Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reel Bad Cinema: Slithis (1978) review


Alan Blanchard (Wayne Conners), Judy Motulsky (Jeff Conners), J.C. Claire (Dr. John), a bunch of people playing wino's, weirdo's and Hy Pyke as a bug eyed policeman

Directed by Stephen Traxler

"Scientists named this organic mud....Slithis!"

A creature born from science and toxic waste out of the mud and Slithis (?) encrusted canals around Venice, California goes on a killing spree. Meanwhile, the police believe they are looking for members of a sacrificial death cult(?) A motley group of individuals decide to band together to stop the creature before it kills again.

This anemic, citified, low rent version of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) is bereft of good acting and special effects, but occasionally uses those deficiencies in its favor. Actually, comparing this to Jack Arnold's classic tale of a monster from a lagoon is a serious crime. LISTLESS (1978) falls more into the OCTAMAN (1971) school of schlock movies. There are a lot of oddball elements here mostly down to the selection of quirky characters and ridiculous dialog. Oddly enough, the film has a (very) modest cult following most likely due to people seeing it on late night TV. In fact...

LOOK!!! Check out the shiny disco ball in this guys room! Not much has happened at this point in the movie unless you're a fan of Slithis-ly atrocious acting

LOOK!!! Click the pic and you'll see William Shatner put in a cameo from the STAR TREK original series episode, 'The Enterprise Incident' where Spock kills a maniac Captain Kirk only to bring him back as a Romulan! It's okay, though, as it's all a big ploy to get a hold of a Romulan secret weapon. Did I mention SLITHIS has so little going for it? I gotta talk about SOMETHING.

Come on, guys! Let's go kill ourselves a Slithis!!!

I first saw SHIFTLESS (1978) late at night/early morning on the CBS Late Night Movie where they used to show movies better than SLITHIS like ORCA (1977), THE GREAT ALLIGATOR (1979) and CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW (1977). I didn't like SLITHIS much then, but having only seen it once, I decided to invest in Code Red's recent DVD release of the movie to see if I'd like it any better now. One thing I can say is that if I didn't like a movie AS A KID, it's highly unlikely the experience will improve as an adult. This fully applies to WITLESS (1978). However, slight enjoyment is derived from the sheer level of mediocrity present. This is above average bad here. The acting is the pits, the dialog retarded and the film occasionally lapses into Slithi-tiously slow motion for no apparent reason.

If the movie wasn't already slith-tastic enough, we get a gratuitous turtle race for no apparent reason.

The Eyes have it! I don't know what the hell he's talking about, either

The opening of the movie features two kids throwing a frisbee. One of them discovers a couple mutilated dogs. For whatever reason, we get to see the fat kid run over to check out the dead dogs in slow motion. Some of the monster attacks take place in slow motion, too. I'm not talking PAINFULLY slow slow motion as in THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, just normal but needless slow motion just the same. The musical score, if you can call it that, is frequently bonkers, too. Speaking of bonkers, Hy Pyke hands down wins the "What the hell was that all about?" award for his loony role as a police Lieutenant with bulging eyeballs, unkempt hair (what little he has) and a cartoonishly, Slith-erly over the top demeanor.

The monster costume is pretty decent for what looks like a $1.95 production. The actor playing the Slithis gets overly excited during the last ten minutes or so while attacking a car and also during the end when the monster wreaks havoc aboard a boat. During the other infrequent monster attacks, Slithis moves slow as molasses. Don't let the PG rating fool you, though, as trash viewers will get a glimpse of some boobage during one creature assault and this bit, too, is presented in slow motion. There's blood and gore flying around and what looks like some guts hanging out of one victim during the handicapped, no disqualification, falls count anywhere battle royal at the end. You also get a bunch of shots in 'Slithi-Vision'!!! in what looks like a 2 liter bottle cut in half and placed over the camera lens.

According to the static delivery of the scientist in the movie, Slithis takes on the form of whatever organism it ingests, something that would be a plot point taken far more Slithi-seriously in John Carpenter's THE THING several years later. Traxler's poverty row creature feature also resonates the ecological themes of many monster movies from the fabulous 50's and that's about the only crowd I would recommend this to aside from those feeling nostalgic for checking out Venice, California of the late 70's.

"Sure we're scared...damn scared...why not? Most of us aint got no place to hide, anyway and the cops aint gonna bust their butts tryin' to protect us."

"I sleep sometimes in the john down by the beach...them stalls aint got no locks on 'em you know?"

Unless you're a connoisseur of awful movies, SLITHIS offers next to nothing for anyone else aside from those wishing to see every other man in rubber suit, sewer dwelling, aquatic cheapies such as SCARED TO DEATH (1981) and DEMON OF PARADISE (1987). If you do happen to purchase this movie and don't like it, be careful how you dispose of it. It might take the form of a slithis, rise from your trash and tear you apart in slow motion.

This review is representative of the Code Red DVD

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