February 6, 2010

Gregory Lamberson's Slime City (1988)

Starring: Robert C. Sabin & Mary Huner
Directed by: Gregory Lamberson

"I'm not uh, messing up the sheets anymore... I can't speak for Greg." Welcome to Slime City, a rundown freaky place where the Street Trash runs rampant and Plutonium Babies are born by the dozen... where you don't need to have Brain Damage to live there, but it may help if you're a Teenage Zombie. Let's take a stroll down memory lane, and take a look at a Cult Classic film which has been unfortunately overlooked, but is making a comeback in a big-ass, gruesome way! Variety calls Slime City "REPULSIVE"... But I call it home.

A slow pan down a red bricked building reveals a lovely aged woman with glasses, either named Bunny or Ruby depending on who you ask, sitting in a gated area resembling a front yard (If you could even call that a yard, it's more like a sunbathing area on concrete.) We're introduced to our hero Alex (played by the low key master of the messy bed sheets himself Robert C. Sabin!) and his significant other, Plain-Jane wholesome Lori (not to be confused with gothy mistress Nicole, Mary Huner) as they're out hunting down an apartment for the young lad. The two of them have already looked at one other place, with cockroaches in the refrigerator no less, so second time's the charm and Alex decides to take it. Rather quickly I might add too. The OMINOUS MUSIC playing would suggest that there's something strange about this place, something spooky and mysterious. It’s the kind of place where if you move a bookshelf or two you could find yourself in a secret living room or something.

With the "help" of his friend Jerry, Alex lugs a stained mattress up the stairs to his new pad. Jerry is sad because Alex is leaving him behind, and thinks he's just doing it for the chicks, man. But no way, not Alex, as he explains, "This place is strictly a retirement city." Suddenly, out of the door across the hall, emerges Nicole. In heavy neon blue make up, bondage attire and a fluffy black wig, it's obvious that things just got a little more interesting. Despite looking eerily familiar, Alex introduces himself to her while his "style cramping" buddy seemingly rubs his crotch in a circular motion while drooling all over himself. This dude must not have gotten it in about, well forever, as he starts whining about becoming Alex's roommate. Clingy much? It's a good thing you're getting away Alex, because by the looks of it, this guy wants to cramp more than your "style"... if you know what I mean.

Cut to Alex and Lori together inside the now set up apartment. Lori says that her parents want to meet Alex, but that doesn't sit too well with him, as you can see, because he's a rebel who likes to draw portraits. And he also desperately wants to have sex with her, but of course she's not ready. They passionately kiss and she pulls away, telling him that she needs more time. "You said that once I got my own place..." spews from Alex's mouth and now we realize that she's a master manipulator, taking advantage of the supply and demand of sexual relations. They bicker for a moment or two before leaving together.

Heading down the stairs the two of them run into Roman, or should I say that Roman runs into them. Seeing as he was hiding around the corner awaiting the two, in a most creepishly fashion. A leather jacket clad, young fascinating poetry loving gothboy who's been to one too many Misfits shows, Roman goes on about artists not getting the respect they deserve until they're dead. How true. But Alex and his prudish young lass are in a rush, so they leave Roman all to his loathsome lonesome.

Coming back that night, Alex runs into Nicole once again and she inquires about Lori, whom she saw him with. "She looks like a nice girl." Nicole says while some stoned out of his gourd piece of manmeat sways to and fro.

"She is." he responds.

"Too bad."

Leaving Alex with an unhappy look on his face, Nicole drags said nameless stoner into her place and not two seconds after she's in her apartment starts moaning in quite a sexual manner. As we cut to the first of thirteen scheduled Robert Sabin Speedo shots, we see him tossing and turning trying to get some rest while the moans continue through the night. Suddenly, blood curdling screams ring out! End Speedo scene.

