Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Green Sliiiiime

I have finally taken the plunge and ordered one of the custom DVDs produced as part of the Warner Archive Collection. As you undoubtedly realize, it was THE GREEN SLIME. I've been wanting THE GREEN SLIME on DVD for ages, and the October release of it through the Archive program guaranteed they would finally be getting a sale out of me. The question was when, and the answer was about a week or two ago.

THE GREEN SLIME is one of those fascinating, mixed-up productions that I find so endearing. Its two male leads (Robert Horton and Richard Jaeckel) are American. Its female lead (Luciana Paluzzi) is Italian. The premise is very loosely connected to a series of Italian SF movies featuring a space station called the Gamma I. But THE GREEN SLIME was filmed entirely in Japan, and was directed by Kinji Fukasaku. That means it falls under the heading of Japanese sci-fi despite nary an Asian face showing up on-screen.

And it is a hoot. I'm not going to get into plot details, but it's pretty blatantly absurd in spots. I am perfectly OK with this. It moves at a rapid enough clip that you aren't left with a lot of time to ponder the inherent plotholes even for a movie of this type. The art direction is colorful, the monsters are relentless and crazy, and the set pieces are exactly the sort of thing I love about old monster movies.

Then, there is the cast. The majority of them are folks unknown to the public at large, though a few (Robert Dunham, Kathy Horan, William Ross, Linda Miller) are well-known to me. Richard Jaeckel is probably the most famous person in the cast, and he is excellent as Vince Elliot. Luciana Paluzzi is attractive and gives a decent performance, but her accent is a little distracting considering she has the very whitebread name of "Lisa Benson". And then there is Robert Horton, portraying the most unlikeable courageous space hero ever seen.

Understand, I am far from unique in this opinion of Jack Rankin. Robert Horton might be the nicest guy on Earth, and he certainly is a decent actor, but his character comes across as a smug, arrogant jackass. It is genuinely disappointing that Jaeckel's character misses when he tries to paste him one, because it would have felt cathartic to me. To make matters worse, it's clearly obvious that he's right most of the time, and that his foil Vince is going to get the short end. It's just his attitude that grates, and it makes me wonder if it was inadvertent or if someone wanted to be clever.

The best summation of the character of Jack Rankin is the following exchange between Jack and General Thompson (Bud Widom). It is the first dialogue uttered by Rankin in the movie.

RANKIN: How are ya, Chief? It's been awhile.
THOMPSON: Not bad. Still putting on a little weight.
RANKIN: So I see. (emphasis added)

Ladies and gentlemen, Commander Jack Rankin!

If you are skittish about Warner Archive's custom DVD-Rs, let me put your fears to rest by saying that THE GREEN SLIME DVD is fabulous. It is that rare Archive title that is listed as being newly-remastered, and apart from some minor damage here and there, it looks pristine. I would hazard a guess that there were once plans to market it as a wide release DVD, but it's entirely possible the bottom dropping out of the retail market scuttled that idea. Too bad, but at least we now have the movie.

There are no extras included, which isn't surprising all things considered. Really too bad they didn't have a copy of the trailer they could have thrown on there, as it is a must. Don't take my word for it, see it here! I'm not going to complain about a product like this, but it would have been nice to have the chapter breaks selectable from a screen on the menu. However, at least there ARE chapters!

The packaging is really nice. Original poster artwork serves as the cover, the sleeve & case equal standard edition DVDs, and even the disc looks totally professional. It's only when you flip it over and see that it's purple that you can tell it's a DVD-R. And for the record, my older DVD player often has trouble playing burned DVDs, but it made it through THE GREEN SLIME without a hitch. Definitely a high end product.

So thank you Warner Archive, for doing such an impeccable job on one of my favorite movies. I'm definitely considering investigating other titles you have available.

And now, let's wrap things up with another deathless quote from General Thompson:
"And I'll be go to hell if I know what we're faced with!"
Took the words right out of my mouth, Chief!

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