The Green Slime (1968)

In the early 21st century an asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth is successfully destroyed by the courageous crew of the military space station Gamma 3 (this harrowing beat-the-clock tension heavy sequence, with several dudes drilling holes into the asteroid so explosives can be planted in its core, was shamelessly ripped off by the horrendous big budget blockbuster abomination “Armegeddon”). Alas, the staunchly professional army men unwittingly take an alien spore back with them into the space station. The spore grows into an unsightly, lumpy, noisy, tentacled, multi-eyed, lumbering green-skinned vegetable monster with a lethal electric touch, the ability to reproduce at a shockingly fast rate, and an insatiable appetite for electrical power. Pretty soon the whole station is under attack by a teeming horde of these relentless, seemingly unstoppable creatures. It’s up to starchy, tenaciously by-the-book Commander Jack Ranklin (toughly played to the stern, steely hilt by Robert Horton), equally austere and stalwart base head honcho Vince Elliot (the always intense and gravely serious Richard Jaeckel), and resolute physician Lisa (bodacious former Bond Eurobabe Luciana Paluzzi in a strictly decorative eye candy part) to defeat the dangerous extraterrestrial thingies in order to save the entire human race from possible extinction.

Directed with tremendous flair by Kinji Fukasaku (who brought a similar vigor to the extraordinary end-of-the-world dazzler “Virus” and later helmed both “Battle Royale” pics, jam-packed with rousing laser gun battles, monsters jumping and frying folks, heroic sacrifices, edge of your seat suspense, some surprisingly graphic outbursts of deliriously out of control violence, and mighty macho guys gritting their teeth and manfully standing up to the alien menace, “The Green Slime” doesn’t mess around for a second, getting right to the point with stirring headlong momentum and a winning paucity of pretense. (Be sure to snag a copy of the original Japanse version, which thankfully jettisons a draggy romantic triangle subplot involving Hutton, Jaeckel and Paluzzi in favor of emphasizing more monster-loaded action sequences.) The tone remains properly solemn and matter of fact, without ever lapsing into any needless goofball humor. The cast all turn in solid performances, bringing an admirable gritty conviction to their parts. The pace gallops along an an incredibly brisk tempo; there are no dreary lulls to be found in this bang-up item. The urgently brooding score is used judiciously. The groovy, rough-diggin’, fuzztone’n’zither rippin’ psychedelic rock theme song profoundly cooks. Yoskikaza Yamasawa’s lively, polished cinematography cuts loose with lots of crazy tilted camera angles and lightening swift pans, adding a heady adrenaline rush buzz to the fiercely kinetic proceedings. Akira Watanabe’s hokey, but colorful special effects — Tonka toy miniatures, extremely conspicuous matte lines, rubbery monster suits, that sort of endearingly fake stuff — possess a certain tack charm. Bluntly plotted, efficaciously executed, and often exciting, “The Green Slime” overall rates as the genuine no-kiddin’ business.