The next morning Alex comes downstairs to find Roman roamin' through the garbage for any good stuff he can find. Wondering what the hell he's doing, Alex inquires, which leads Roman to invite him over for some "nourishment" later on. For some reason or another, Alex sort of agrees to the proposition. (Now, I don't know about you. But if I ever find someone digging through the trash bins and then that person invites me over for food and drink, I pass on it. New neighbor or not, it's just common sense. But of course Alex isn't exactly thinking straight lately, what with his girlfriend not giving up the goods and all!)

Now Alex and Jerry are sitting together on a bench, which I'm guessing is located outside of their College, not High school. Jerry goes on and on about "blowing hard", though he's talking about nose, I'm beginning to suspect that this dude blows a little more than that. They discuss their female problems, which when you put these two guys together, there are plenty! But enough of that. This is the point of the film where we find out that Alex works at none other than Galaxy Video! Talk about a cush job huh, Assistant Manager of an old mom and pop video shop where he gets to watch porno and horror movies all night and get paid for it. That's gravy, baby. Lori pays him a visit and when Alex invites her over for the night, she blows him off, much to his dismay. So that night Alex decides to take Roman up on his offer, and stops by his place for some Himalayan Yogurt and three-hundred year old Moonshine.

Roman: "I guess I should have warned you that I don't eat meat."

Alex: "That's ok, my mind is open to new experiences."

As Roman pours the wine, he tells Alex that he stopped doing LSD after he got his first hit of the wet stuff. I guess it's that intense, but personally I wouldn't just stop doing Acid because something stronger came along. Nothing wrong with mixing toxins that's what I always say. Am I right or what? Oh, and did I mention that this Roman dude is something like ninety pounds soaking wet holding two fifteen pound freeweights? If I were Alex I wouldn't be the least freakin' bit surprised to find out that he doesn't eat meat. Hell, I'm surprised that the f'n guy even eats at all, considering the only thing he's going to find downstairs in the garbage cans are hacked up body parts from one of Nicole's boytoy victims.. and sorry Roman, but that just happens to also be meat. Moving on.

Now that Alex has his buzz on, Nicole is ready and waiting for him. She invites him inside and they begin to passionately kiss, as she lays him down on a leather sex padding of some sort. She undoes a panty strap and the two of them, in grand fashion, engage in FULLY CLOTHED SEX!! Yes, the age old act of unzip, lift the skirt and go which was made oh-so famous in automobiles during the 1970's, is also practiced quite often in dingy, gothed out apartments. Fully Clothed Sex, the true alternative to semi clothed sex, and if you're shy, it's even better than the real thing. Yes, that's right, Fully Clothed Sex, the only cool way to have sex. I guess Nicole is a one minute quitter, since she hits her climax in no time whatsoever (way to go Alex, you stud you), but then suddenly begins screaming the name Zachary. (What the... fuck?!) Which in turn sends Alex into a dream sequence (he dreams in black and white, which is the only cool way to dream) where he confronts a strange dude in a black mass shroud who feeds him more of that strange wine. The glass drops and crashes to the floor, causing Alex to jump awake.

Only one thing is amiss: He's covered in SLIME! Gooey, nasty, sticky slime and it’s covering his entire body. Speedo still in tact thank the dark lord, but slimey nonetheless. Not at all vain, he gets up and runs to the mirror. Next thing you know he's walking down the street when he's accosted by a homeless man wanting a quarter or two. Like any normal slime covered dude, he's aghast and upset even at being inconvenienced like this. Though he does throw some change onto the sidewalk, so at least we know he cares. But Alex has even more to care about now since the slime oozing from his pours is increasing and he's becoming liberally covered in the thick, green goo. Caking his face and making him sick, he crawls down an alleyway and begins to vomit up gray mush.

