Monday, June 13, 2022


Finally got a copy of the (in no way a rip-off of Alien but on the cheap) 1981 film Scared To Death which is pretty exciting seeing as up till now I've only ever seen the sequel Syngenor (1990).

Yes my life is that interesting.


Anyway I thought this'd be a great opportunity to revisit my Syngenor review and do a frankly fantastic double bill type thing that would no doubt bring in more readers.

So imagine my surprise when I realised I'd never actually reviewed Syngenor and couldn't find it in the cupboard to rewatch it.

So I decided to rewatch this instead.

Swings and roundabouts really.

The Spawn of The Slithis (1978).
Dir: Stephen Traxler
Cast: Alan Blanchard, Dennis Lee Fault, Judy Motulsky, J.C. Claire, Steven J. Hoag, John Hatfield, Rocky Fumarelli, Mello Alexandria, Dennis Falt, Hy Pyke, Wendy Rastattar and Win Condict.

“Why is it called Slithis?”  “For the same reason your parents named you ‘Jeff’.”

Our story begins with a sub-Jaws style score and a shaky pan across what looks like one of the rougher areas of Dudley (that's in the West Midlands in Englandshire for any Americans/thick people reading) settling - luckily before any of us vomit from the drunken camerawork - on a couple of kids playing frisbee.

In slow motion for some reason.

Thinking about it it's probably as one of them is morbidly obese so it's a good excuse to focus on his wobbling mantits as he runs about which, if I'm honest is about as exciting/erotic as this movie gets.

Anyway, after a particularly long toss from the fat lad his small ginger pal comes across a pair of mutilated dogs lying by the canal.

As the pair disinterestedly ride away in search of cakes the local radio news announces that there has been a spate of dog attacks around town and as if to prove this to the audience we abruptly cut to evening time where a yappy mutt is busy barking at a camera with a plastic cup sellotaped to the lens in order to give us an 'otherworldly' point of view of the proceedings that just makes it obvious that we're looking thru' a kids tumbler.

At least the thought was there.

If not the budget.

Or the imagination to come up with anything better.

Oh well.

His owners are woken by the noise and head downstairs to investigate only to be cruelly dispatched by the unseen intruder.

By dispatched I mean killed obviously, not packaged up and posted.

Pink ball straight in the pocket.

The police are convinced that the spate of bad murders are the work of a Manson style cult but rugged high school journalism teacher and ex-reporter for the Baldpate Advertiser Wayne Connors (Blanchard who left acting to sell insurance in the Merrimack Valley area of northeastern Massachusetts fact fans) has other ideas.

Mainly about acceptable fashion choices for heterosexual men by the look of his outfits but each to their own.

Anyway Wayne decides that if he alone cracks the case and writes the story (as well as writing and singing the theme tune obviously) it'll safe him from a turgid life teaching scantily clad cheerleader types how to spell, so much to the chagrin of his wife, Jeff (The Big Bus and Idaho Transfer star Motulsky, who was also once married to top Star Trek villain Charlie X himself Robert Walker Jr.), he heads off to the home of the two most recent recent victims for a wee nosy around.

Breaking into the house and having a quick rummage thru' the drawers it's not long before he's accosted by a sneezing policeman whom he placates by giving a cough sweet before leaving with a handful of dried shite he scraped off the carpet which he excitedly takes to be analyzed by the school biology teacher, Doctor John Leslie (Claire in his only film role) before returning home for an evening of snacks, soda and scrabble with his missis.

"Is it in yet?"

Their romantic night is interrupted tho' when an overenthusiastic Dr. John turns up at the door eager to share the results of his tests.

And by that I mean the ones he did on the shit not that he's about to announce that he has Hep B.

Tho' he does have a yellowish pallor to him, which in fairness may just be the lighting.

Anyway John grabs a beer and begins his big scene, explaining that the scraping is a wee bit radioactive and is a - little - piece of organic and inorganic stuff that he's never before encountered.

Tho' the fact that he looks like he's even never encountered a real woman before let alone anything remotely scientific dents the authenticity of the claim somewhat.

All this talk of radiation and shite tho' does remind him of something he read in GetWell! Magazine once when he was in the dentist waiting room.

Get Well Magazine: Get in the fucking sea you uneducated showers of shites - Reversing Autism? I would trust the writer to reverse a fucking go-kart. Wankers. And breathe.

You see nearly twenty years ago, the very first nuclear power plant opened for business in Wisconsin, everything was hunky dory till one afternoon a tipsy cleaning lady accidentally lent on an important lever causing a radiation leak to mutate the mud at the bottom of a nearby lake and made it sentient.

Aye, sounds legit.

This was discovered after a wee boy became ill with sickness and diarrhea after inadvertently drinking some of the water and his mum took him to the doctor for treatment for his explosive poo - or 'shitils' as the boy called them.

Hence the scientists named the organism Slithis as shitils sounded silly and not at all realistic.

True story bro.

