THE SLIME PEOPLE (1963) Reviews and overview

 

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‘Up from the bowels of the Earth come…’

The Slime People is a 1963 American science-fiction horror film about a race of subterranean reptile-men invading Los Angeles.

Directed by actor Robert Hutton (his only directorial effort, although he co-wrote the script for Persecution) from a screenplay written by Blair Robertson (The Phantom Gunslinger), Joseph F. Robertson [as Vance Skarstedt] (Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies).

The Joseph F. Robertson production stars Robert Hutton (Man Without a Body; The Vulture; Trog);  Les Tremayne (The Monolith Monsters; The Angry Red Planet; The Monster of Piedras Blancas), Robert Burton (I Was a Teenage Frankenstein), Susan Hart (City in the Sea; Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine; Ghost in the Invisible Bikini).

The soundtrack score was composed by Lou Frohman (Blackenstein).

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Plot:

A race of subterranean reptile-men (dubbed “slime people” due to their slime-covered skin) create a wall of “solidified fog” around Los Angeles and proceed to invade the city.

A pilot (Robert Hutton) lands in Los Angeles after some difficulties in flight, only to find the city almost deserted after a mysterious war. Later, he encounters other survivors, including a scientist and his two daughters and the group does their best to halt the further invasion of the Slime People…

Production:

The film was infamous for its extensive use of fog machines, with the fog becoming so thick towards the end that it is virtually impossible to see any of the actors.

Filmed at the KTLA television studio, the film ran out of money after nine days’ shooting; the cast completed the film without pay. According to director Hutton in a 1989 interview, designing and making the slime people costumes consumed over half the film’s entire budget.

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Reviews:

” …for all of its clumsiness and ineptitude — parts of the movie look and play like they literally filmed a rehearsal — The Slime People does work in very short spurts, as a reasonably enjoyable bad movie. It offers none of the delights of Edward D. Wood Jr.’s work, but as a specimen of a kind of cheap, popular entertainment of a certain era, it has its limited charm.” AllMovie

“The filmmakers do pull off a neat trick by telling us the whole backstory through archival footage of newscasts discovered at a TV station. Of course, the fog helps to obscure any shortcomings that might have cropped up, but by the end of the movie it’s very, very thick, and being in black and white anyway, the thick gray haze quickly grows annoying, as you suspect that any action that is being hidden isn’t worth straining to see.” The Bad Movie Report

Slime People does not make viewers wait until the last 15 minutes to see the monsters. They appear before the title does. The rubber suits aren’t all that badly done, and are wisely kept visible for fairly brief glimpses. Longer views of them (such as in the fight scenes) expose their low-budget-ness.” Classic Sci-Fi Movies

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The Slime People has become a minor treat for those who love classic monster-movie camp. You’ll chuckle over the flat dialogue… the female characters who do nothing but scream and complain, and the poor lighting and static camera angles, and of course the lumbering Slime Men.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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“Strictly for the crud-and-erosion crowd.” John Stanley, Creature Features

“The first few minutes are the best. Tom Laughlin, who later did the “Billy Jack” series, makes an early appearance. There’s one great line: in a romantic situation, you hear “When I’m with you, I don’t even think about slime people.” Down Among the “Z” Movies

“Ninety per cent of the film is literally in a haze of fog, in fact, there is so much fog, that you will have a difficult time seeing any of the actors. Luckily for us, Horton and the few other survivors devise a way to remove the thick mist and send the pesky Slime People back to wherever they came from.” DVD Drive-In

“Smoke pots are used in some scenes, and a lot of the movie uses an optical with a misty overlay effect: I bet they fainted when they got the lab bill for that one. But we never for a minute buy this giant dome concept. The screenplay gets both romantic couples kissing within a few minutes of meeting, with little attempt to put anything more than the bare minimum of exposition into scenes.” DVD Talk

“When dumb-ass monsters, lame action scenes, awful dialog, bad acting and clunky direction are the best things one can point out about a movie, the viewer is in for either (A) a tasty pan-load of warm, gooey cinematic cheese, or (B) a serious bout of deep hurting. The Slime People leans towards the former — provided your tolerance for schlock runs very high.” Eccentric Cinema

“Though fog can be used effectively for atmosphere and mood, here it just obscures the action on a regular basis, making many of the scenes hard to see (not to be confused with making scenes hard to watch). Thus, watching the movie ends up requiring more work than is necessary, and the movie just isn’t interesting enough to merit that extra work. Consequently, despite the potential for interest here, the movie is no fun.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

