I couldn’t let October go by and let Zombie Island Massacre be the final film from the Troma stable featured in this year’s Horrorshow. Their catalogue, both the films they produce and the ones they distribute, are hit or miss for fans of b-movies. Zombie Island Massacre is well-liked enough that Joe Bob Briggs hosted it on his show way back in the 1990s, but I didn’t see the appeal. Consider this a makeup post.
Slime City Massacre, from 2010, is a project from low-budget auteur Gregory Lamberson, and is a sequel to his debut feature from 1988, Slime City.
An introduction, and a couple of flashbacks here and there, take place in 1959. There, a cult leader named Zachary (Craig Sabin) has gathered a flock. In anticipation of the end of the world or something, Zachary uses black magic to transfer the souls of he and his believers into jars of fluorescent goo. He also whips up a batch of cursed hooch that, when combined with eating the slime, will transfer the stored souls into the poor victim who imbibed.
Cut to the present, and Zachary’s towering headquarters (played by the derelict Buffalo Central Tower), is the epicenter of an explosion that wipes out Lower Manhattan (accurate geography be damned).
Cut again to seven years later, and the country has become a dystopian hellhole in the aftermath of the explosion. That doesn’t stop Cory and Alexa (Kealan Patrick Burke and Jennifer Bihl), from heading into the ruins and taking up residence in Zachary’s derelict tower. The big explosion at the start melted everyone nearby, including Lloyd Kaufman in a cameo, but it left the buildings standing. Whatever. The movie needed to take place somewhere.
Cory and Alexa meet another couple hiding out in the tower, Alice and Mason (Debbie Rochon and Lee Perkins), and a partnership of convenience is struck up. The tower has been picked through by refugees over the years since the disaster, but Mason knows of a locked door no one has been able to penetrate. Lucky for them Cory came across a key ring for the building!
The group finds Zachary and company’s stash of hooch and slime, and being thirsty and hungry refugees themselves, they dig in. The stuff turns them into sex-crazed, slimy, murderous psychopaths who terrorize the building, but afterwards awaken with no memory of what occurred. They can’t stop eating and drinking, though, as they have become addicts. The combination of hooch and slime causes the shakes and, in one glorious bit of icky gore, massive physical deformities. Meanwhile, a real estate mogul looking to rebuild the area has hired some mercenary cosplayers to go in and clear the tower. It’s up to the four to save the day from the mercs, and themselves from Zachary’s black magic.
Not a bad plot, right? Within the constraints of a b-movie budget, a filmmaker with a deft hand could make something nicely gross from that plot, and Lamberson did just that. The gross-outs aren’t the dominant aspects of the film, though. This is a tongue-in-cheek movie firmly in the Troma style. None of it is meant to be taken seriously. It’s almost impossible to have a serious tone when one lets Lloyd Kaufman ham it up in a scene.
As for the cast, Burke and Rochon were the standouts. Burke because his skill overmatched just about anyone he shared a scene with, and Rochon because she went all out for this film. I wouldn’t refer to Rochon’s work as fearless, mostly because that’s a term overused to the point of sickening obsequiousness, but she spent a lot of this movie in a tub of slime. That counts for something. Viewers will notice that a lot of the scenes have a first take feel, though.
This is the kind of movie that’s a love letter to shitty cinema. It looks as if Lamberson put out the call to everyone in Buffalo that lives life on the outside of pop culture and used them as extras in the movie. The tone of the film is purposefully antithetical to viewers who approach film with a grave sense of art. This is a film to laugh at and laugh with, not because it’s chock full of jokes written by Ivy League grads, but because it’s a dirty thumb in the eye.
There’s not much in the way of technical excellence or believability in Slime City Massacre. The good news is, there wasn’t supposed to be any. There is a fine line in movies like this. On one side are films that are intentionally bad, like the large creature flicks shown on SyFy. On the other are films that are also not objectively good, but have genuine life to them, rather than being b-movie by rote. Slime City Massacre is one of the latter. It just misses out on making it into the top half of the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index, displacing Attack of the Crab Monsters at #271.