In 1988, writer/director Gregory Lamberson created an Indie Horror film titled Slime City. While it’s safe to suggest that it never went on to win any Academy Awards – not for the love of trying, that is, but Hollywood typically frowns on art they have no part in – the flick still worked hard and found its way into the hearts and minds of folks who like that sort of thing. One could make the case that, since this was the auteur’s debut picture, perhaps some of its shortcomings could be chalked up to a guy just getting used to the merchandise. Whatever the truth may be, clearly the central idea of “slime” stuck to its creator. (Yes, pun intended, dammit. I work hard on my puns.)
Flash forward an incredible two decades later, and Lamberson decided to dip back into those dangerous waters for an uncharacteristically late sequel (of sorts). Slime City Massacre (2010) picks up only a fraction of the storyteller’s elements of the original but expands on them in an all-new context, one set against the backdrop of American terrorism, vigilante justice, and a forgotten class of people living out their sad, sorry existence in a blighted, desecrated urban apocalypse. Into this world, a few strangers make a startling discovery: something from the past has survived, and it’s about to change the face of what’s left of the world as we know it.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
“Two fugitives seek refuge from a totalitarian government in the radioactive ruins of New York City seven years after a dirty bomb explosion. They join forces with a group of hardened survivors, and they discover a supply of a strange yogurt elixir. Soon the survivors mutate into ‘Slime Heads,’ murderous creatures possessed by the spirits of the dead. The mutants’ efforts to resist the addictive elixir are tested when a mercenary force invades Slime City.”
B-Movie fans have a lot to get excited about with Slime City Massacre. It’s equal parts sensual and subversive, offering up a dose of sex and violence that’s likely not to be forgotten soon. (Seriously, this has some of the gooiest sex without body fluids probably captured on film.) Though I found the narrative to kinda/sorta veer off the tracks a bit in the second half – with far too many developments getting too little screen time – it was still the kind of homegrown cinematic shlock true film nerds and bargain basement Horror fans have been happily discovering since the dawn of Beta and VHS. Honestly, we just don’t see enough of this stuff these days, and that’s a sad testament of our times.
Cory (played by Kealan Patrick Burke) and Alexa (Jennifer Bihl) are survivors who’ve spent their time squatting from one place to the next in Slime City. As fate would have it, they happen across a run-down building that finally offers them a bit of security, only to discover that it’s already been claimed by Mason (Lee Perkins) and Alice (the fabulous Debbie Rochon). After a tense exchange, the four agree to terms to share the space, so long as everyone agrees to help out in foraging for supplies which have been growing increasingly scarce.
Before you know it (and perhaps a bit too conveniently, but this is a movie, after all), Cory and Mason stumble across a huge stash of unclaimed whiskey and bottled yogurt. Satisfied their troubles are over (at least temporarily), the two men haul a small supply of the goods back to their hideout, break open the stock, and a good time is had by all. Once their stomachs are full, it’s time for some carnal attraction … and this is where Slime City certainly begins to earn its name. Something in the hooch has each of the two couples soon oozing colorful slime from their pores. They become – for lack of a better phrase – almost lascivious Teletubbies, each with their own color scheme. Furthermore, they start experiencing some even darker desires, ones that can seemingly only be properly satiated through the spilling of blood, and this is a very deadly development for opportunists who’ve set their sights on the gentrification of their destroyed borough.
While some of that might sound a bit confusing, it makes perfect sense (or as much as is necessary) to give this Massacre its broader perspective. Suffice it to say there’s an awful lot more that occurs, and some of it doesn’t quite get the level of explanation I felt it deserved. For example, the slime seemingly effects people differently: Alice spends a chunk of the film reduced to little more than a head floating in a bathtub full of orange goo (even has sex that way, if you can believe that!), only to eventually re-emerge as a full-bodied woman … with an added vertical mouth slit where her sternum should be! Though this late-breaking twist made little sense, that didn’t stop Lamberson from putting this new set of chompers to good use. (This is a Horror film, after all.)
Honestly, I think what impressed me most about Massacre was its ambitiousness.
While others who dissect films (like I do) might take time and space to quibble over the usual gripes associated with reviewing low-budget productions, I’ll admit that Lamberson’s film kept pushing forever onward. Like the little engine that could, this one got a head a steam after its set-up and kept churning and churning and churning for even more. Some of its twists and turns might’ve missed the grounding they deserved, but the storyteller and his cast of characters kept everything flowing at a clip wherein the action never bogged down or the weaknesses of a performance here or there got in the way. Rather, everyone involved pushed through to the big finish – one complete with more gray matter (Pink? Blue? Orange?) than studio productions ever attempt.
Their loss is fandom’s gain.
Slime City Massacre (2010) was produced by Slaughtered Lamb Productions and Medallion Movies. DVD distribution (for this particular release) was coordinated via the good people at Media Blasters. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, I thought the sights and sounds to this release were very good consistently; in a few sequences, the musical tracking was a bit louder than was necessary, but that’s chump change in the overall experience. As for the special features? Wow! This 2-disc set includes an audio commentary from the cast and crew; a ninety-minute behind-the-scenes production documentary; a small handful of making-of shorts; bloopers; production stills; and the theatrical trailer. It’s a fabulous collection for folks who like to spend some time with this sort of thing.
Recommended, but with the following caveat …
As I always caution readers, independent film – most especially Indie Horror – certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (or is that blood?). Often times, these flicks do not have the kind of budget required to bring top-tier practical and visual effects technicians to work on them … but I’ve found in many cases that less-is-more, especially if the supporting story and players give it their all. Slime City Massacre – in total – needed a bit stronger script in the second half to more fully service the solid foundation of the first if it wanted to deliver the total package. The finale is filled with some narrative shorthand in a few places – developments aren’t as clearly spelled out, leaving some of these changes appearing more ‘magical’ than they were organic … but I still had more fun with this than probably most. Why? Well, I appreciate efforts wherein everyone’s heart was up there in the lights. And once I saw those disembodied brains crawling across the warehouse floor? I knew I was in the right place.
In the interests of fairness, I was provided a complimentary Special Edition DVD of Slime City Massacre (2010) by an adoring fan of SciFiHistory.Net under no pre-condition to produce a review; and the contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.