Happy Independence Day! It’s halfway through 2020 and it’s been a pretty choppy year for all of us. But looking on the bright side, I’ve been delighted to reach across the ocean and share so many great films, crushing my 25,000 viewers-this-year-so-far target today! Thanks to everyone who reads, contributes and shares their thoughts. I’ve been serving up double helpings of reviews for the last few days, and today, we’ve got…Spawn of the Slithis!
Or just Slithis, if you prefer, but writer/director Stephen Traxler’s cult classic would smell as dank by any other name. Reflecting what was presumably a growing social problem in L.A.’ s Venice Beach area in the late 1970’s, Traxler’s film is concerned with the activities of sub-aquatic fish-men coming ashore to mangle our pets, much on vagrants and generally cause havoc in the Santa Monica area.
The surroundings of Third Street Promenade are fairly gentrified these days, but Slithis does a bang-up job of making Venice Beach look like a hell-hole. The eco-credentials are fairly sharp, with a similar line to 1979’s Prophecy in that the leak of contaminated nuclear waste has created the Slithis, and intrepid reporter Wayne Connors (Alan Blanchard) is on the case.
The actual Slithis monster costume is quite impressive in a downbeat way, but it’s the wayward moments that catch the attention here; when the local cop shows up, he goes off into a long monologue about his personal health that indicates that the cast allowed themselves free rein to improvise. This is the kind of low-budget, semi-improvised work where minor characters suddenly start yammering about what the imagine it might be like to work in a ball-bearing factory in Stockholm, so it’s best just to go with the flow.
Eventually, Connors recruits a few locals to his monster hunt, conducted in a jovial way with many high-fives and group-hugs along the way. ‘I’m ready to put a hook in that slimy beast,’ says one, and so they do, but there’s amusement along the way if you’re in the market for a ramshackle Jaws rip-off filmed in the back-gardens of the cast and crew. Slithis is a curio, but hardened veterans of the endless sci-fi/horror cycle will find some choice moments of sheer inanity to amuse here.