I bet it's fair to say that when Shock-O-Rama released SLIME CITY on Special Edition DVD in February 2006, not many would've expected that they'd be issuing an even better version three years later ...

But here it is again, the late-80s gore classic, backed with three other films from director Greg Lamberson and loads of insightful extras.

The first film in this 2-disc set, and the main draw, is of course 1988's SLIME CITY. Below, I've taken the liberty of pasting my original appraisal of the film (with minor adjustments) - lifted from my review of 2006's Special Edition DVD release:

Alex (Robert Sabin,) finds what he thinks is the perfect apartment in down-town New York, and moves in hoping that his girlfriend Lori (the gorgeous Mary Huner) will soon join him.

However, wholesome Lori is dragging her heels ... not only is she reluctant to commit to living with Alex, we discover via a conversation with his best buddy Jerry (T.J. Merrick) that their year-long relationship has yet to be consummated. Alex's frustrations are hardly helped by the fact that a sexy Goth slut lives across the hallway from him, the seductive Nicole (also played by Huner).

At first, Alex is capable of resisting the flirtatious Nicole. Until, that is, weird neighbour Roman (Dennis Embry) invites him to his place for tea. Roman serves up a strange green yoghurt and Alex, being a polite and unassuming young man, eats the odd concoction with little question.

Before long, Alex has bedded Nicole and discovered that somewhere along the way he has become possessed by an occultist named Zachary (Daniel Frye) who lived, practised and died in the same building many years earlier. Zachary's greatest legacy is his addictive wines and yoghurts, kept in the building's basement. And now, along with the other tenants, Alex is hooked. Which is all good and well ... only, Alex becomes prone to sweating copious amounts of thick oozing slime whenever he craves his elixir!

And when Alex oozes, he finds that killing is the only thing that makes him normal again. Can Lori redeem his soul?

SLIME CITY makes no sense whatsoever. Obviously. But it hardly matters. This is good old-fashioned gore-soaked fun that zips along at top speed, reeks of sleaze in the best possible way and ends with a delightfully deranged climax that won't soon be forgotten.

Cheap in look and feel, the movie benefits from some BAD TASTE-style gore FX, the likes of which we just don't see nowadays. But here it all is - stumps spurting geysers of gore, disembowelments, heads being explicitly caved in with iron bars ... aah, the 1980's!

The script is daft, the acting is lousy and the camera work is pretty ugly. Who cares? Director Gregory Lamberson keeps things brisk and short at 80 minutes in length, with the movie coasting from one hilariously tasteless set-piece to the next.

Best of all, the film holds up well and if anything has grown more endearing with age.

Shock-O-Rama's presentation of SLIME CITY is mastered from the original film elements in what purports to be a director-approved 23 frames-per-second HD transfer. It certainly looks a LOT better than it has before, but still looks a little rough and grainy considering it only dates back to the late 80's. This is no doubt due to the film's 16mm origins. Images are generally sharp though, and considerably lighter than in the past. Colours are strong throughout, appearing much bolder than I recall them being on the previous release. The 1.78:1 frame (the preferred ratio by the director) has been 16x9 enhanced.

The mono audio track is problem-free.

All in all, the film looks and sounds better than ever before and is presented uncut.

Extras relating to SLIME CITY include an audio commentary track from Lamberson and Sabin, recorded in 2002. This is filled with as much mirth as it is technical info. Lamberson covers almost every aspect of micro-budget filmmaking, while Sabin has plenty to say about the gruelling FX shoots. There's lots of laughter and agreeable banter throughout, but never at the expense of getting little titbits of priceless trivia across.

"Making Slime" is a 7-minute featurette narrated by Lamberson containing some intriguing behind-the-scenes footage and stills. Most interestingly, there are some brief clips from some early Lamberson shorts included.

Also on disc 1, we get Lamberson's 1991 film UNDYING LOVE (a.k.a. NEW YORK VAMPIRE).