Now there's a time in every man's life where he has to make a decision. What's the right thing to do, and if I end up doing the wrong thing, what can I do to protect myself. That is the thought that should run through your mind before you end up fucking the gothy slut next door. Of course, if you're messed up on occultist voodoo moonshine which makes Acid seem like a six pack of O'Doul's, then that's probably not going to happen. See, that's exactly the sort of thing that can hinder a man's reasoning skills and make him forget that he: 1) already has a girlfriend, 2) doesn't own a condom, C) heard blood curdling screams in that apartment, ect. Now you wake up covered in slime, your wang may or may not drip off the bone, and you've got to face it pal that you're up shit creek. You could spend the rest of your short miserable life in despair and regret... OR...

You could go on a f'n rampage and kill that bum who bothered you earlier. Which is exactly what Alex does… Alright Alex! Upon succumbing to his murderous insanity filled rage, the slime all but disappears from his flesh. What a startling revelation. What the hell does it mean though? Is he going nuts, or is there something truly wrong with his body and soul. He washes up when there's a knock at the door. It's Roman, looking heroin chic in his all black atire, tanktop, tight jeans and devilock hairstyle, and he's brought Alex some leftovers from the other night. Alex seems worried and asks him, "Listen, has that stuff ever made you hallucinate, or do anything strange?" "Sure," Roman tells him, "all the time, that's what's so great about it!" How can you not like this guy? Lori calls him up and invites him to dinner with her parents. Alex is hesitant but agrees, as usual, that seems like the kind of guy he is. And after that the thought of food must have gotten to him, since he begins to chow down on more of that nasty Himalayan Yogurt (The Frogurt is also cursed!). Of course with that running through his bloodstream now he heads over to Nicole's apartment and raids her fridge for some of that tasty wine. Chugging it like an addict to the dark arts, the sense of dread looms over Alex.

While out and about, Lori is confronted by a strange fortune telling woman who scares the crap out of her with her inane wordings, "You're in trouble. Terrible trouble.. I can tell. No, not you. Someone else, close to you perhaps. Your lover?" Obviously she knows what she's talking about. Come to my parlor and we'll talk, she says. A dollar is a small price to pay for a soul, she says. Real slick, for the "you're all doomed!" character at least, though she should probably work on her skills a bit. Meanwhile back at ye ol' haunted apartment structure, Alex is being led down to the basement by resident landlady Ruby. She holds out her arms, showcasing two shelves full of wine bottles and says, "Here it is, the legacy of Zachary." Looks like a pretty weak "legacy" to me. A few wine bottles, some jars of goo and a couple books? And speaking of the bottles, I'm not sure covering the necks with tin foil will keep the freshness in, nor the rot out.. I'm sure it's hard to find a good corkshop these days, but still, at least put some preparation and care into what will someday be your legacy for slime's sake!

At Lori's parent's house, where she lives at age 22, we find her father is a hardass who isn't exactly fond of Alex's non-corporate starving-artist beatnik ways. Can you blame him though? Alex thinks that once you're in the machine, it's not about the statement anymore, it's just product. Hey, that may be true, but pretty soon you're going to find yourself digging through trashcans just like Roman if you keep that mindset. Lori, against her father’s wishes, expresses that she is going to move it with Alex. But not so fast, as Alex has other plans! Things are moving too fast, and with the way Alex's life seems to be deteriorating with the rampant drug use and seedy new friends, it's probably not a good idea that she moves in with him. Lori is distraught, while speaking to her mother. "I don't understand this, we made plans."

"Alex seems to have made other plans." Cut to Alex, face bandaged up while he walks an Asian prostitute into his apartment. Other plans indeed! I suppose being a hooker isn't all fun and bangs, especially when your 'Johns' have their faces and hands bandaged up, and there's green goo dripping from between the wrapping. She wants to know who she's doing though, so she begins to slowly remove the nasty sticky bandages from his head. "I'm only doing this until I graduate" she says as she turns on the light and shines it on him. All of a sudden Alex rises up, with straight razor in hand and slashes her face in anger! Ah, straight razors... the weapon of choice amongst all psychopaths on a meltdown.

"You crazy bastard!"

