Four years ago, smack dab in the middle of this critic's proposed career choice as a wannabe film writer extraordinaire, he had the (unfortunate) task of taking on Greg Lamberson's much ballyhooed blood feast Slime City. Paired with the appalling Naked Fear, this Troma-like take on gore, bile, and anything pustule and putrid made for a nice retro reminder of the glory days of a Saturday night sleepover with your bong-endowed buddies. As we stated back then, Slime stands as an F/X laden boil bursting with all manner of inner ickiness. It swims in glop and wades in gunk. The final fight scene between our heroine and the bad guy is a gut stabbing, snot spewing, head splitting and brain broaching near masterwork. It does single handedly save the film. But when paired with three other lamentable Lamberson efforts (including Fear) as part of the oddly named Slime City Grindhouse Collection, it's hard to find a reason to recommend the overall experience. One marginal movie does not a sound cinematic investment make.
Undying Love: Down and depressed, Scott tries to kill himself. Luckily, his longtime gal pal Leslie catches him in the act. Now he's the talk of his high school. At a party, he earns the attention of supposed supermodel Camilla. They soon begin a torrid affair, even if the fetching fashion plate is a little too hung up on death and dying. Turns out, she's a vampire, and makes Scott into a member of the undead as well. With a detective hot on his trail and a lead neckbiter who's angry over Camilla's actions, our hero must decide what to do - embrace his newfound need for blood, or simply give himself up.
Johnny Gruesome: Big man on small campus Johnny Grissom is a regular rock and roll GOD!. This means he gets murdered by a nameless coke head for no good reason. Vowing to and eventually coming back from the grave, he seeks vengeance on all who wronged him, from drug dealers to snow-snorting ex-girlfriends.
As for Undying Love - that's another can of rotting Anne Rice worms. If Twilight is the ultimate fantasy for tween girls, high school fat chicks, and unloved spinsters, then this tale of vampire passion is the skuzzy guy geek response. In hapless hero Scott, Lamberson finds the perfect passive aggressive douche to go all neckbiter on, and when he finally does turn Nosferatu, it's genuinely laughable. While his turncoat temptress Camilla can't seem to maintain a straight face throughout her scenes, at least she's not as horribly hamfisted as the meat puppet playing undead leader Evan. Indeed, Julie Lynch is not bad to look at, even filtered through an unfashionable Jersey girl clothing conceit. As for the rest of the cast, Lamberson stays simple - or perhaps that should be simpleton. Everyone else responds to Scott's increasingly gloomy personality by using the old "attempted suicide" excuse (we indeed see our lead going a little straight edged surgery to his wrists early on). With its cheap look and even cheaper feel, Undying Love (also known as New York Vampire) can't help but appear worthless. At least it's better than the aforementioned Stephanie Meyer mess.
As box sets go, the Slime City Grindhouse Collection becomes a test of tolerances. Two of the three films featured are just horrible, lacking even the most basic entertainment value, and the main movie itself is an exercise in era-appropriate nostalgia. If you saw it in a lousy VHS version back when it first hit the Mom and Pop video store, you probably will get a kick out of revisiting it several years removed from the past. Without said wistful quality, however, the title can be a bit tedious. With Johnny Gruesome giving us the eight minutes only bum's rush, this looks like an attempt by an off brand distributor to bag some additional coin out of a seemingly unnecessary double dip. Lamberson certainly deserves some kind of recognition for doing what a lot of '80s auteurs did - that is, using the available technology and trade set-up to make their own damn movie. So what if Slime City is only serviceable, and Undying Love and Naked Fear are weird wastes of time. He's managed to do more than many members of the current messageboard nation, implied pundits who, like those who can't do, prefer to preach instead of produce.
Indeed, everything that was available on the Slime City double feature has been ported over for this release. The added material - the "Slime Heads" Q&A with Sabin and Huner seems new - is just peachy. All alternate narrative tracks give good information and a self-effacing evaluation of each film. A mini poster and some liner notes round out the packaging.