Monday, February 15, 2010

Slime City Massacre (2010)

Your feelings about this movie might depend on how you respond to a nude woman with orange skin and a three-foot toothed vagina running down the length of her torso, with which she eats people. You might think: 1. that’s pretty stupid, 2. that’s really awesome, or 3. I wonder if she’s single. If you feel this sort of image is stupid, the rest of the movie really won’t be your cup of sputum; but if you’re the sort of person who enjoys rubbery grotesqueries and excessive violence, the movie delivers what you’re looking for.

A sort of backhanded compliment has to be paid here too because Slime City Massacre is a considerable improvement over Slime City, the 1988 film for which this serves as a sequel. Greg Lamberson’s shoestring latex f/x epic supplied enough slime and guts to please genre fans, but was pretty easily identified as a first attempt. This one is much more polished.

Nevertheless, Slime City has found a certain following, allowing Lamberson to shoot a sequel two decades later. He seems to have made up for lost time here, packing in more characters, scenes, subplots, and ideas than most genre films feature in ten minutes, and broadening the original story greatly.

The first film featured a mysterious wine and yogurt combination that made a young man ooze slime and decompose unless he killed someone. Now, the “elixir” is explained to be ectoplasm containing the spirits of dead cult members from the 1950s whose religion is based on “conquering the flesh”. Okay, that’s not exactly a clarification, and to enjoy the movie, you sort of have to accept that the elixir makes the characters melt if they don’t kill, but also gives them stomach-vaginas and makes them impervious to bullets, and allows their brains to leave their heads and eat people. Actually, having a high tolerance for sci-fi mumbo-jumbo helps greatly.

What’s interesting is that the sci-fi elixir is a subplot for a larger and more moving story about love and addiction; and this is set within an even larger story about the survivors of a “dirty bomb” blast in downtown Manhattan who have eked out a post-apocalyptic existence for themselves, and the real estate developer who wants to clear out the scum from this valuable property. Here Lamberson draws from the dystopic tradition to satirize the present moment and many of the barbs are quite good; one nice unnerving touch is the refugee fleeing Homeland Security after having an illegal abortion. There are also references to a war in Canada and a mock Blackwater Security outfit being hired to hunt the homeless. A final reveal about the dirty bomb is a bit much, but the dark cynicism of the script goes well with the grit and grime, as well as the slime.

The film also does a good job of evoking low-budget exploitation grime. Shot on location in the rust belt of Buffalo, a city that can be easily made to look post-apocalyptic, much of the film looks and feels dirty. The wasteland is an amoral Sodom and Gomorrah where individual lives matter very little, and the film has fun with the aura of sleaze. In places, one wishes they’d gone a bit further; there’s a bit too much teasing with the sexual content, which is quite tame compared to the gore; but it’s interesting to see how the characters find their way without a moral compass.

Overall, the dystopia theme works well as a balance to the dark humor and over-the-top gore. I also liked that Lamberson has hired a good editor; the first Slime City has some clunky transitions. And the acting was better than average for a genre film. Having been an extra on the film (and appearing in some of the scenes in the movie) it’s a bit hard for me to say how others will respond to it. I really enjoyed it though. And I would imagine genre fans will be interested in seeing what Lamberson does next.

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