Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Slithis (1978)

SLITHIS

WRITER: Stephen Traxler

DIRECTOR: Stephen Traxler

STARRING: Alan Blanchard as Wayne Connors
    Judy Motulsky as Jeff
    J.C. Claire as Dr. John
    Dennis Lee Falt as Dr. Erin Burick
    Mello Alexandria as Chris Alexander
    Win Condict as The Monster

QUICK CUT: Afer a rash of puppcides sweeps through Venice Beach, a journalist investigates to discover the true cause.

THE MORGUE

    Wayne - A journalism...teacher who takes his knowledge to try and discover what's going on.  A very determined man, and once he's on a story, he keeps hunting.

    Doctor John - Master of the Slithic arts.  A scientist buddy of Wayne's that does all the research and exposition.

 Merry Slithmas!

Merry Slithmas!

THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions, December is here, 2017 is almost over, and I am finally getting around to a movie I've had on my list for years, but kept forgetting about.  I have no justification for why I am doing Slithis NOW, but it lets me make a bad Christmas pun, so there's that.  I am long over due for a classic monster movie...well, A monster movie.  Not so sure about the classic part...

The movie gets started with a pair of kids frolicking near the river in slow motion, seriously, this ENTIRE SCENE is in slomo.  Why?  WHY?  Ahem.  Anyways, they're playing Frisbee, one of them misses it, and runs after it to the riverbanks only to discovers a pair of mutilated puppies.  Well, that's not much fun.

And the entire scene plays out with this jaunty, happy music that could go along with a Gumby short or something.  It's fine for some of the scene, but WAY too happy for dead puppies.

From there we meet our lead, journalism teacher WAYNE CONNORS.  That's an action character's name if I ever saw one.  Why this guy has it, I don't know.  But Wayne pretty much just reads from the paper what we just saw and they head off to work.

 Kevin Murphy, is that you?

Kevin Murphy, is that you?

We next follow the creature as he stalks ANOTHER dog.  What does this movie have against dogs??  I thought the dog got away at first, but the creature follows it home and murders it, and then owners.  "Mom, dad, look what followed me hollllRRK!"

The creature busts into the house, punching in the screen door, and lemme tell ya, "Fuck Screen Doors" is way less impressive than our usual version.

I kinda love the pointless bickering between these two, and thinking it's just the dog busting through the screen door again, and trashing the house.  It feels so normal, until the monster slaughters them.

"You're gonna have a mess to clean up in the morning!"  Bub, you don't know the half of it, as your guts get added to that mess.

 Well, no wonder the monster trashed the place.

Well, no wonder the monster trashed the place.

After the attack of the Slith, Wayne hears about the latest mutilations, and decides to go check things out for himself, because he's a journalist.......teacher.

You can so tell this movie was made in a different time period, because the pacing is so slow from what we're used to.  We get to THRILL! as Wayne casually strolls all the way down the street to the Dolans' house.

He finds some weird sludge on the floor, and that's when a cop shows up and finds a stranger at an uncleared crime scene.  And there's a weird bit with the cop having a nasty cough, and they keep talking about eucalyptus drops.  This movie has such strange moments and weird momentum.

The cop gives him a warning and tells him to get out of there...which Wayne immediately ignores to get a sample of the mud on the floor.

He takes the sample to his friend Dr. John.  And I kinda love Dr. John.  He's a bit of a hippie, but he knows his shit, and he knows it ain't mud.  And continuing the weird cinematography, as he talks, the scene keeps fading to other random moments of animals.

Dr. John does his research and shows up at Wayne's house that night to spill the beans on what Wayne found; He found Slithis.  OH of course, that explains everything!

He weaves a tale, and weaves it well no less, of a toxic dump in the midwest, that caused some soil to become absorbative, that started taking on properties of bacteria and algae and other life, becoming a whole new rogue life form of its own.

 Thanks, Professor Exposition!

Thanks, Professor Exposition!

