratching your head, but hey, Misty Mundae gotta eat. The bottom line: buy this for Slime City, and check out the rest if you’re curious.
So why did it take 20 years for Slime City to get a proper release? Blame Dirty Dancing. Lamberson had originally worked out a deal with Vestron Video to distribute Slime City, but after Dirty Dancing became a megahit, Vestron immediately distanced themselves from low budget horror and scrubbed the arrangement. Vestron filed for bankruptcy a few years later, with most of its holdings today owned by Lionsgate, so it all sort of comes full circle.
It’s a really well stocked release. The collection includes several making-of docs, including the Making Slime featurette. It’s a fun companion to the film that highlights Lamberson’s adventures making the movie and getting it released, as well as showing off some of the effects work. The commentaries for both the main feature and Undying Love are worth listening to, as Lamberson’s clearly a charismatic guy with a lot to say about filmmaking and horror. The Slime City transfer is noticeably better than its 2004 incarnation, and comes with a serviceable Dolby 2/0 track.
Thanks for ruining eggs and sausages forever, Lamberson
8 out of 10