A horror film with guts!
Maybe I’m not plugged into the relevant forums these days, but it feels like the complaints about CGI-heavy films, especially in the horror genre, seem to have died down. Now that we’re in the post-found footage, occult world of Insidious and The Conjuring, it doesn’t really matter that real-world gore has fallen by the wayside. But then we get a catalog release that reminds us that blood-and-guts used to be a staple of the horror genre, and they used to be produced by practical effects. I, for one, miss that era, and this Blu-ray double feature of Slime City and Slime City Massacre is a great reminder of gore’s glory days.
Slime City follows Alex (Craig Sabin, I Was a Teenage Zombie), a college student who wants a cheap place to move into with his girlfriend. He finds it in a sketchy building. One of his neighbors feeds Alex Himalayan Yogurt. It’s yummy, but it turns Alex into a slime monster bent on killing.
Slime City Massacre, released 22 years later, begins after a dirty bomb has wiped out or displaced most of the citizens of New York City. The refugees that remain find themselves in Slime city. A group of squatters (including B-movie stalwart Debbie Rochon) finds an abandoned warehouse where they hole up. The only problem is they share some of the Himalayan Yogurt they find, which turns them all into slime monsters.
Slime City falls into the second tier of 80s gore films. It’s not a classic film along the lines of The Toxic Avenger or even Street Trash. But it hasn’t languished in total obscurity. Viewing the film in 2017, that feels like a fair fate. The film doesn’t quite live up to the best gorefests, but it delivers consistently enough to justify the love of its cult fans.
The best thing that Slime City has going for it is the gritty vibe that pervades the film. From the start we know that Alex is going to end up in the seedier parts of NYC, and his apartment bears that feeling out. That vibe gets extended once Alex succumbs to slime-monster status. The gore flies thick-and-fast towards the end of the film and fans of gore will appreciate it.
The main problem with Slime City, however, is that this vibe is about all that it has going for it. The idea of a yogurt that turns you into a slime monster is a fine enough one, and it’s executed with flair. But that’s about all the film succeeds at. The basic plot – which seems to take the romance between Alex and his incompatible girlfriend seriously – just doesn’t work. It’s not nearly enough to hang even a short film like this one on. If writer/director Greg Lamberson had figured out something to say with his Himalayan Yogurt gag, he might have had a classic. Perhaps a bit of The Toxic Avenger‘s combo of health-fixation and environmental awareness. Heck, even Cronenberg’s The Fly is basically about a guy turning into a slime monster, and heaven knows that film works.
If Slime City suffers from too little plot, the biggest problem with Slime City Massacre may be that it offers too much. Instead of following one guy into slime-monsterhood, we follow a gang of four. More significantly, we get flashbacks that fill in the gaps in the Himalayan Yogurt saga (including an evil wizard). I’m not sure anyone was asking for a retconned backstory to Slime City, but that’s what we get. There’s a bit too much focus on tying up all the loose plot strands rather than giving fans the gore they’re likely expecting. And the gore that’s here is a so-so affair. When thing stay practical, as in the original, everything is good. But too often the real stuff is supplemented with CGI blood sprays that are distracting and unnecessary.
The truth, though, is that you should probably know what you’re getting into before either film starts to play. If you’re showing up for some decent gore and a bit of 80s-oriented nostalgia, then both Slime City and Slime City Massacre will likely please. They’re not great horror films that deliver thrills’n’chills, but they are effective vehicles for nice practical effects and a gritty view of New York City.
This Blu-ray release treats the films like they are classics, however, and that’s just what fans want. Both films are on the same Blu-ray disc, but that leaves plenty of room for the transfers. Slime City gets a 1.78:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer that’s as good as the film can offer without significant restoration. The source is in decent shape, but expect speckling, dirt, and random out-of-focus shots. Detail is strong, with grain definitely present. Colors, including gore, look great and well-saturated. Black levels could be deeper, but they’re fine. Slime City Massacre’s 1.85:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer looks better. It’s much more detailed, the source is in better shape, and the colors look even more impressive. Both films get Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo tracks. Die-hards may wish for lossless tracks, but the ones available handle dialogue and effects well enough. As with the video, Slime City Massacre’s audio sounds a bit better, with more obvious directionality and clarity.
Extras have been ported over from the 2006 release of Slime City, and they start with a commentary and include a making-of featurette and an interview with actors Robert Sabin and Mary Hunter. Added to this is a new commentary track, which is better recorded than the first and covers a lot of the same ground. Go for the new one first and save the 2006 commentary for a rainy day. Slime City Massacre gets a commentary with Lamberson, who is joined by a number of other participants (including Debbie Rochon). The audio levels get a bit wacky, but it’s worth it to hear everyone’s stories about the film. We get a small set of behind the scenes footage, as well as a few minutes of bloopers and a lone deleted scene. There’s also a featurette about the film’s music, along with several webisodes. The film’s trailer is also included.
Slime City and Slime City Massacre are not films for every taste, but those who miss the bygone era of gore will find something to appreciate in this Blu-ray double feature. For fans it’s worth an upgrade for the audiovisual presentation and the new commentary.