But John is quick to point out that mutant mud doesn't have legs or eats folk so this version of the Slithis would have to absorbed a person or something.


And with that he bids his farewell and we cut to a pair of homeless men drinking cheap wine and gazing at each other far too intently whilst sitting next to a boat.

Actually it could be behind the scenes footage of the director and writer, who knows?

Anyway as the pair sit, sup and talk bollocks - in order to boost the running time - some spooky music kicks in and we're back with the plastic tumbler as someone - or something, OK we know it's something - watches them from afar in a totally non-pervy manner.

Well I assume it's non-pervy tho' I may be mistaken.

I mean imagine a movie where a mutated pile of shite furtively masturbates over tramps before eating a dog or two.

The fucker would be box office gold.

So the beardy tramp named Bunky and played to piss soaked perfection by John Hatfield who I assume isn't the American professional baseball player from the 1860s and 1870s - decides that after all this imbibing that he really needs a piss so off he trots to find a bin to go behind but just as he's about to unleash his engorged, pock-marked member the Slithis jumps out from the shadows and scares him so he runs away.

His friend and ex Ordinary Boys frontman Preston (Fumarelli, kissy lips and stinky trainers) meanwhile has fallen asleep so sees or hears nothing.

Fuck me that was exciting.

Rolf Harris is taking the divorce well.

Whilst attacks on dogs and fat folk seems to be the norm it appears that attacking the transient community is a step too far as we're now treated to exciting footage of various law enforcement types looking in bins and pushing tramps as the desperately try to find the person responsible for the killings cum piss spying.

Unfortunately everyone they meet is dressed as tho' they were auditioning for an off-Broadway stage musical version of Midnight Cowboy so the film takes an unexpected turn into camp territory as we're subjected to more and more shots of stubbly topless men in a variety of ever shorter - and tighter - cut off denims.

Even Wayne gets in on the act when he heads downtown to pump a few of them for information, decked as he is in a navel revealing cheesecloth shirt and a jaunty panama hat.

Heading over to the boatyard our hero indulges in a vaguely homoerotic chat with Preston - all long lingering looks and lip-licking as they discuss homeless drinking habits and how best to keep warm at night - regarding the whereabouts of Jethro before heading into town to offer cash to a variety of semi-dressed young men lounging on statues with their legs spread and finally turning up at a rundown motel where Bunky is slouched in a chair looking for all the world like an abused beanbag cosplaying Tom Savini.

Which is nice.

"My film."

Offering him a cash incentive to talk Wayne finds out that Bunky did in fact see the beast whilst trying to have a wee but due to outstanding fines for public urination can't go to the police but does give Wayne a pretty good description of the creature.

And a wee hug before he leaves.


After a tearful wank, a Pot Noodle and a shower Wayne and Dr. John decide to visit the scientist behind the original Slithis outbreak, the caramel faced human testicle Dr. Erin Burick (voice actor Falt who's done everything from Silent Hill to Castlevania) to see if their idea that the Slithis can now walk about and eat stuff is true.

He reckons so and suggests that they collect some mud samples from the river where the creature originated not only to be 100% certain but to also add a Jaws dimension to the film seeing as that was quite popular and anything that will help this monstrosity to be seen must be a good thing.

S obviously they're gonna need a (bigger) boat.

Enter (roughly from behind whilst indulging in a frantic reacharound) Captain Chris Alexander (Alexandria famous for Psychic Killer and playing a naked dancing hologram in THX 1138) who offers not only the use of a boat and crew but throws in some vaguely stereotypical 'jive-talkin' black dude' dialogue for good measure.

He must be related to the cleaner cum housemaid Elsie in Mausoleum, yo dig?

"So how much for a wee mooth shite-in boys?"

Heading out to sea - OK heading onto the lake, albeit a fairly big one but still - aboard the good ship Creation, they 'anchor' the boat just offshore enough to not need filming permits and Chris scuba dives down in order to get the samples.

Obviously we have to take his word for this seeing as the film's budget wont stretch to any underwater scenes so to make up for this Wayne sits on the boat looking into the water for what seems like days whilst every so often Chris pops up and hands him a jar.


Anyway all this bobbing up and down is tiring work so the boys all head home and after a sweet late night phone chat 'tween Wayne and Dr. John regarding the lack of consistency  between the samples (?) our hero decides it's time to shower Jeff with some of the attention he's been paying to the local tramps.

Unfortunately it goes all soft focus before the good bits.

But Wayne isn't the only person feeling a wee bit amorous this eve as we're suddenly in the towns most happening bar where the swarthy sex obsessed Doug (ex catalogue model and documentary producer Hoag) is busying himself betting on a turtle race - no really - whilst keeping a lookout for any under-aged talent that may wander by.

And he doesn't have to wait too long as the bubble gum popping, cousin visiting  Jennifer (David Cassidy - Man Undercover co-star Rastattar) soon catches his slightly less milky eye.