We reach the halfway mark of the film and this is where light is shed on all the weird and crazy junk that's been going on. Alex, now sporting some manly shades of grey in his hair (ala Reed Richards, and just as charismatic), is going through Nicole's stuff when she walks in. Nicole isn't really Nicole, well she was rather, until she killed herself under the orders of Zachary. Her, and Zachary's other minions who committed mass suicide, eventually took over the bodies of the new tenants who moved in. The only one left, ready and waiting to come back to life, is Zachary himself... and now that Alex has been corrupted by wine, goo and the (fully clothed) sex, his body is ready to be taken over! Alex naturally becomes rather pissed off and storms out, telling Nicole or whatever the hell her name is that this isn't his idea of a cool time baby. All the while, Lori has become increasingly worried to the point where she decides to lay down the mad cash and see Helga for some unfortunate advice. Alex is in the midst of "The watchdogs of evil!", and she sees "naked bodies, engaged in Unspeakable acts." Naked bodies, did I miss something?

Lori's not the only one who's worried about Alex. His denim wearing buddy Jerry with the frizzed up do confronts him on the streets. "I know that people don't just change overnight unless they're doing some serious shit!" Alex erupts at him and storms off while Jerry screams "It's those neighbors of yours isn't it?!" Back at the apartment, Lori uses her key to enter Alex's apartment. (Even though he didn't want her to move in later, he had given her a key before the transformation.) She opens his fridge and finds pulsating goo inside, much to her horror! Naturally she begins to snoop around, and in his closet finds a box of unmentionables... such as sunglasses, bandages, muck covered gloves, a straight razor and a woman's red high heel shoe.

"What... are you doing!?" Alex says in a rather upset tone as he confronts her, his anger out of control now, and his paranoia becoming increasingly dangerous. But all the while, he somehow remains calm and goes on to uncover all the horrid little details of what went on in the house. For some reason though, he doesn't seem to just get the hell out of there... even when an investigator comes poking his nose around. Why not just get up and leave? I think I may have an idea. He's laying there in bed, covered in slime, writhing around in his Speedo while in the next apartment over, Nicole (with a bit of the Vampirella look going on) treats us do a cute little striptease. Complete without the stripping aspect, there's nothing like an erotic dance to take a film to the next level. [The music in the scene is quite reminicent of Goblin's Schock soundtrack, which adds to the trippy feeling.]

After being introduced to the sexiest woman in the film (who is in the film for all of two seconds *grumble*), Alex starts to gel up again and freaks out. So he runs away to bandage himself up, and decides to take the back alleys to get back home. This brings us to one of the films gorier, and not to mention funnier moments, where Alex is confronted by a group of young, black street thugs. They demand him to fork over the dollars "Alright Mister Invisible Man...", and when he tells them to get a job, the knife comes out... and goes in. (WATCH THE CLIP, while you can.) He disposes of their leader with a stomach chomp to the forearm, and arterial spray coats everything. The rest of the thugs proceed to crap their pants, and get the shit out of there.

Don't forget the boombox!

Alex runs home and checks his face in the mirror once again, only to be surprised by his old buddy Jerry, who was let in by the landlady. Jerry is worried, like any 'concerned' friend would be. He tells alex to get help, but that's not on Alex's agenda... see, he likes the way he's become. And thus ends their friendship, as Jerry's time to go bye-bye finally comes. So long Jerry, you'll be sorely missed. The film has entered its point of no return. All out madness has ensued and it's only going to get crazier! The stuff nightmares, and Cult Classics are made of. Alex has embraced his future, that he will surely become Zachary and lose his soul.

In one of my favorite scenes, Lori stops by Alex's place. Nicole stands across the hall in her doorway and the two of them exchange looks. Subtle, but a brilliant scene I'd have to say. We're then cut to the after-effects of what I'm guessing was finally Lori's first sexual encounter in life. She lays shirtless under the covers, smiling, as she has just given herself to the man she loves. According to Alex, she just laid there and let him do all the work. Not bad for a first timer I guess, but he's used to take-charge women like Nicole, so consider him displeased. Lori turns over and notices his pillow drenched in goo, but doesn't make too big a deal out of it since well, what does she know about sex anyways? That can be a normal thing as far as she's concerned. Lori wanders around the apartment and checks out Zachery's book on possessing flesh, and after his shower, Alex returns and begins to massage her shoulders. Starting off slowly, he begins to put more pressure unto her neck.

