THE SLIME PEOPLE ** USA 1963 Dir: Robert Hutton. 76 mins
THE SLIME PEOPLE (1963) is a “Poverty Row’ studio Science fiction film directed by Robert Hutton with actors in rubber suits coming out of a service elevator to destroy Los Angeles. This film was featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000 which I abhor the series concept of making fun of these films as cheap.
Is there anything wrong with a creature feature film? Today that same designation means much the same as it did yesteryear minus the ‘bug-eyed monster’. The Fifties Science fiction pulp books with lurid covers of creatures being ray gunned by heroes after menacing helpless females. This sentiment was continued in the science fiction films of the fifties. Many like the now-classic THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) were done by large studios with producers like Howard Hawks. Of course, the studios looked for ways to do these and the horror films were cheaper for the market of the teenagers and the drive-in.
THE SLIME PEOPLE (1963) concerns a race of subterranean reptile-men who look like Zygons from Dr. Who television episode stunningly titled TERROR OF THE ZYGONS (1975). The creatures are called the “slime people” by several members of the cast due to the monsters having slime-covered skin. I assume the illusion would not be the same if they were called The Rubber People, which would open up whole new areas of fetish shop humour.
The monsters create a wall of “solidified fog” around Los Angeles and proceed to invade the city after rising out of their subterranean homes by the always evil underground atomic blasts. Pilot Tom Gregory (Robert Hutton who also directs) lands a light plane in Los Angeles after some flight difficulties of flying through a ‘dome’ that the creatures have caused to find the city almost deserted.
Wandering around the airfield he encounters a Marine (William Boyce) separated from his unit, and a scientist Prof. Galbraith (Robert Burton) and his two daughters Lisa (Susan Hart) and Bonnie (Judee Morton). The group resolves they must band together to battle the slime people who are attempting to isolate the city plus lower the surface temperature. The dashing aw-shucks marine finds love with the happy young Bonnie and Tom Gregory with the older daughter. Tom also happens to be a sportscaster with the local television station so the group heads over to the facility to try and contact others. Of course, the machine is destroyed but not before many pursuits, female screams and the meeting of one of the film’s most interesting characters Norman Tolliver (Les Tremayne).
Tolliver is a conspiracy-loving, goat-loving army veteran who wants to write a book about the invasion. He giggles he uses lunatic logic only to dissolve in battle fatigue mess at the end. It is a small role in a small film but it stands out as fun, different and looks a little improvised as it goes along. The world does get saved through saltwater so much for the cause for desalinization plants
The film was supposed to be infamous for using thick fog towards the end that it is impossible to see any of the actors. Is that a bad thing when you have cheap sets and eight costumes you are trying to make look good for the least money? I once had the idea to shoot a space battle film having half-built sets covered with a tarp as the ship was under construction.
THE SLIME PEOPLE (1963) was filmed at the actual operating KTLA television studios. The production ran out of money after nine days of shooting. Producer Joseph F. Robinson had wanted to have midgets as voles, as an advance guard of the invasion. Mercifully the sequence was deemed so bad it was cut from the released film. The majority of the budget was spent on the slime people costumes.
THE SLIME PEOPLE (1963) is what it is, a second feature to be put on what was called double bills. It’s fun if you don’t mind leaps in logic. You get to see nostalgic supermarket prices on signs in many scenes and fine large automobiles full of fins, steel and chrome. Les Tremayne is a delight to see even briefly in the picture along with Susan Hart as Lisa. Hart later became the wife of American International Pictures founder James H. Nickelson. She went on to appear in many of the studios’ titles. She now control the rights to 11 movies made by her late husband’s company including IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956), INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957). I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (1957), I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957), and THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN (1957).
THE SLIME PEOPLE (1963) requires you to get a glass of saltwater ready for gargling after the popcorn.
Review by Terry Sherwood