Sometimes all a film needs to exist is the will of someone who isn’t afraid to scrape up a budget in order to immortalise utter trash on the big screen. Some such rewards for this foolhardy endeavor is cult adulation, a lifetime of random midnight screenings for a questionably enraptured audience and the chance that, thanks to distribution labels like Arrow, 88 Films, Synapse and Scream Factory, your misshapen little cinematic baby will live forever after getting scrubbed up for the latest home video format. I personally love cult movies and there’s something about the no-budget, bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping, scum-epics from the 80’s that really float my boat; but that doesn’t mean everything from that period was gold.
This brings us to Greg Lamberson’s soliloquy of questionable talent, Slime City, a horror comedy from 1988 that, until recently, had managed to escape my bloodshot peepers despite me being fully aware it existed. Did this ode to ectoplasmic ecstasy have what it takes to stand proudly alongside the works of twisted auteurs of bad taste such as Frank Henenlotter, Lloyd Kaufman and James Muro, or did it simply melt into a puddle of goo – or even more importantly, did the quality of the film even matter?
Aspiring artist Alex and his virginal girlfriend Lori are searching for an apartment for the young man to rent when they find the perfect one in a building full of eccentric characters such as a moody poet, a rambling old woman and the pneumatic Nicole, a promiscuous neighbour who casually dresses kike she’s auditioning for an Elvira themed stripping class. While Alex settles into his new surroundings, he gets invited for a meal by Roman the poet who serves him questionable green goo which he claims is Himalayan yogurt (oooookaaaaay…) and an even more questionable green liquor from an unmarked bottle which both – while apparently being delicious – have rather an alarming side effect. After ingesting this alarming crap, Alex finds that his pores start generating a viscose, yellow slime and he excretes it more and more until he caves in the head of a derelict in an alleyway with a lead pipe (as you do) which somehow brings his condition back to normal. Initially worried that the “yogurt” has made him hallucinate, Alex’s fears are temporarily calmed by the fact that his other neighbour Nicole takes it upon herself to gyrate in front of him shamelessly while looking like a Cher drag queen from her Turn Back Time video. Unsurprisingly, this works and after digesting even more of that goop and claiming more lives, the stained, streaky walls start finally closing in: firstly a dogged cop is on his case thanks to a missing hooker (fair point, Alex sliced her up with a razor), then Lori notices his mood swings which exasperates the fact that Alex is highly frustrated that they haven’t “done it” yet; but worst of all is when our leaking lead, bandaged up and looking like someone’s blown their nose on Darkman, finally stumbles across what is going on. 30 years ago a satanist and his followers committed suicide in that very building and the residents of the apartment are people who have had their bodies taken over by the resurrected acolytes – but how did this happen? By eating the yogurt of course, which is actually slime left over from the mass suicide (it’s so obvious when you think about it really), and now it’s Alex’s turn to be gradually taken over by the cult leader himself. Can he fight this slime-based takeover of his very soul; and if he can’t, what does this mean for the unsuspecting Lori – one thing’s for sure, this has gone a lot further than Alex just having a yellow, leaky t-zone…
So, yes, Slime City is unadulterated grimy trash; but in some cases that wouldn’t actually be a negative point. After all, Slime City does actually have a small but dedicated fanbase but if I’m being truly honest the aching squirts of multicoloured goo have a ways to go before it’s fit to even splash the boots of the upper echelons of some other 80’s trash epics. There’s nothing here to match the filth encrusted majesty of such weapons grade exploitation flicks as Basket Case, The Toxic Avenger, Brain Damage or the mighty Street Trash and despite a certain so-bad-it’s-good taste to it’s unprofessional filmmaking, there’s not much here for purveyors of “normal” entertainment.
And yet, for cheap gore lovers and enthusiasts of cinematic crud, the very fact that the film exists is reason enough to give it a watch and despite the leaden direction, the film has more than it’s fair share of laugh out loud moments.
Take the dialogue, which demands noticably unpolished actors to try and add gravitas to such lines as “Why, so a satanist who’s been dead for 30 years can take over my body while I fuck you?” while trying to keep a straight face and has actual adults trading back and forths like, “You’re hurting me!”, “No, I’m killing you!”.
The film describes itself as a horror comedy, but at numerous times you suspect they just chucked the “comedy” label in there just to excuse some of the seriously low budget on show – check out the parlour belonging to a medium that suspiciously looks like a booth in a restaurant, or the impressive non-reaction of a hooker after having her face slashed with a straight razor…
However, a lot of sins are forgiven during the movie’s final ten minutes where what little common decency the film had squirts out the window and Alex’s condition gets far worse than just having a dribbly forehead. The scene where a murderous and rapidly deteriorating Alex, now all but lost to his congealing condition, goes head to head with Lori in a magnificently silly climax that sees the former’s body spectacularly get chopped to bits only for his severed head to crack open and his brain attempt to leg it by slowly dragging itself across the kitchen tile like a snail. It’s almost worth the pride of admission alone.
All in all Slime City is a half decent place to visit if you’re into that sort of thing, but there’s way better examples of it’s kind out there; however fans of cheap effects, inexperienced filmmaking and weird random shit in general (lead actress Mary Huner plays both Lori and Nicole with absolutely no explanation given and I didn’t even notice until I went on IMDB!) will lap up it’s stripped back, punk rock sensibilities proving once and for all all that no matter what kind of crap you make, they’ll always gonna be someone out there ooze gonna love it…