Slime (US: Leisure Books, 1988)
Tagline: "Something began to seep from the poisoned
First off, feast your eyes on that cover which is laughably
pathetic. It looks like they copped this kid off a children's
mystery novel and added some green goo to spell out Slime.
Leisure Books was one of the few American publishers that
put out nasties with any regularity but their cover art was
notoriously bad. Only Zebra's was worse. William Essex was
a pseudonym of John Tigges, a prolific midlist horror writer that churned out a
steady stream of novels for Leisure back in the '80's. Under the Essex pen name he
put out a handful of nasties. Slime is one of them. But, as they say, you can't judge
a book by its cover so let's try and be fair and pretend the cover was much better
and handled by a capable artist. I've been a long time lover of crawling blob books
and movies and have seen/read just about all of them because, really, what's more
fun or disgusting than a creeping fungus or a slithering jelly?
Slime opens with a bunch of rednecks who work for a chemical company dumping
toxic waste into a hole out in a farmer's pasture. Flash forward five years. The toxic
waste has mutated animal matter into the titular slime menace which goes around
eating things. Anything it can get its green tendrils on. And as it eats, of course, its
mass expands. Since the book is set in farming country, food abounds. The green
slime devours pigs and chickens, herds of cows and goats, cleans out a dog kennel
and, of course, munches on a lot of stupid Farmer Brown types all of whom seem to
feel the need to dip their fingers into the green goo wherever they find it. Which isn't
a good idea, as you might have guessed, because the green goo dissolves flesh on
contact and it only takes one drop to start the process. Nasty. One would need to be
quite wary of such an organism, wouldn't one? Certainly. Thankfully, Essex
disagrees with us. His characters are uniformly bovine and completely lacking in
even the most rudimentary common sense. They are little better than livestock
themselves and generally not much smarter.
And they die in numbers which is the high point of this book:
"The foamy jell quickly invaded her mouth, and Mary's gurgles turned into gasps
as her tongue and throat were devoured."
Poor Mary. But she won't be the only one. Which two lovers discover as they have a
little fun on a hillside and the slime decides to join in:
"Her flesh was being eaten away, and when she looked down she found her
breasts covered with the green stuff. Her legs, covered with it, were rapidly
disappearing. Rick fell forward to lie next to Carole, who writhed on the ground. Her
small breasts quickly diminished in size as they were consumed, and the green scum
ate its way into her chest. When the lungs and heart were attacked what was left of
Carole lay still, unmoving until the last bit was gone.
The slurping sounds continued for several minutes..."
You get the gist. Like any nasty worth its salt, the people parading around in this
book are only there to be eaten. Nothing wrong with that sort of thing. Unfortunately,
the characters are strictly B-movie stock types with all the depth of a mud puddle.
The cops are uniformly dumb and clueless, and like any B-movie only the hero and
his girlfriend see the true danger but no one will believe them, of course, since
they're too busy dipping their fingers into the green patches of slime they find. What
the hell is this stuff? Might as well touch it. As a good example of how illogical our
characters behave we have a trucker passing through town. He's sees the slime all
over the road so, of course, he stops to look at it. He can't figure out what it is so he
dips his finger into it and then decides he might as well taste it so he touches it to
his tongue. And really, isn't that what you'd do?
Pros: Although I've been poking fun at this book, it is no worse then most
bottom-of-the-barrel nasties. It's readable and moves quickly. There are some
passable gore parts.
Cons: Well, let's face it: this isn't a great book. The characters are very
one-dimensional and behave irrationally more often than not. Essex writes firmly in
the Richard Laymon school of brevity and because of which, he never really
manages to get any good atmosphere going. I'm pretty sure Tigges knocked this out
for a quick check.
Overall: I offer this one mainly for completists like myself who feel the need to read
every oozing blob book available. Other than a few decent scenes of people being
dissolved by the slime, there's not much to recommend this one.
I give it two bloody skulls out of five.
For our next Guilty Pleasure, we go way out:
"A far from human birth..."