” …the monster costumes […] are actually pretty awesome. It’s also pretty neat that the monsters are intelligent and use spears to attack people, instead of the norm for these kinds of movies where they just shuffle along with their arms outstretched and hug people to death. Still, the rest of it is a really formulaic 50’s horror movie, and other than those monsters, it’s pretty unremarkable.” Films in Boxes

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The Slime People was shot in black-and-white with next to no bucks in the coffer, and the producer and his wife playing bit parts to shave expenses…all deemed virtues at the Manor Mansion […]  Another plus is that the Slimers, who reach the surface by crawling out of manholes, resemble ambulatory six-foot piles of the very materials found in sewers.  (Do I really need to spell that out for you?)” Manor on Movies

“The slime people looked halfway decent (when you could see them through the fog). It’s too bad there were at most only three of them in any given shot. As I said before, it was hard to imagine that anybody was being “overrun” by them. Another irritating thing about this film was the overuse of the smoke machines.” The Monster Shack

“The Slime People themselves actually look quite good (and they should, considering that they cost almost half the film’s meager budget), with a memorable mask and distinctive, hunched over walking position.  Unless, of course, you see them full-body, when it suddenly becomes rather obvious that their scaly hide is like a very heavy coat with the actor’s skinny legs sticking out underneath. And, of course, it is your traditional invading army of three.” Rivets on the Poster

“This might have been more exciting if the fog effects didn’t cover up most of the action, creating a general gloom that at times makes it impossible to work out what’s going on. Some have found humour in the underfunded attempts to rustle up tension, but even for a movie lasting little over an hour, it does test the patience.” The Spinning Image

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” …The Slime People was almost entertaining in a weird and fascinating way. Strange as it may seem, this movie might not seem so awful in the wee hours of the morning, but when viewed in the full light of day, it is something that should be avoided, much like the titular Slime People themselves.  Definitely bad, but surprisingly good.” The Telltale Mind

” …of note is the creative method with which one needs to kill a ‘slime person’ (if that’s the right term). Spearing or shooting them is futile as their flesh gels together instantaneously. One needs to fashion a hollowed weapon or pipe to scoop or dice them apart […] Quick and quirky, it’s among the last in the great double-bill creature feature era.” The Terror Trap

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Mexican still as Los Ogros Escamosos “The Scaly Ogres” and featuring artwork for Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Cast and characters:

Robert Hutton … Tom Gregory
Les Tremayne … Norman Tolliver
Robert Burton … Professor Galbraith
Susan Hart … Lisa Galbraith
William Boyce … Cal Johnson
Judee Morton … Bonnie Galbraith
John Close … KTTV Reporter Vince Williams
Edward Finch Abrams … Vagrant in Theater (uncredited)
Bob Herron … Slime Person (uncredited)
Jock Putnam … Slime Person (uncredited)
Tracy J. Putnam … Doctor Timothy Brough (uncredited)
Blair Robertson … Mrs Castillo (uncredited)
Joseph F. Robertson … Vagrant in Theater (uncredited)
Fred Stromsoe … Slime Person (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Bel Air, Los Angeles, California (burned neighbourhood)
KTLA-TV Studios, 5800 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California (studio)
Lancaster, California (butcher shop)
Mandeville Canyon Road, Los Angeles, California
San Fernando Airport – Dronfield Avenue & Aviation Place, San Fernando, California (airport)
Whiteman Field Airport, 12653 Osborne Street, Pacoima, California

Filming dates:

Production began on January 8, 1962

Technical details:

76 minutes
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.33: 1
Audio: Mono

Release:

Released on September 18th 1963 by Hansen Enterprises in Boston, Massachusetts on a double-bill with The Crawling Hand

Working title:

Tomorrow You Die

Fun facts:

Susan Hart didn’t have to read for the role of Bonnie Galbraith; she was automatically cast on the basis of her attractive looks alone when she showed up for the casting session. Because of this film’s low budget, she was given only $35 to buy her own wardrobe.

The scenes in the butcher shop and freezer were filmed in an actual butcher shop owned by the father-in-law of actor Robert Hutton in Lancaster, California.

The scenes of devastation supposedly caused by the fight with the slime people (shown briefly while the group is driving away from the airport) is actually footage of the Hollywood hills shortly after a wildfire swept through the area.

The original trailer was scored with music from The Angry Red Planet (1959).

Trailer:

 

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