THE GREEN SLIME (1968)
Ten years before the campy fun of Message From Space, Kinji Fukasaku (who directed Battle Royale as well) helmed this equally campy and equally fun 60s space opera about a space station overrun by tentacled alien creatures played by Japanese midgets in rubber suits. The film stars Robert Horton as hot shot Commander Rankin who is sent on a perilous mission to blow up a giant asteroid hurtling toward earth by landing on it and planting explosives. The mission is launched from space station Gamma 3 commanded by rival Commander Elliot (Richard Jaeckel) and the two butt heads over command issues and their mutual love interest, the sexy station doctor, Lisa (Luciana Paluzzi). But all that soap opera nonsense will have to wait as the asteroid is destroyed, but a sample of an organic tissue splashed onto one of the space suits makes it’s way back to Gamma 3 and soon grows into an army of one-eyed, green creatures with electrified tentacles. Can Rankin and Elliot put aside their differences and mutual lust for buxom space doll Lisa before these creatures overrun the station and kill everyone on board?
This colorful and fun B-movie as directed by the versatile Fukasaku was a co-production from MGM and Japan’s Toei Studios with a mainly Anglo cast, who take the silly proceedings dead serious and that’s what makes this so much fun. The SPFX are delightfully cheesy as are the sets, the totally 60s sci-fi costumes and the hilariously campy dialogue. It’s like watching a 60s rubber monster version of Aliens!
A fun and entertaining flick that is a really nostalgic good time if you can appreciate monster movies like this. Very 60s and a lot of fun. A nice, no frills DVD and Blu-Ray is available from MGM’s archive website.
3 and 1/2 (out of 4) rubber suited space monsters!
MESAGE FROM SPACE (1978)
Message From Space is Japan’s answer to Star Wars, though there are not as many similarities as one might expect, as this colorful and deliriously fun space adventure is actually based on a Japanese legend, The Legend of the Eight Samurai. Message tells the tragic story of the planet Jillucia, which is ravaged and conquered by the Gavanas, led by tyrannical leader Rockseia XXII (Mikio Narita) and his henpecking mother (actor Hideyo Amamoto in drag). The Jillucians send out a distress in the form of eight glowing seeds which legend says will lead eight warriors, picked by the gods, to come to their defense. Jillcucian Princess, Emeralida (Etsuko Shihom) leaves to follow them and gather the warriors to return with her. Soon a ragtag group of both would be and reluctant defenders, including retired drunk General Garuda (Vic Morrow), exiled Gavana, Prince Hans (Sonny Chiba) and a bunch of space racing slackers, are off to Jillucia to take on the invaders who have now set their sights on Earth.
Directed by the versatile Kinji (Battle Royale) Fukasaku, Message From Space is a fast moving and delightfully silly and fun space opera. With an abundance of entertainingly cheezy SPFX and numerous battles and action sequences, this unlikely group of heroes go up against an almost invincible empire. You can have a real blast if you go into it with the right mindset and the right beverages. Vic Morrow’s drunken space general and his faithful robot sidekick are worth watching it for alone. There is also some really imaginative art direction and spaceship designs including a ship that resembles an old sea galleon. Message looks more like a live action Manga than a Star Wars clone with it’s art deco sets and space samurai costumes.
A really fun Saturday night film fest flick that would also make a great double feature with Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond The Stars if you can’t get your hands on The Green Slime. Also starring Philip Casnoff, Hiroyuki Sanada, Peggy Lee Brennan and Masazumi Okabe as Aaron, Shiro, Meia and Jack respectively, the young space slackers who become heroes. Message has just become available for the first time on a beautifully remastered DVD and Blu-Ray from the awesome people at Shout Factory!
A campy , fun 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) star galleons