Greetings, readers. Now, you might recall last week, in my review of FRANKENHOOKER, I waxed rather poetic (and rather tangentially) about the 1980s New York City Microbudget Cinema Scene, as FRANKENHOOKER director Frank Henenlotter was one of the pivotal movers and shakers of the movement. Another mentioned mover and shaker was, and is, Greg Lamberson, who wrote and directed a little ditty in 1988 that would come to be known as SLIME CITY. A film that has, of late, been receiving some renewed attention due to a sequel, SLIME CITY MASSACRE, which is currently making the rounds on the convention circuit. I was fortunate enough to get to attend a cast-and-crew preview screening of SLIME CITY MASSACRE at Greg’s invitation, and while I don’t want to say too much, I will say this: It is a bloody, gooey, sexy, and most of all worthy successor to the original SLIME CITY.
That being said, I think it’s time I take a look at SLIME CITY. Join me, won’t you?
Meet Alex (Robert C. Sabin), a young man looking for an apartment in New York City. He’s a college student, and needs some place peaceful to study. Joining him in his search is his lovely girlfriend Lori (Mary Huner), who will not be living with him, but will visit frequently. They find a place that fits Alex’s needs and price range in a charming (if a little run-down) little brownstone building. After some brief financial finagling with Ruby, the landlady lounging in a patio chair by the front stoop, Alex moves in.
Here, Alex soon encounters a number of interesting characters, including Roman (Dennis Embry), a poet, and Nicole (also played by Mary Huner), a vampy fishnets-and-black-leather sort of gal with hair that would make Nikki Sixx envious. Roman invites Alex over for dinner — or rather, tells Alex, “You’re having dinner with me tonight” — and serves him a greenish homebrew wine “Zachary’s Elixir” and a bowl of “Himalayan Yogurt,” a similarly greenish concoction. Before long, he finds himself seduced by Nicole.
Soon, things are getting very strange for Alex. As he sleeps (in a speedo, natch), sores open in his skin and a clear slime suppurates from them, coating his entire body. The slime transforms him, twisting him into a greenish, ghoulish parody of his former self. This “Slime-Alex” takes to walking the streets with his face wrapped in bandages and his hands gloves, murdering prostitutes and derelicts. After each murder, his condition clears and he returns to his original self…for a time.
From Nicole, Alex learns that his transformations are caused by the slime — and each transformation is a physical manifestation of the spirit of Zachary Devon, a maniacal cult leader from the 1950s, possessing Alex. Soon Alex will be Zachary Devon…permanently.
Lori, initially driven away by Alex’s strange shifts in personality, returns to fight for the man she loves, armed with a little bit of knowledge…and a meat cleaver. What ensues is a cavalcade of spurting slime, spilled entrails (a masterful portrayal by a double-handful of hot dogs in cheese sauce), wild decapitations, and much, much, more.
This movie, in a way, is a perfect encapsulation of the 1980s. We have Day-Glo colored slime, a gang of hip-hoppers, and absolutely everything taken as far into excess as the budget would allow.
Before I get into the goopy stuff I know you’re all here for, I’d like to discuss the sexuality of SLIME CITY. It may seem odd to say that about a film that, despite containing a sex scene, shows absolutely no nudity. Not even a demure side-boob. But there is an undercurrent of sexuality that I was actually utterly oblivious to on my first viewing of SLIME CITY. After consuming the yogurt and elixir, Alex lays down to sleep in his Speedo, and has a bizarre, THE SEVENTH SEAL-esque dream about Zachary Devon. He wakes coated in slime — a quite literal “wet dream,” the beginning of a series of biochemical changes going on in Alex’s body…it’s almost puberty all over again. Likewise, in his “Hide the Slime” getup, Alex pulls surgical rubber gloves over his oozing hands. His fingers, slimy and encased in latex…well, not too dissimilar in appearance to condom-covered penises, really…
A quick word before moving on. The casting of Mary Huner in the roles of both Lori and Nicole was unintentional, a happy accident of casting. They just couldn’t find anyone else on short notice who felt right for the role of Nicole. It does provide an interesting bit of subtext, though. You see, Lori is a virgin, and seems comfortable enough in maintaining the status quo. Alex then, must look elsewhere to satisfy his sexual needs. So when Nicole mounts him, looking a lot like Lori in a black fright-wig…well, I’ll leave the reader to draw his own conclusions there.
The Slime. God, the Slime. Neon greenish-yellow slime spurts across the set of SLIME CITY like fountaining champagne. I mean, I’m no stranger to green slime in cinema. THE EVIL DEAD, ALIEN, C.H.U.D., STREET TRASH, THE TOXIC AVENGER, heck, THE GREEN SLIME…it’s the quantity that staggers me with SLIME CITY. I read somewhere that the special effects crew for John Carpenter’s 1982 film THE THING used KY Jelly by the 5-gallon drum to achieve the alien shapeshifter’s drippiness. I can’t help but imagine a similar unit of measurement in place for SLIME CITY. When possessed, Alex is completely coated in green slime, it drips off him seemingly-endlessly. When he fights Lori, he hemorrhages it with each stab and slash wound she inflicts on him. By the end, she and the kitchen that serves as their battlefield are drenched.
In the final analysis, what we have here is a gooey little piece of the 1980s New York City Microbudget Cinema Scene, and one I find myself enjoying more and more with every viewing. I feel like SLIME CITY is an excellent example of the deep-down emotional appeal of low budget B-movies. SLIME CITY is a labor of love on writer-director-editor-producer Greg Lamberson’s part, and it shows. TRANSFORMERS means nothing to Michael Bay other than the number of digits preceding the decimal point on the check. There’s no love there. I’d rather watch the lowliest piece of trash that was nurtured and cherished by its creator than any soulless, churned-out cookie-cutter blockbuster. That’s why I love and will always champion microbudget cinema. The undeniable recognition that the movie contains the blood, sweat, toil and tears of someone who worked a hell of a lot harder for a lot less compensation than someone like Spielberg, Lucas, or Bay does.
And if you get the opportunity to see SLIME CITY MASSACRE, whether on the convention circuit or upon it’s future DVD release, I strongly urge you to do so. It’s a stand-alone film, requiring no familiarity with SLIME CITY, though certain elements, I believe, are more enjoyable having seen SLIME CITY first.