"Alex, you're hurting me."

"No, I'm killing you."

Let the strangulation commence! Heh, I've always wanted to say that. They exchange a little fork-play and Alex, or make that Zachary, chases her around the room. "You turned me into what I am, you little cocktease!" In the finale, which features most all of the special effects and took five days to film, we come to find out that either this Zachary guy is pretty much a complete wuss, or as Lori thrashed him, there was still a bit of Alex left that held back and let himself be killed. In the end, Lori did what needed to be done to save Alex. Cut off his head, dismembered his limbs, stuck a knife through his temple.. and when his brain tried to crawl away, she hacked it to little pieces. After all, you know what they say: If you love them, set them free... with a meat cleaver.

So what is it that makes Slime City so bloody awesome? I don't know.. I guess it was just Born with it!

It was conceived in that fateful time peroid where it ties itself to films such as Street Trash and Brain Damage. Sort of a demented family trio, they're made all the better if viewed back to back to back. Lamberson was first assistant director on Brain Damage. James Muro (world famous steadycam operator, pot smoker, and director of Street Trash) worked the camera on this film. The special effects were done by those same crazy guys who did work for Street Trash and The Toxic Avenger. Lamberson regulars Mary Huner, in a double role as both Lori and Nicole, and that lovable scamp Robert Sabin go all out with their performances. Robert Tomaro, who did the work on the insane music for this, didn't go on to do anything further as far as I can tell.. which is strange, since the soundtrack here is very memorable. Memorable as well is the sickening gore and slime! Which of course is why anyone would probably grab this DVD off the shelves in the first place, say if they didn't know anything about it... the name of the film is SLIME CITY. Gross things are going to occur.

Some people, yes even horror fans, criticize the film for having a slow as a snail pace. Lamberson himself, for the 1999 VHS release even trimmed scenes to shorten the running time. Later he found that the cuts didn't all work in the film's favor however, and for the DVD release which is currently in print from Retro Shock-O-Rama Cinema, he incorporated a few of those cut scenes back in while leaving the rest out. So technically this could be called the third cut of the film, "or the Ultimate cut, that is until an HD release." Though I personally don't find the film to lag as much as people say, I think that some have mistaken pacing problems for its disentranced and aloof atmosphere. The film, even though over the top, plays it calm and somewhat dissasociative in nature. Much like, say, The Deadly Spawn. In both films there are many reasons for the "normal people" to freak out completely, or skip town, but everyone seems far too laid back for that sort of thing. So laid back that the viewer might become confused.

The DVD truely is of Collector's Edition standards, as the film is remastered from Original Vault Elements, has been properly letterboxed to 1:78:1, anamorphically enhanced, and looks great even if a few bits of dirt and scratches show up now and then. The Making Of Slime mini-documentary is a bit short, but with the inclusion of a six page foldout with liner notes by Lamberson, you'll get more great info. The commentary from Lamberson and Sabin is top drawer. And if that wasn't all, the DVD contains Lamberson's third feature film Naked Fear (1999) which also has a commentary track from the director and two stars Sabin and Tommy Sweeny.

I think if you're a fan of this film, or films of this type, then you already know what Slime City is. If you're not into this sort of genre, or don't understand it, then, if I were capable of pity, I would indeed pity you. If you're of the explorative type, I say not only give it a try, but own it as well. Greg Lamberson's films get better with each viewing, I have found. Being let in on a lot (not all) of the inside jokes discussed in the commentaries and such, make them all the more enjoyable when you revisit the films. The director and stars are, in a word, likable. Even if you're one who tends to dislike everything...

Slime City is highly Recommended.

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