Nostalgia for Killer Blobs

The following piece was originally published on The Cinementals site in early June 2012:

Recently, I attended a fun and nostalgic cinematic treat. I live in a college town in Kansas, where the opportunities for enjoying classic cinema in a public venue are not exactly frequent. Kansas Public Radio’s Retro Cocktail Hour hosted a duo of drive-in classics for “Killer Blob Night.” (KPR’s Retro Cocktail Hour is a weekly radio show devoted to the Space Age Pop revival genre. Picture a “Mad Men” happy hour soundtrack.) The Double Feature included the oozing, pulsating, flesh-eating Kinji Fukasaku’s THE GREEN SLIME (1968) and Mario Bava’s (uncredited) CALTIKI, THE IMMORTAL MONSTER (1959). The experience that followed was an audience verbally engaged akin to “Mystery Science 3000” with shout-out commentary, laughter and howls at every campy gaffe.

The Japanese-American co-production of the B movie cult favorite THE GREEN SLIME oozes with campy delight. As an asteroid hurdles towards earth, a crew must launch to save the day. A feisty love triangle develops between Gamma III station Commander Vince Elliott (portrayed by Richard Jaeckel, also known for THE DIRTY DOZEN), cocky and devoid of any emotion Commander Jack Rankin (portrayed by Robert Horton of TV series fame such as “Wagon Train” and “A Man Called Shenandoah”) and love interest Dr. Lisa Benson (portrayed by Italian beauty Luciana Paluzzi of THUNDERBALL and MUSCLE BEACH PARTY fame). The crew lands upon the speeding asteroid rock and drills in prep for explosion, a scene plot eerily similar and precursor to “Armageddon” (1998). In a hurried departure, a scientist on the team accidentally brings back some green slime on his space suit after completing a successful mission. Quickly things go haywire at the station as the green ooze evolves into one-eyed tentacled creatures whose energy feeds off and weapon for destruction is electricity. It turns out when the creatures are zapped by the crew’s weapons, not unlike some plot components from ALIEN, their green blood just makes them grow stronger! This cult gem was the first film covered in Mystery Science 3000’s never aired pilot. All this it’s-so-bad-it’s-good-goodness is made even better by it’s theme song. It was written by Charles Fox; well known music composer of 100+ film music scores, songs and TV theme songs from “Love, American Style” to Grammy winning “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” 

The second entry of the double feature was the Italian production, CALTIKI, THE IMMORTAL MONSTER. It shows Riccardo Freda as director but he claimed later that Mario Bava did most the directing after just a few days into production. The B cast ensemble includes John Merivale, Didi Sullivan, Gerard Herter, and Daniela Rocca. The plot centers around a group of archeologists exploring Mayan ruins who discover ancient Caltiki via pulsating, rapidly growing and flesh-eating blob monsters. In discovering Mayan gold and many skeletons in a hidden cave lake, one of the first  victims is driven by greed for more yet narrowly escapes and becomes partially mutated then later turns into a killer driven by madness. As the blobs continue to mutant and grow, armies attack with fire blowers. The plot thickens as a comet reappears after a 1300 year absence which showers radiation to make the ancient flesh-eating blob turn into one enormous pile of goo destined for world domination. For it’s time and budget, there are some impressive special effects including underwater shots, authentic looking Mayan ruin sets, gory half-melted flesh shots and a film noir feel.

One of the highlights of the evening was the appearance of a local celeb, Crematia Mortem (aka Roberta Solomon, vocal and TV talent) She was the host of a late night TV show “CREATURE FEATURE” which aired from 1981-1988 and featured the best of the worst in horror and monster flicks. You could say growing up watching campy creature and horror flicks had an impact on me. Because of this influence, last year I discovered a twitter community for cinematic fans of B-movies experience called the @DriveInMob and I continue to reach out to fellow cinementals through twitterverse and other social media formats. After all, what’s better than sharing your love for all the genres of classic cinema with other fans?   

 

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Comments

  1. Gasp! I can't believe I don't know ANY of these movies! Where on earth have I been? Thanks for bringing me up to speed – I mean it!

    Like

  2. You're most welcome! I'm so glad you enjoyed it and I hope you can see these cult classic films someday soon. SO much fun!

    Like

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