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Starring Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel, Bud Widom, Ted Gunther, Robert Dunham. Directed Kinji Fukasaku. (1968, 90 min). WARNER ARCHIVE

The Green Slime is finally on Blu-Ray! YAY!

Okay, so it ain't exactly 2001: A Space Odyssey (though it was released the same year), but its daffy charms remain irresistible after all these years. Maybe even more so for those who experienced it as kids. As for me, I first caught it at an old second-run theater within biking distance of my house, which showed kid-friendly matinées on summer afternoons. Even then, the special effects, title creatures and far-out theme song were supremely chuckle-worthy.

Today, only a hard-nosed cynic could view this film without a big, dumb grin on their face. What's ultimately the most fun about The Green Slime is that it isn't a "bad" movie in the traditional sense. Unlike microbudget monster movies like, say, Attack of the Giant Leeches, this is a film that's just bursting with confidence in its wacky story, colorful production design and silly visual effects. The latter is done almost entirely in-camera, from the sky-blue outer space background to the clearly miniature depiction of Gamma 3, the space station where the story takes place (hanging from wires, of course). Yet it's also easy to appreciate the obvious amount of care that went into creating these effects, which are as fun to look at as a lovingly-assembled dollhouse.

Horton's heroic thumb.
Horton's heroic thumb.

As for the multi-tentacled monsters that grow from meteor slime and run rampant through the station...just...wow. Their appearance, movement and voices are almost adorable. Watching these critters shuffling along en masse, tentacles waving about and mewling like kittens as they chase the terrified cast throughout the station, is a real hoot.

The cast, to their credit, plays it totally straight, which had to be a difficult task. Robert Horton plays our stoic, granite-faced hero with as much sincerity as Charlton Heston (with less discernible talent, of course). Thunderball Bond girl Luciana Paluzzi provides eye candy as the station's resident doctor (professionally garbed in form-fitting bodysuits and mini-skirts). But Richard Jaeckel steals the show as the head-strong commander eho mostly exists to be repeatedly proven wrong by Horton. Jaeckel always had a knack for playing uptight, humorless dorks, and this might be his ultimate performance in that capacity.

But even though we laugh, it's more out of affection than contempt. While endearingly phony in nearly every aspect, The Green Slime isn't ineptly made. Everyone from the director down to the costume designers and model makers have obviously given their all to the production. You gotta respect that. Besides, the movie's a lot of fast-paced fun that only a cranky curmudgeon wouldn't get a kick out of.

On a related note, wouldn't The Green Slime and The Angry Red Planet make an awesome double feature on a stay-at-home Saturday?

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