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  Slithis The Slime Creature
Year: 1977
Director: Stephen Traxler
Stars: Alan Blanchard, Judy Motulsky, J.C. Claire, Dennis Falt, Mello Alexandria, Win Condict, Rocky Fumarelli, John Hatfield, Hy Pike, Daphnae Cohen, Steven J. Hoag, Wendy Rastattar, Don Cummins, David Ridenour, Dave Carlton, Gregory Clemmons
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: In the canals area of Venice - California, not Italy - there has been a spate of pet slaughters, with little kids stumbling across a couple of dogs with part of their flesh missing recently, for example. The police are baffled, but journalism professor Wayne Connors (Alan Blanchard) is intrigued at this mystery on his doorstep and means to find out more by conducting his own private investigation as to what is behind the killings. His wife Jeff (Judy Motulsky) is sceptical about his crazy theories, but when a local couple are not only attacked in their home but stripped of their flesh like the animals, Wayne thinks he is onto something and starts to obsess over uncovering every scrap of truth...

Eco-horror was a thing in the nineteen-seventies, the biggie in that respect was Steven Spielberg's Jaws which informed the style of a lot of these efforts, including this which more or less posited what the Richard Dreyfuss character from there would be like if he was the focus of the movie and hunting down a radioactive monster from the ocean floor. This updating of a concept that would have snugly fit into a fifties science fiction item, complete with a man in a rubber costume, was what Slithis (sometime called Spawn of the Slithis) was all over, much like many of its peers which would blame humanity's capacity for polluting the environment for all kinds of dreadful consequences.

Actual flesh-devouring creatures as a by-product of those consequences were scarce in real life, but in the movies of the seventies, you could hardly move in your local cinema and not bump into one playing in the latest horror flick. The menace in question here was nicely designed in a bulked-up Creature from the Black Lagoon manner, not that director Stephen Traxler was going to offer you in the audience too good a view of it, but you saw enough to believe that suit was the highlight of the film. Troubles arose when he tried to build a story around it, and the results were as dull as a number of its contemporaries which relied on their effects makeup to carry the entire production.

The Incredible Melting Man, we're looking in your general direction, but Slithis had similar issues, one being there was no real mystery here: we are told from the off that the monster has been created from radiation and eats people, and there were no further revelations to arrive outside of those first five minutes, making for a slog of a movie if you were not in the mood for seventies cheese. Wayne was not a sufficiently well-defined protagonist to hold the interest, as he did not possess much of a personality outside of a dogged determination to uncover all he could about the munching monstrosity, all the while his efforts to alert the populace fell on deaf ears. Fair enough, many a horror effort had an everyman at their heart, but he had no distinguishing features to speak of.

What this resembled was an adaptation of the movie's own tie-in paperback, had such an object existed, but the sense that stronger material was left on the page never deserted Slithis, particularly when other horrors were happy to go further. There was a sequence where a couple of partygoers retire to the male half of the couple's boat for a canoodle and he ends up slashed open while she has her clothes partially ripped off, which suggested Traxler was keen to go to places that Humanoids of the Deep had the guts to a couple of years later (or was bad taste enough to), but mostly we were not following the beast at all, we were tracing the efforts of Wayne to find out stuff we were already well aware of, and tedium was an unfortunate result. However, if you liked that seventies milieu, redolent of the bog standard movies and television of the day, this provided plenty of that, it was just too derivative of not only better pieces, but worse ones too, to be something to lose yourself in. Music by Steve Zuckerman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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