Still image from a video posted to YouTube here.
Nevermind Outbreak. Last night, my wife and I discovered a movie on Amazon Prime that proved surprisingly relevant to the the quarantined shut down of American life. Despite its execrably cheesy science fiction surface, The Green Slime comes across as a prescient vision of America’s Space Force in action–fighting the contemporary menace of Coronavirus infection.
By now you’ve probably watched the above trailer, so the highlights of this festering pile of camembert are self evident: goofy model sets, astronauts blasting stuff in space, the female cast clad in silver go-go outfits, and monsters manufactured by guys hired away from the Godzilla franchise. And then the theme song: a groovy blast of psychedelic rock highlighted by acidic guitar solos and spooky theremin sweeps, while a guy sounding like Tom Jones belts out the silly lyrics! I’ve never heard anyone get so emotional while delivering the words “the green slime,” and I doubt you have either.
Although probably not strictly necessary, here’s a brief plot summary. A giant asteroid looking like a magnified COVID-19 blob threatens to collide with earth. The USA quickly rounds up its Space Force, lead by romantic rivals, which races off to intercept the threat. The force lands on the asteroid to plant detonators, while a scientist collects samples of a green substance that spreads over their moonmobiles. Some of the slime hitches a ride back to the space station, where it grows into Sigmund and the Sea Monsters’ cousins. The space station must be quarantined to avoid spreading the creatures to earth. Of course, destroying the station is the only solution, and the place is evacuated. Cue explosions. Slime contained and destroyed. Over and out.
Aside from that amazing theme song, the 1969 production holds some interest of its own, being a combination of flamboyant Eurotrash science fiction sensibilities, Japanese style monsters and modelwork, and efficiently tight Hollywood editing. Indeed, it was a collaboration between Toei, who contributed a director and locations, and MGM. It’s not surprising that Mystery Science Theater 3000 used it for their pilot episode, as it’s ridiculously easy to throw mockery at the absurd delights appearing before your eyes.
Irony free drive-in fodder like The Green Slime is an easy watch that goes well with crunchy snacks and alcoholic bevvies of choice. (I can personally recommend an Aviation cocktail or four, but that’s the current house favorite.) But it’s not often that these films resonate with current events. In these grim times of pandemic quarantine amidst a backdrop of official buffoonery, one needs a little laugh. Around here, we’ll be singing the “Green Slime” song to get us through the long, nervous days. You might try it yourself.
The new issue of Utsanga (#23, March 2020) was released today, packed with visual poetry, asemic writing, text work and poetics to help us while away the quarantined hours. It’s one of the the major journals documenting the international literary avant garde, and a quick glance of this one reveals interesting work by John Bennett/Texas Fontanella, Mark Young, Judith Pauly-Bender, Axel Calatayud, Francesco Aprile…well, it will take a while to check it all out. I’m pleased that the issue includes ten of my visual poems from a series incorporating tape samples (from Chinese newspapers) and asemic writing. You can check it out here.
That time my article on pin up painting collector Art Amsie’s National Glamour Archives appeared in Washington City Paper (February 16, 2001). The “archives” was an informal room in Amsie’s condo with a brag wall of oil paintings by many of the major figures of vintage pin up art. Think Gil Elvgren, Alberto Vargas, Joyce Ballantyne. The kind of stuff you see in calendars and coffee table books. Amsie had another claim to fame in that he had been an amateur club photographer who snapped shots of Bettie Page. Rather good shots, actually. Amsie passed away in 2006; I don’t know where his collection resides today. You can read the full article here.