Wayne's girlfriend wants to know why they named it "Slithis" of all things, and all Doctor John can say is, "For the same reason your parents named you Jeff!" which I thought was weird the first time I saw this movie.  Second time around I realised wait, THAT ACTUALLY IS HER NAME.  Wha?

Later, we get to watch a pair of drunks get more drunk by the pier, and hear strange noises.  Bunky wanders off, and absolutely nothing happens save for people getting drunk and hearing the occasional strange noise.

Bunky shambles home, and as he rounds around a van, he runs smack into Slithis in another movie.  No seriously, so far, Slithis has not appeared in a single shot with anyone or anything.  We've been lucky to see him in an actual location, since most shots are just closeups against black.

 And introducing Sir Not Appearing in This Movie.

And introducing Sir Not Appearing in This Movie.

All of this is fortunate for Bunky, because if Slithis was in the movie, he'd be dead!  If he attacked Bunky though, since the Slithis absorbs traits from stuff, would it become a drunk?

In fact, Slithis is so not even in this movie, he wanders down the street, we hear a dog, ANOTHER ONE! and a woman scream.  He killed a woman we have NEVER SEEN.

The journalist (teacher) heads down to the pier to continue investigating, and runs into Bunky's friend, to ask him some questions.  He hears about the other guy who wandered off and goes to find Bunky.

 Who the hell is Bunky?

Who the hell is Bunky?

Wayne finally finds Bunky after wandering through half the town, and he shares his story, but he sure doesn't believe himself.  Wayne might actually believe him more than Bunky believes himself!

Jeff and Wayne head out to visit the doctor who first discovered the original Slithis spill, and see what he knows, and give us more fading to random shots of scenery as they talk.  This movie does not know how montages work.

They chat for a bit, to see if this actually IS Slithis, with the leading Slithis expert, and they actually sway him to agree that maybe sure, it might be possible.

 Dude, see a dermatologist.

Dude, see a dermatologist.

So Wayne heads out to get some soil samples to prove his theory, since that's way safer than trying to capture the creature.  Which we spend a looot of time watching from afar as the boat floats out in the canals and we see tiny figures doing things.

He heads home, gets the samples analyzed, and Doctor John can neither confirm nor deny any actual Slithiness with the stuff, and we cut to Wayne trying to convince the cops...VIA A CIRLCE WIPE.  What is this, PowerPoint??

The cop he talks with is SO HILARIOUSLY OVER THE TOP he might make this whole damned movie worth sitting through.  He's not just chewing scenery, he's baking it in the oven, seasoning it well, serving it with a side of ham, and then chewing it.

 CAP: Th-th-th-that's not all folks!

CAP: Th-th-th-that's not all folks!

Doctor John and Wayne come up with a plan to close off the canals, in hopes that it will stop the creature from getting to its food source, and head out to sea to get dinner instead of the local pound.  Yeah, great, make it someone else's problem.

Y'all know how I've been doing shorter, quicker reviews lately, cutting out a lot of the fluff, not getting into EVERY detail?  Yeah, well, bear with me here, because the movie diverts for a few minutes to force us to watch TURTLE RACES of all things.

It pretty much only serves to introduce us to a couple who are there, so they can get killed in a couple minutes.  At least we MET these people this time.  But watching as they shoot the shit in the car ride home just reminds me how slow this movie is paced.

 Speaking of slow...

Speaking of slow...

We spend, no exaggeration, nearly 10 minutes with these two people, since the turtle races, chatting in a car, and sitting on a couch.  JUST them, and one other guy.  Not a sign of our main characters, no monster, nothin'.  Even for allowing this is from a different time, this is SLOW.

But finally FINALLY they hear a noise, the guy goes to check it out and OUT OF NOWHERE the Slithis rawwrs and grabs him, killing him dead.  The girl follows suit shortly afterwards.  And bonus!!  The monster is ACTUALLY IN THE SCENE with his victims!

This however gives Wayne some evidence, since he closed the locks, and the creature moved elsewhere.  But now that it has a taste for manflesh, it won't be going back to cod.  We get to pay another visit to angry cop though, so that's all good!

