09 April 2006

MIA On DVD: "Slithis", Tommy Smothers...

The Cinematical Seven have posted a fun article on a rare handful of significant (well, that's a matter of opinion...) 80s horror films that have somehow evaded DVD release--which is amazing when you consider that a mere six+ years into the format the studios are already double-and-triple dipping on catalogue titles until the Blu-Ray/HD Wars have been waged, and won. Among the titles: some truly essential stuff like Stuart Gordon's gonzo Lovecraft pastiche "From Beyond" and Lewis Teague's "Alligator" (written by John Sayles and featuring a great performance by Robert Forster), as well as amusing programmers like "Student Bodies" and Paramount's SNL/SCTV vet-heavy B-pic/clip show "It Came From Hollywood" (I remember John Candy clad in angora in an ode to "Glen Or Glenda") and Greydon Clark's "Predator"-lite opus "Without Warning". Topping the list is Fred Dekker's delightful space-slugs-n-zombies howl "Night Of The Creeps"--"Slither"s poppa, basically--and his charming followup "The Monster Squad", still one of the best kidflicks ever, IMHO.

To this list I would add Stephen Traxler's 1978 shocker-wannabe "Slithis", aka "Spawn Of The Slithis" (which I saw as a youngster on a double bill with, I think, "The Clones Of Bruce Lee), and Alfred Sole's slasher spoof (yes, another one, but one of the first!) "Pandemonium", aka "Thursday The 12th". "Slithis" was your basic Pollution Is Eeeevil allegory in which radioactive sludge (actually, an “infinitesimal” amount according to the onscreen science dude) dumped into the ocean gives birth to a hulking rubber doofus that terrorizes Venice Beach, CA. "Pandemonium", from the director of "Alice, Sweet Alice" and "Tanya's Island", was a Canadian tax shelter product that featured bit roles for Judge Reinhold and Phil Hartman and a major turn for Tommy Smothers, who portrayed a dedicated RCMP officer investigating a series of coed murders at It Had To Be University (admit it, that's funny), along with partners Paul Reubens and Bob, his horse.

While no classic, it was certainly better than National Lampoon's "Class Reunion", which come to think of it, probably deserves to be on the list, too, if for no other reason than it offers a rare lead role for one Blackie Dammit (as the killer), who in real life is the father of "Red Hot Chili Peppers" frontman Anthony Kiedias (as well as the president of his fan club).