Zeegrade Reviews

Zeegrade Reviews
Movies for scumbags.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spawn of the Slithis (1978)


     "Yawn of the Audience" would have been a more honest title.  Motherfucker, does this thing revel in minutiae!  Filmed in Venice, California on a $100,000 budget blah,blah,blah ... you know the rest.  Too bad you'll be in stage 4 delta sleep long before this plodding film reaches it completion.  
     Two boys — one so fat that I believe his veins were filled with maple syrup — are playing Frisbee (in slow-motion) when the non-future heart failure victim discovers a mutilated dog corpse on the side of a canal.
  This seems to be happening frequently in the neighborhood as we are transported to the apartment of a young couple:

"It says here that the Raiders just signed Michael Vick."

The Bert Convy stunt double is Wayne Connors and his wife ... Jeff?  Yeah, I had to look that one up.  I could have sworn it was Jan but no, it's Jeff.  Wayne teaches journalism at the local high school.  At least that's what I'm told considering he seems to have way too much free time to investigate the recent spate of mangled canines.  Because this is a movie and the police are total dumbasses it is publicly speculated that the persons responsible for this are members of a cult committing some sort of ritual.  This has to be the most irresponsible jump to conclusion based on zero evidence ever!  Well, at least by a non-politician.  Later that evening a couple is awoken to an invader trashing their house.  Thinking it's the dog, the husband goes to investigate the noises when he's attacked by a large creature.  Even after shooting it twice the monster dispatches them easily:

Ruled a suicide.

     The next day Wayne is bitching about his incompetent students when one said student who is a "news junkie" brings to his attention a radio report about the couple that was murdered.  Turns out it was near the same canal that the mangled dog carcasses have been found.  Wayne finds the series of events interesting and decides to do his own investigation.  Boy, does this movie love investigating!  First off is examining the above crime scene possibly tainting evidence.  Wayne kneels down to inspect a clump of mud when a police officer arrives.  He somehow avoids arrest by proving that he teaches journalism at the local high school.  Okay...  Wayne asks the officer (who has a cold) if there was anything odd about the mud.  He tells him there wasn't and to stay away from this crime scene because it's "off limits".  Then why the fuck was the front door open and no police tape around the building.  On top of that, when he informs Wayne that is "off limits" he turns the fuck around AND LEAVES HIM THERE allowing him to collect a large sample of the mud.
     It's good to have friends and Wayne has 'em!  He takes the sample to Dr. John who will always be referred to as Dr. John reminding you that he's a doctor and you live on your parents couch watching cable and eating Doritos.  Dr. John is intrigued with the sample and goes into a bunch of gobbledygook along with such burning insight as "it's organic, no doubt about that", except that it's not organic as well.  He tells Wayne that he'll run some tests and get back to him with the results in a couple of days.  Can't wait...John.  Yeah, that's right.  Fuck your stupid doctorate!
     Did I say a couple of days?  I must have been confused because Dr. John has got the results!  I'm just on the edge of my recliner begging to go deeper into this mud mystery!  Dr. John meets Wayne and Jeff (Ugh, that name!) at their apartment and tells them what he found.  The mud Wayne collected is slightly radioactive in a way similar to a case that occurred twenty years ago at a nuclear reactor facility in Wisconsin.  There was a small radioactive leak at this plant that was absorbed by the silt in a local lagoon and developed into a form of protoplasm that could mimic characteristics of the surrounding organisms.  This evolving, protoplasmic mud was discovered by two scientists that decide to dub it "slithis".  Why?  Because Wayne's fucking wife's name is Jeff, that's why!  Fuuuuuuuuck!  This whole incident was covered up so as not to expose a leak at the plant, however, one of the scientists involved with the slithis has been working for a local oil company.  Dr. Erin Burick (yes, that's the female version of Erin and yes, he's a man) now lives in Malibu and is continuing his research with slithis in hopes of creating a natural petroleum that can be created at will.  Goddamn you Big Oil!  Before Dr. John parts he asks Wayne to keep him informed if he decides to pursue this. 
     Back to the action!  U CAN'T HANDLE DA BUM LIFE!!!1!!