But the cops are actually on board, and Wayne gets Team Slithis ready to try and capture the creature by directing where it goes, and some strong nets.  Oh thank the maker, this is almost over.

They do that, the creature comes ashore, and promptly goes after John and Miss Jeff.  They dive into his car for safety, and Slithis does not like trying to open the packaging on his food, and starts bashing on the car like a bonus level from Street Fighter

Doctor John and Lady Jeff try to escape, but Doc loses control of his car in his panic, and goes off the pier into the water.

 T-Bird zigged when he should've zagged.

T-Bird zigged when he should've zagged.

But they still have a Fishman problem to deal with, but the fisherman Wayne's been working with knows his shit, and is a hell of a fisherman, and thinks he can lure the Slithis to them.

The Slithis gets lured in by the chum, but sees a whole floating smorgasbord sitting there, so climbs aboard the boat and starts picking off the crew.

Wayne and the cap'n hear the commotion, come on deck and see the Slithis munching down.  Wayne shoots at the creature few times in the fishsticks, but that just makes him angry.

 CAP: It's time for raspberries!  PBBBTBTBBTBTBBBT

CAP: It's time for raspberries!  PBBBTBTBBTBTBBBT

The captain and Wayne smack, and fight, and shoot, and hack at the creature, with little to no effect on him,  Eventually, the cap'n does manage to bury his axe in the creature's back, and it's short arms and muscly swimmer shoulders keep it from reaching the intrusion.

Wayne grabs the ship's anchor, and buries it in the creature's chest, so I guess you wouldn't like him when he's anchory....

They think the creature is dead, the cap'n says lets throw it back to sea, but Wayne knows they need to take it in as proof of everything they've seen, proof that he was right.

Cap'n Chris actually talks Wayne into it though, and they kick the monster overboard.  But like Namor and the sea, once you get him wet he is rejuvenated, and the Slithis reaches out of the water, grabs Wayne, and we fade to credits.

 Revenge of the Slith!

Revenge of the Slith!

AUTOPSY REPORT

Video: Not great, it's dull, it's bland, it's very 70s, and there wasn't a lot of work done to clean it up that I can see.  But everything is pretty visible at least.

Audio: Perfectly serviceable.

Sound Bite: "I don't know how you're gonna convince anyone there's a slime creature eating the people of Venice!"  I dunno, I've been to Venice Beach, and I could see it.

Body Count: Pretty decent for a monster movie from the 70s.

1 - 9 minutes in and Jack gets walloped by the Slithis
2 - Helen gets it next.
3 - Another random person dies off camera.  I don't think we even meet her, we just hear her scream and the news says she dead.
4 - Doug gets yanked and mauled by Slithis
5 - Girlfriend follows suit
6 - Sailor Nicholas on the boat dies.
7 - Then Sailor Mike dies.
8 - Wayne probably dies as the credits don't roll.

Best Corpse: The random guy Doug from the turtle races.  It's not worth getting to it, but he gets nicely chomped on for awhile, and the out of nowhere sudden nature is great.

Blood Type - D: It's not too bloody, but it has some here and there, and the creature actually doesn't look half bad.

Drink Up! Whenever you hear the word Slithis.

Video Nasties: Y'all gotta check out the overacting cop.

Movie Review: There's some good ideas here.  It's very much of its time, with the environmental angle, and the pacing, and the cheesiness.  But the ideas are solid.  I love the backstory for Slithis, and this could easily be remade today with very little difficulty.  The biggest problem is the pacing.  Large chunks of movie where nothing is going on?  Nope.  Good ideas, executed poorly.  Two out of five buckets of chum.

Entertainment Value: Setting aside the angry cop for the moment, and if you can get through the long slow bits, there's much fun to be had here.  I really like the monster, when he bothers to show up the kills are generally okay, and the investigation is well paced and flows smoothly.  The movie is just so filled with long boring scenes.  Fast forward is your friend, but otherwise three out of five dead puppies.