As the Japanese film industry enjoyed enormous worldwide success with their plethora of giant monsters from a variety of film companies (Toho’s Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidrorah, et al; Daiei’s Gamera and friends; Nikkatsu’s Gappa; and Shochikku’s Guilala), many American producers began to jump on the bandwagon in co-producing these adventures, thus giving the films a more polished look with the inclusion of American capital. Henry G. Saperstein was one of the first American producers to provide American money and known American actors (Nick Adams and Russ Tamblyn) on such Japanese/American co-productions as FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1965), MONSTER ZERO (1965), and WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966). Rankin and Bass Productions also co-produced the fondly remembered Toho/Universal co-production of KING KONG ESCAPES in 1967. After a successful collaboration with Italian director Antonio Margheriti on four science fiction adventures (three of which were released stateside by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) made in Italy, producers/writers Walter H. Manley and Ivan Reiner shifted their production base to Japan and joined forces with Toei Company Ltd. and MGM to produce the further adventures aboard spaceship Gamma III. The result was the goofy, but extremely fun cult favorite, THE GREEN SLIME. Now as part of their highly successful Warner Archive Collection, this oft-requested title has made its DVD debut in a beautifully re-mastered, made-to-order edition.
While observing the stars, a group of scientists discover a huge asteroid floating out of its orbit and making a direct route on a collision course with Earth. Only Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton) is deemed qualified to fly to orbiting space station Gamma III and from there land on the errant asteroid and place explosives which it is hoped the menace will be destroyed. Assisting him will be Commander Vance Pierson (Richard Jaeckel) who is none-too-thrilled to have the arrogant Commander Rankin on his space station. It seems that Rankin was once romantically involved with Dr. Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi) and now that she is engaged to Pierson, old conflicts will soon resurface.
After successfully destroying the asteroid, the astronauts return to Gamma III and realize that they are not alone. While on the asteroid, a curious green substance makes its way onto the space suits and once on board, grows into hundreds of weird creatures with tentacles that send out a deadly charge of electricity. It is up to the brave astronauts on Gamma III to work together to destroy this menace before these monsters get to Earth.
One of the most memorable elements from THE GREEN SLIME is the outlandish theme song by Charles Fox featured in the American version of the film. The Japanese version features standard science fiction opening music by Toshiaki Tsushima. In addition, the sound effects for the monsters are particularly eerie with a strange high-pitched squeal. The miniature work throughout the film varies in quality, but overall is good, even though it will not fool anyone.
The three lead actors were all well-known to American audiences with Robert Horton coming off a several year stint on television’s "Wagon Train" while Luciana Paluzzi was still riding high as a Bond-girl having appeared in 1965’s THUNDERBALL as the villainous Fiona Volpe. Many critics still consider Ms. Paluzzi one of the very best female villains of a James Bond film. Richard Jaeckel had just finished Robert Aldrich’s THE DIRTY DOZEN for MGM in 1967 before embarking on Japan for THE GREEN SLIME. Apparently the experience agreed with Mr. Jaeckel as he would return to Japan in 1969 to make the Japanese/American co-production of LATITUDE ZERO for producer Tomoyuki Tanaka of Toho Company Ltd.
Fans of Japanese monster films will also recognize a variety of genre actors in small roles. Robert Dunham who appeared in such Toho films as MOTHRA (1961) and DAGORA, THE SPACE MONSTER (1964) appears in THE GREEN SLIME as Captain Martin while Kathy Horlan from GOKE, THE BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL (1968) appears as a nurse. Also, look very closely and sharp viewers will see none other than Linda Miller as a nurse. Miss Miller’s claim-to-fame in the Japanese monster film lore is of course playing Lt. Susan Watson, King Kong’s love interest, in KING KONG ESCAPES.
Warner Archive’s presentation of THE GREEN SLIME is actually excellent. Some fans have expressed real trepidation about these DVDs as not being “real” DVDs. However rest assured, this is the best this reviewer has ever seen this film. The transfer presents the film in its original 2.35:1 Scope aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement for 16x9 televisions. The image was re-mastered and looks really terrific with strong colors (especially reds). All previous video presentations of this film on VHS (when it was still owned by MGM/UA in the 1980s/early 1990s) were released full screen (1.33:1). The mono English audio is also fine and there is a menu on this DVD, and although there are no chapter stops on the menu, the viewer can skip ahead at ten minute intervals.
All in all, Warner has done a good job on this film. True, many genre fans have been dismayed at the somewhat high prices for these made-on-demand DVDs, however, many of these titles would never see the light of day (ESPECIALLY in this economy). In addition, Warner has been running some very good sales so chances are viewers will be able to pick up these discs at some good prices. As far as THE GREEN SLIME is concerned…it is highly recommended for any hardcore Japanese monster movie fan. (Joe Cascio)
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