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Bunky, disgusted that his compatriot Preston defecated in his trousers, goes off in search of some more wine when he spots something splashing in the canal.  When he goes to offer the late night swimmer a sip of wine he comes face-to-face with this:

  "Actually, kind sir, I prefer a Bordeaux."

Bunky runs for his life.  Whatever that's worth.  The following morning it is broadcast on the news that a student was found mutilated that night.  So, you couldn't have killed one of the deadbeats?  Whatever.  The police, once again, make things worse by creating more hysteria when they broadcast a manhunt for cult members that practice human sacrifice.  Even the transients feel unsafe to harass the working class for change. 
     With the police busy spreading irresponsible speculations Wayne is able to immediately track down Preston who tells him about Bunky acting strangely since the murder.  Tedious filler aside, he finally tracks Bunky down and the wino confirms that he saw something but it might have been because he was under the influence.  Realizing Bunky won't cooperate with the police the next step is a clandestine meeting with the slithis scientist Dr. Burick.  He tells Wayne that there is a small nuclear energy plant near the marina not far from the canal.  He also confirms that the slithis mud can evolve into any life form it encounters.  Dr. Burick is also quite the looker:

His eHarmony account describes him as having "rugged features".

     Think were done investigating?  Fuck no!  Ya see, Wayne needs to charter a boat so he can collect mud samples near the plant.  He enlists the help of Christopher Columbus Alexander (not kiddding) to take him out a few yards from the plant and dive down below and get a sample.  The sample contains slithis mud but no radioactivity.  With the police not interested in Wayne's theory that there is a mutated beast stalking Venice — probably not sensational enough — he and Dr. John close off the water lock for the canal at low tide under the assumption that the creature would not be able to gain access to it and swim out to deeper waters.  It backfires when a horny couple is instead killed on a boat docked outside.  A real shame too because I became rather attached to them during the absurd amount of time dedicated to their date.

"Welcome aboard the S.S. Narcissist."

    Wayne arrives at the police station to talk with the Lieutenant in charge of the investigation.  He finds this man.  You just gotta watch it for yourself:

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That's actor Hy Pyke (Mayor Daley from Dolemite) trying his best to inject some life into this stodgy film.  He allows Wayne to confer with one of their "police scientists".  How much schooling do you need for that title?  That would be perfect for a cheesy 80's film, "He's a cutting edge scientist with a badge.  Watch out for Dr. Edge Hardhammer!"  Wayne theorizes to the scientist that the monster has expanded its hunting grounds to the canal because the food sources near the plant have already been consumed by it.  He also admits to closing the canal lock which forced the creature to kill the couple docked in the marina.  Sadly, the film doesn't end with his arrest.  
     Wayne concocts a plan with Jeff, Dr. John and Christopher to catch the monster.  The plan fails as the monster gets aboard Christopher's boat, killing two of his crewmen.  Wayne and Christopher barrage the creature with a mixture of shotgun bullets and whatever they can use as a melee weapon when it's finally done in by ... an anchor?

"This anchor is a real drag!"

With the beast seemingly dead Wayne tells Christopher that they should bring it to the police as proof that he was right.  Never mind that not only will it solve all the murders but also become one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time.  Christopher instead suggests that they kick it overboard.  Guess which line of thinking they go with?  A short time later the creature's hand emerges from the water and grabs Wayne by the ankle causing him to scream in horror.  Guess your journalism class is going to need something more permanent than a substitute. 
     Holy shit is this a trite little fucker!  In it's almost one-and-a-half hours of running time there might be about five minutes of action.  Instead a bulk of the movie hyperfocuses on bullshit nobody cares about.  Everything concerning Bunky and Wayne's search for him could have been completely excised without missing a beat.  And the couple's date?  You could have simply picked it up with some asshole trying to get laid on his boat, end of story.  But no, we have to follow them from the turtle races (seriously?) in the car, to the boat, meet the pervert neighbor, drink some wine, blah, blah, motherfucking blah.  There really isn't anything to recommend here but that didn't stop some asshole from sharpening up the film and putting it on DVD.  Might as well take your money and toss it in the canal with the dead dogs.  That way, Wayne can then go into a four hour documentary on how it got there.  Better call Dr. John! 

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