The film begins with Scott (Tommy Sweeney) climbing into his bathtub and slashing his wrists with a razor blade. He lies back in the water and closes his eyes calmly as blood fills the tub.

But it transpires that Scott's suicide attempt was unsuccessful. We subsequently observe him killing a couple of drug dealers in the back of a nightclub and stealing their stash, before calling round to his friend Curtis' (Terry Spivey) house party.

It's here that the extremely aggressive Scott, now known infamously as "the boy who tried to kill himself", meets the sultry Carmilla (Julie Lynch). He's immediately smitten by her smouldering looks and the attraction appears to be mutual. Just don't tell his girlfriend, Leslie (Mary Huner)!

But Carmilla is not all she seems, and Scott soon finds himself well and truly seduced by the model - who promises him eternal life if he continues to feed his newfound lust for human blood.

But can Scott's conscience cope with the killing required to feed his urges? Or will the cops, who are hunting the perpetrators of the drug dealers' vampiric slaying, find him first?

Look out for Sabin who turns up briefly as a sleazy photographer.

Influenced by Romero's MARTIN, UNDYING LOVE is well-shot and nicely acted. It's less of a gore fest than SLIME CITY but still offers plenty of exploitative content for fans to lap up (sex; minor bloodletting; some choice B-movie dialogue).

What's more impressive though is the serious tone of the film, complemented intelligently by the late John Rosnell's mordant cinematography. New York looks dead itself, and the visual squalor adds a dimension of pathos to the tale of Scott's descent into addiction and paranoia.

Also benefiting from a decent score, UNDYING LOVE is no classic but certainly worth a look. It's perhaps more akin to ADDICTED TO MURDER than it is to MARTIN, but it's still certainly not deserving of the woeful 1.5 rating it currently enjoys on The Internet Movie Database (time of writing: July 2009).

The anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer is grainy and dark, although it somehow fits the seedy ambience of the film. Colours hold up well and detail isn't compromised too much, but those with an aversion to natural 16mm grain have been forewarned.

The film is graced with a commentary track from Lamberson and Sweeney. They reveal that they originally recorded a track for the film back in 2002, but decided to re-record it for this belated DVD premiere (also, Sweeney confesses that there were some rather "naughty" comments made on the original track ...).

A more serious and straightforward track than that offered on SLIME CITY, Lamberson offers an enormous wealth of information here - talking us through cast members, locations, film stock, music used in the film, schedules and much more. Lamberson also reveals that this $35,000 film is his personal favourite. It's a fascinating listen.

"Making Love the Grindhouse Way" is a 9-minute documentary which for the most part sees Lamberson sat at what looks to be a convention table, surrounded by merchandise for his own films. He speaks about all of his films, but mainly UNDYING LOVE. There are also brief cuts to a separate interview with Sweeney in this letterboxed proposition.


A basic animated main menu suits SLIME CITY's grindhouse feel perfectly. Although there are no scene-selection menus for either film on disc 1, each one has it's own chapters: SLIME (16 chapters); UNDYING (15 chapters).

Over on disc 2, we get 1999's NAKED FEAR and the new short JOHNNY GRUESOME (based on filmmaker-turned-author Lamberson's own novel of the same name).

NAKED FEAR is a curious little potboiler, again starring Sabin and Sweeney.

Camden (Sabin) is a young agoraphobic haunted by the senseless killing of his parents. When he witnesses a bungled robbery in his own apartment, he mistakenly assumes one of the robbers is a heroic vigilante and takes the man in as his new lodger: the claustrophobic Randy (Sweeney).

It's only when the neighbours start getting bumped off and Camden's hooker girlfriend Julie (Peggy Crow) grows suspicious, that Camden must face the fact that Randy is a serial killer ...

But Camden isn't that wet behind the ears either, and what follows is a rather knowingly ridiculous low-rent variation on FREDDY VS JASON (although Lamberson prefers to compare it to the Universal monster flicks of the 30s!).

Violence, gore, nudity ... NAKED FEAR at least remembers to tick all the boxes.