Checking if she's 'old enough'? ("Does it matter?" is her reply - zoiks!) Doug takes her up the marina where he's parked his boat a seductively tells her to go onboard and pour a drink whilst he has a piss.

The smooth talking devil.

Cue what seems like hours of lecherous small talk and illegal lolita lust as Dug plys Jennifer with more and more cheap wine before inviting her to his bedroom for a nude massage.

Luckily the Slithis turns up and kills Doug before he can get naked but just to make things even more uncomfortable than they already are we're treated to a 5 minute scene of the Slithis tossing Jennifer around the boat in slow motion - with the cameraman making the effort to show her pants as often as possible - before the beasts clumsily tears her blouse (which is a shame as it was smashing) for a much needed breast shot* and then biting her to death.

Just in case you thought I was taking the piss.....

The thing that haunts you about this (totally unnecessary) scene tho' isn't the dubious sexual politics or latent misogyny or even the fact that Doug has a framed photo of himself - surrounded by candles - on his bedside table.

Nope, it's the fact that during the monster molestation bit the photograph is replaced by a shoddy drawing.

No, really....just look:

Sexy portrait.

Shit sketch.

And they thought we'd be too busy looking at some poor actresses breasts to notice?

Well they obviously didn't count on someone with Autism powered super pedantry watching it did they?

With the blatant sexism out of the way it's back to the main plot and Wayne and Dr. John have gone to the police station to explain who all the bad murders have actually been committed by a human sized bit of radioactive sea shite.

And it's during this scene that we find the movie's one saving grace.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you - no fucking take him, please - Hy Pyke as police lieutenant Jack Dunn:

"Is it Giro day?"

In a - slightly shy of - 4 minute performance that bares absolutely fuck all relation to the plot, Pyke delivers one of the greatest - and most terrifying performances ever committed to celluloid, coming across like the bastard child of Joe Spinell and a Fraggle he eye rolls and screams thru' a page and a half of nonsensical dialogue with all the warm, humour and charm of a man with his hemorrhoids trapped in an infants mouth.

They really should have just had him play the lead and have done with it.

Or at least feature him getting his shirt ripped off in slow motion by the beast.

Suffice to say he's tells our dynamic duo to get to fuck leaving them no alternative but to deal with the creature themselves.

After much chat Wayne figures out that the Slithis must be using the water lock to enter the canal from wherever it is he spends his days so to this end decides to close it off leaving it no way to get into town.

And I thought the public transport here was shite.

Anyway as night falls head over to the locks only to find the gate padlocked but luckily Dr. John has the key as his best friend who works at the water authority is really forgetful and hands out keys to folk he trust so he wont lose them.

Shutting (locking?) the, um, lock the pair head over to Captain Chris' boat and armed with some handy sonar equipment from the high school lab set sail to find and kill the Slithis once and for all....

Shot in just twelve days over the long hot summer of  1977, Slithis is a no budget, lo-fi fleamarket 50s throwback that comes across as cheap and downtrodden as the hobos the beast feasts on, with precious screen time taken up with dozens of (non) actors stumbling thru' banal dialogue wearing a succession of more and more uncomfortable charity shop outfits rather than with gruesome killings and when the titular creature finally appears in all his rubber glory you'll be more concerned about how it can manage to walk with such oversized (albeit womanly) hips rather than elicit screams of terror.

But don't worry as there's some underage nudity and murder on a houseboat to keep the audience happy.

Said no director ever.

Talking of directors, the man behind this one, Stephen Traxler, is fairly interesting.

He first got the movie bug - as opposed to a tummy one - whilst serving in  Vietnam and upon his return home got straight to work on creating the greatest monster movie he could.

Unfortunately he was short of time - and money and nearly everything else - so made Spawn of the Slithis instead.

Not too surprisingly it was another 21 years till he directed again but scarily he didn't slack off in the meantime as he stuck by his dreams of film success, ending up becoming an industry renowned production supervisor with stuff like Waterworld, Gleaming The Cube and Windtalkers under his belt.

But not literally obviously.

Scarily he also co-produced Legally Blonde 2: The Crackdown.

Which let's be honest is more than I'll ever achieve sitting here typing shite that no-one reads so fair play to you Stephen, at least you're living the dream as opposed to wanking for coppers at the bus station like most of the cast ended up doing.

"Aya mah BCG!"

And it's this obvious love of cinema - but possibly loathing for the audience - that stops you turning the movie off and setting light to it as soon as a fat lad bouncing in a too tight T-shirt appears or when various local homeless guys are forced into ever more revealing Daisy Dukes.

Seriously it's actually fairly enjoyable despite itself.

Especially if you have a few bottles of wine handy.

And you haven't eaten.

Which is quite possibly the bizarrest recommendation I've ever given.

"You chase me now!"

True there's way too much exposition, many of the scenes drag on for what seems like an eternity and the editing/effects/acting can only be described kindly as utter bollocks but it's heart is in the right place.

It's just a pity it's brain isn't.    

*This is what we call sarcasm.

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