Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Slime City (1988)

A few months ago, the movie "Chillerama" was released and came with the tagline "The Ultimate Midnight Movie", which I disagree with. Not because I wasn't impressed with what I saw (though I wasn't), but because the "midnight movie" as it was known is dead. Plus, real "midnight movies"-films like "Night of the Living Dead" and "Eraserhead"-never sought cult appeal-few directors in that era looked to become popular in that sense. So, while Greg Lamberson's "Slime City" might not be "the ultimate "midnight movie", it is the real deal in what it is-one of the last true movies of it's type.

Alex (Robert C. Sabin) is a normal college student whose moved into an apartment in a run down part of New York City. His neighbors-trashy gal Nicole (Mary Huner, who does double duty as Alex's girlfriend Lori) and Punk Rock kid Roman (Dennis Embry) have something for him-from Nicole, sex, and from Roman, a strange kind of "Himalayan Yogurt" and an elixir. Well, it turns out that the yogurt is actually the ectoplasmic essence of deranged cult leader Zachary, which is now turning Alex into a slime covered monster with an appetite for murder-and only murder seems to temporarily turn him back to normal.

As I said, "Slime City" is not what I'd call a perfect movie. While the budget is hardly worth peanuts (it cost about $50,000 to make), the acting here is all around awful. Nobody here seems to have acted a day in their lives (only star Sabin acted before this), so many of the attempts to convey emotions are awkward to say the least. Plus, there's some notable errors in continuity-such as Alex's bud Jerry (T.J. Merrick) being called "Jack" sometimes, and the story feels a bit shaky at times.

Still, for a first time effort made for nothing, this isn't too bad. The movie does get by largely on the fact that it's shamelessly trashy and gory, with some inspired gags-especially in the movies slimy, gore riddled climax-and effects work that is actually pretty damned impressive considering the budget. Also, the score by Robert Tomaro is a lot of fun, ranging from New Wave synthesizer and guitar work to almost industrial like sounds with ease. The micro-budget also actually helps the look of the film, as it does a great job of capturing the seedy underbelly of pre-Giuliani New York. Finally, the things got enthusiasm and energy to spare, and Lamberson and crew pour every ounce of what they have into it, and for the large part, they do a good job with the limited means they have.

Is "Slime City" a classic? I wouldn't go that far. It is however, one of the last true "Grindhouse" movies, and as an example of one of that world's dying breaths, it's not too bad, and worth a look for fans of movies like "Basket Case" and "Street Trash."

Rating: 6.5/10

Before this movie, Lamberson served as a production manager for "I Was a Teenage Zombie" and a first assistant director for "Plutonium Baby" and "Brain Damage." His other directorial efforts include the vampire film "Undying Love" and the serial killer tale "Naked Fear", as well as a short movie based on his book "Johnny Gruesome." More recently, he directed a sequel to this movie called "Slime City Massacre."

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