NAKED FEAR is shot on video and inevitably winds up looking cheap as a result. Having said that, it's neatly framed and lit better than you'd expect. Effects are ropy when applied, but you've got to hand it to Lamberson for attempting such an ambitious set-up during a period that was extremely unkind to no-budget independent horror filmmakers.

Performances are reasonable throughout and, while the tone of the film shifts uneasily at times, the pace never flags. The cheap score tends to grate, though.

The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame ratio and looks about as decent as you could expect an SOV effort from a few years back to look (not great, a little faded - but smooth enough to sit through).

English mono audio is decent throughout, with no discernible hiss or dropouts to grumble about.

A commentary track to FEAR, provided by Lamberson, Sweeney and Sabin, is carried over from the previous Shock-O-Rama DVD. It's a fluent track that, once again, finds the likeable Lamberson on excellent form. He offers an incredible amount of facts, to an extent that they greatly enhance the viewer's appreciation of the completed film.

Then we get JOHNNY GRUESOME, Lamberson's latest effort. As mentioned above, this is based on his own novel of the same title and is an 8-minute effort from 2007 starring Erin Brown (a.k.a. Misty Mundae).

Brown is Karen, girlfriend to rocker Johnny (Ryan O'Connell). One night Johnny picks Karen and her coke fiend friend up in his car. The friend winds up killing Johnny, and getting off with Karen during her ensuing grieving period.

But Johnny rests uneasily and soon rises from his grave, proceeding to their apartment to claim revenge upon the hard-shagging, coke-snorting couple.

Presented in a soft 16x9 1.78:1 transfer, JOHNNY GRUESOME is by far the least interesting film on offer here. Which is a worry, as it's the most recent example of Lamberson's abilities.

It's a real shame that this is cack, as Brown looks as lovely and animated as ever - but the film, framed badly and poorly lit, is devoid of artistic merit that would make it worthy of recommendation. Even the three metal tracks provided by the band Johnny Gruesome are amusingly bad, while the shifts between colour and black-and-white seem contrived.

Still, we get a poorly edited 7-minute featurette to support this short film - which includes more interview footage with Lamberson. Don't get me wrong: I thought GRUESOME was bad, but once you hear Lamberson, you truly can't knock him ... the guy is 100% sincere about his love for making horror films by whatever means. He's an admirable soul.

The final extra on disc 2 is "Slime Heads: Interview with Robert Sabin & Mary Huner". This is just great. Presented in anamorphic 1.78:1, the two speak to the screen candidly about their memories of making the film. It's an often light-hearted chat, albeit filled with surprising and welcome details. Huner looks great, whereas Sabin has aged quite some (well, 21 years have passed ...).

It's fantastic stuff, and fans of SLIME CITY will no doubt be enormously excited by it's inclusion here. I was.

Disc 2 employs a different albeit similarly themed animated main menu, offering a colourful and humorous interpretation of what a cinema storefront would look like if showing a double-bill of these titles. Again, there are no scene-selection menus - but chapters are available for each film as follows: FEAR (16 chapters); GRUESOME (2 chapters).

The packaging for this new Special edition deserves a mention too. Not only do we get a fold-out poster of Stephen Romano's lovely new DVD cover artwork (a comic book-style animation that offers a montage of scenes from all 4 films, hidden beneath the slipcase cover shown above), but a 4-page colour booklet containing liner notes from Roy Frumkes - along with a new footnote advising of Lamberson's forthcoming belated sequel to SLIME CITY, tentatively titled SLIME CITY MASSACRE.

If you enjoy no-budget indie horror filmmaking at it's most "street" level, with grime so vivid you can almost feel it polluting your skin, then Lamberson's films are definitely worth checking out. With wonderful commentary tracks and uncut presentations of all four of his works to date, this is the ultimate Lamberson love-in.

A must for fans, and a generous introduction for the curious sleazehound.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Shock-O-Rama Cinema
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review