6. Blood Rage (1987)
5. The Prey (1984)
4. Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987)
3. Creep (1995)
2. The Outing aka The Lamp (1987)
1. Troll 2 (1990)
Before The Andromeda Strain. Before Alien. Before Armageddon.
There was The Green Slime.
By Woofer McWooferson
Director: Kinji Fukasaku; Writers: Bill Finger (screenplay) (as William Finger), Ivan Reiner (story) , Tom Rowe (screenplay) , Charles Sinclair (screenplay); Stars: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel; Rating: G; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1969
“Nothing exciting ever happens around here.” Words that any moviegoer knows is a trigger for something exciting to happen – but not usually the kind of excitement that the characters would enjoy. In The Green Slime, the excitement comes in the form of an asteroid breaking out of orbit and hurtling toward Earth at a phenomenal rate. Earth's only hope is to blast apart the asteroid, and the only man capable of successfully heading that mission is the soon to be retired Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton). With less than ten hours to destroy the asteroid, Rankin is on his way to the space station headed up by his former partner Commander Vince Elliot (Richard Jaeckel). In an awkward love triangle that is edited out of the Japanese version, Rankin's ex is one of the station's doctors, Dr. Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi), and she is currently with Elliot. Can these two commanders overcome their rivalry and join together to save Earth?
There's more than one threat from this asteroid, though, and our hapless astronauts are unaware of the danger they face. After saving Earth from the asteroid, the crew returns to the station to undergo decontamination – three times. They have unwittingly returned with a hitchhiker, and soon the space station is under attack by the green slime that lived on the surface of the asteroid. Once again Rankin and Bass – er – Rankin and Elliot must work together to save Earth.
There is a reason that MST3K chose The Green Slime for their pilot/promo episode, and that reason is that The Green Slime has it all – major and more major threat, technical jargon, harried ground control, dashing astronauts, a doctor who wants to save the slime for SCIENCE, and the woman who loved both commanders. Not only that, The Green Slime comes with a funky theme song that has a good beat and you can dance to it.
BONUS FACT: Director Kinji Fukasaku also directed Battle Royale, Battle Royale II, and the Japanese segments of Tora! Tora! Tora!
5/10 claws – cheesy goodness for everyone! Invite your friends, but don't forget the green slime cheese topping!
The (Steaming) Screaming Skull
A Review of The Screaming Skull on Its Own and as a Classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 Episode
By Woofer McWooferson
Director: Alex Nicol; Writer: John Kneubuhl; Stars: John Hudson, Peggy Webber, Russ Conway, Alex Nicol; Rating: Unrated; Run Time: 68 min; Genre: Horror, Thriller ; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1958
Horror movies have been around since the beginning of cinema and have evolved along with it. That which is considered terrifying for one generation may be laughable to another. True gems mature with age, their appeal never being lost from generation to generation. Gaudy baubles become rich fodder for riffing. The (Steaming) Screaming Skull is one of the great gaudy baubles of the 50s, boring and drab on its own, but a real delight when viewed through the lens of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K).
The plot is rather typical: newlyweds Eric (John Hudson) and Jenni (Peggy Webber) arrive at the ancestral home of the husband's late wife where Jenni begins to see and hear things that make her doubt her sanity. Suspicion quickly falls on Mickey (Alex Nichol, who also directed), the slow gardener who was more than fond of Eric's first wife Marion.
Although the movie begins slowly, the pace never picks up, and the movie plods along to the bitter end. I remember this one scaring the life out of me when I was six. I crouched behind my father's chair so that the skull could not see me as I peeked around to watch the movie from the safety of my hiding spot. The titular skull shows up throughout the film, both in actuality as well as spectrally from the camera's point of view. The viewer is led to believe that the latter are manifestations of the wife's subconscious as she falls further and further from sanity.
According to trivia on the IMDB.com page, the movie is based on a novel of the same name by Francis Marion Crawford, but it is not credited as such. Crawford's novel is said to be inspired by the “screaming skull” on display at Bettiscomb Manor, Dorset, England.
The Screaming Skull debuted on August 29, 1998 (season 10, episode 12) of MST3K. Due to its short run time, the film is preceded by a Gumby short entitled Robot Rumpus – a fact that is not lost on the 'bots. The MST3K treatment is flawless, beginning with their disappointment that the movie begins with a disclaimer that anyone who dies of fright will get a free coffin but there is no word of a coffin if someone dies of boredom. As Mike (Michael J. Nelson), Crow (Bill Corbett), and Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy) riff their way through the slow torture that is The Screaming Skull, viewers are treated to some of their best assessments (“This should be called Screaming semicolon Skull” -Mike) and host segments that leave little doubt as to their opinion of this steaming pile of... skulls.
The Screaming Skull is classified as both horror and thriller, but the only real horror is the chalky blandness of the performances and the only thrill is that MST3K riffed it.
3/10 claws on its own, two for the amazing Huntington Hartford Estate and one for its ability to scare 6-year-olds in the 1950s and 60s.
8/10 claws for the MST3K treatment