Slimed, the latest offering from distributor of true independent filmmaking Troma (streaming on their VHX powered channel Troma NOW), is a celebration of hope in heroism by way of blunt stupidity. Both main characters – an atheist park ranger and a doofy bible salesman – have a sloppy demeanor and a crooked haircut respectively, indicating visually from the get go the state of their minds. But this isn’t a comedy making fun of mental or physical disability (the park ranger’s assistant might have cerebral palsy), or even one that flat out states looks are what define us. No, Slimed is about something grander and more noble: the state of America. All great Troma films are about this very country in one way or another, but Slimed does so without much direct criticisms. Instead of labeling what’s wrong and why, the movie starts from the perspective that we already know this information, and spends its runtime expressing its frustrations in cathartic and cartoonish ways.
“…a godsend of 1990s-era Nicktoon subversiveness, but in live action form.”
The movie is a godsend of 1990s-era Nicktoon subversiveness, but in live action form. The dynamic between the park ranger and the bible salesman, our spunky but opposite leads, feels like it was inspired by Ren & Stimpy, specifically the episode where they visit an aging animator in prison. Sound effects such as whips and punches, or lip smacks and sticky sounds, provide the same type of punctuation to scenes limited by small cast and few settings. Anything and everything gety animated – heightened – to make up for any lapses in production value. One point of contention might be the puppetry used for animals and insects, whose strings are easily seen. So easily, that I’m convinced this was on purpose. Might this world be an illusion of sorts, constructed with scissors and fabric glue? If so, the characters are painfully oblivious to these details.
The villainous blob of slime, a cleaning product and food seasoning, runs amok across nature, and its henchmen / zombie like children guard its path of destruction. In Slimed’s most brilliant moments, we see two adults kicking and punching kids into exploding visceral carcasses, out of sheer fear that’s based in ignorance of what’s going on around them. Dummies are thrown and tossed, slammed and shot, all with perfect corresponding foley. I’m uncertain as to how the characters perceive the fabrications of their world, but clarity does come from watching them utterly destroy hordes of smiling little ones. There’s beauty to be had in these low budget images.
“There’s beauty to be had in these low budget images.”
Slimed covers much ground, from religious anxiety to government distrust and even corporate greed. Covers, but not necessarily explores or expands. Not that it’s important for this movie to make a stand or educate its audience, but the lip service it gives these themes only pays off in the startling conclusion, which had me laughing from shock. Slimed is at its best when it just scratches the surface of its “message” and lets the events unravel and wash over us all. By circumstance and scenario, by interaction and behavior, it is about where America is at and has been. We’re not very bright, and may ultimately be doomed, but we try. That counts for something, I think.
Slimed (2010, 2017 VOD) Written and Directed by Eric Manche & Jeff Nitzberg / Starring Jordan Lee, Dustin Triplett, Jessica Borusky
3 out of 5