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I love a ‘so bad it’s good’ movie just as much as the next movie geek, but this 1978 “gem” is just all around bad. I had the misfortune of catching this at the Oritani Theater back in ’78 and let’s just say it hasn’t gotten any better with age and it’s still so bad that the 70s nostalgia just doesn’t help.
The movie…also known as Spawn Of The Slithis…tells the story of a school teacher (Alan Blanchard) who, is trying to solve the mystery of some animal mutilations and then human murders around a Venice, California cove. The police think it’s a serial killer or a cult and forensics can’t seem to tell animal bites when they see them. He discovers that a leak from a nearby nuclear plant created an organic sludge called “Slithis” (the name of which is never explained) that takes on characteristics of what it absorbs and it is now a humanoid fish monster craving food…preferably, human food.
From it’s awful dialog to the even worse delivery of that dialog (an actor playing a police chief seems to think he’s playing a bad guy on a Sid and Marty Kroft TV show), Slithis is mind-numbingly bad. The pacing is slow. Half the film’s shots are in slow motion for no reason, including the goofy opening scene of a fat kid playing frisbee. This means that it’s scant 80 minute running time would be less then an hour without them and it makes one wonder if they were trying to stretch this out to feature length. The Slithis creature costume is okay, but it looks like a pudgy Creature From The Black Lagoon and the human eyes are just too nice and blue to illicit fears. Not sure if that was intended to imply the creature was part human, or just not enough money to afford scary contact lenses. As for fear, it is something this flick completely lacks. From the easily telegraphed attack scenes, where most of the carnage is off camera, to the tone, which goes from dead serious to oddly whimsical at times, Slithis can’t generate any suspense or tension whatsoever. It’s hard to figure out what kind of film writer/director Stephen Traxler was trying to make here as it’s serious one minute and goofy the next. There is some blood, but with a PG rating, Slithis is rather tame and there are only a few attack sequences, as the film is very talky for an 80 minute creature feature.
An awful film that somehow has garnered a bit of a reputation. After revisiting it, though, I can only guess it was from lack of availability, as the film has very little to recommend, even to fans of bad movies. Even more disappointing was the “Slithis survival kit” that was advertised to go along with the film, was just a small reproduction of the poster with instructions to leave it under your pillow, so the Slithis would leave you be…even the giveaway gimmick was cheap and disappointing.
1 and 1/2 Slithis…Slithi?…with pretty blue eyes