Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Green Slime (1968)

Who's In It: Robert Horton (Wagon Train), Luciana Paluzzi (Thunderball), and Richard Jaeckel (the original 3:10 to Yuma)

What It's About: It's Armageddon meets Alien as a crew of astronauts blow up an asteroid headed toward Earth, but bring a horrible monster back with them to their space station base.

How It Is: Delightful! The screenplay is by Batman's co-creator Bill Finger and it's full of imagination and wild ideas. The effects are charmingly goofy, the models of the ships are wonderfully retro-futuristic, and the theme song by Richard Delvy would belong in a Bond film if it wasn't about, you know, Green Slime.

I still don't love the movie though, because the contentious, central relationship between the rival space station commanders (Horton and Jaeckel) doesn't really go anywhere. Horton's Jack Rankin is a no-nonsense tough guy who's willing to sacrifice people to succeed at a larger mission. Jaeckel's Vince Elliott is compassionate to the point of being seen as weak by his superiors and Rankin. They're basically Spock and McCoy with no Kirk to mediate between them. Paluzzi's Dr Lisa Benson tries to bring peace, but she doesn't have the authority to really keep them in line, so they just end up fighting over her.

It's a good set up; it just never resolves super well. Benson claims to love Elliott, but of course she's actually into Rankin because it's the '60s and he's the alpha male. And I kept expecting some kind of situation to occur where one or the other (or both) of the men's ideologies were tested, but that never happened. They come to a resolution about their relationship, but not because they actually have to work through anything.

Still, the rest of the movie is so fun that it's become a new, cheesy favorite.

Rating: 4 out of 5 electric swamp cyclopes.

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