Some directors use KY Jelly, others employ hair gel, or in one memorable instance, gallons of shaving cream. The techniques used to create them vary, but cinema history is full of gloopy, ickily-runny special effects that will either have you laughing incredulously or feeling thoroughly queasy.
Here’s a list of ten films that feature some memorably gelatinous moments…
If you want a film filled with goo, look no further than The Blob. Steve McQueen starred in the 1958 original, which saw a gigantic globule of alien strawberry compote terrorise a small town in America. Schlocky B-movie fun, fans of gore will find even more to enjoy in the 1988 remake, which retains the same basic plot while upping the body horror aspects considerably.
Drawing inspiration from Rob Bottin’s effects in The Thing six years earlier, the 80s iteration of the Blob gained the ability to mutate and absorb human bodies, and in one stand-out scene, pulls a luckless man down the plughole of a kitchen sink, before barfing him back up onto the ceiling in a fountain of pink ooze.
True fans of goo movies will know there was a Blob film that came out between the first one and its remake. Alternately known as Son Of Blob or Beware! The Blob depending on where you live, it was directed by none other than Larry Hagman, who was most famous for his performance as J R Ewing in Dallas.
Hagman’s only big-screen directing credit, Son Of Blob was so shockingly amateurish, it made the low-budget original look like Avatar. Let’s hope they throw a bit more cash at the latest remake, which is reportedly in production (Rob Zombie was attached, but dropped out last year). Otherwise, we may end up with another film like this…
This 1987 low-budget horror went out of its way to be as gratuitous, crass and downright offensive as possible, and the result is a weird, surreal and guiltily amusing late-night horror. An unscrupulous liquor store owner starts selling bottles of Tenafly Viper, an alcoholic moonshine that cause anyone who drinks them to dissolve in a disgusting puddle of multi-coloured yuckiness.
I was introduced to Street Trash’s dubious charms by Michael Weldon’s superb Psychotronic Film Guide, which specialised in Z-grade classics such as this. As the author put it, Street Trash seemed to be made specifically to shock and appal, which screenwriter Roy Frumkes later confirmed when he later said in an interview, “I wrote it to democratically offend every group on the planet.”
Not a film for everyone’s tastes, Street Trash will delight fans of extreme comedy horror, and watched together with Peter Jackson’s Braindead, would make a great late-night double bill of ooze.
One of the very best sci-fi horror films ever made, John Carpenter’s 1982 rendering of 50s classic The Thing From Another World cleaves far more closely to John W Campbell’s original short story. And far from the intellectual carrot played by James Arness in 1951, the protean monster effects wizard Rob Bottin came up with was truly the stuff of nightmares.
Capable of assuming the likeness of any creature it came into contact with, the creeping alien is unwittingly welcomed into the warmth of an Antarctic research station, and soon begins absorbing its inhabitants one by one.
The transformations the creature undergoes when it’s cornered are truly horrific, and pushed the boundaries of gore in a mainstream studio picture at the time. The scene in which a corpse’s gnashing ribcage chomps off Richard Dysart’s arms is the one that is most often discussed, but my favourite moment, for sheer gruesome detail alone, is the one where Doctor Blair (Wilford Brimley) attempts to dissect a disgusting lump of extra-terrestrial limbs and flesh, only to discover yet more appendages and bones within. Bottin’s effects work on this Matryoshka doll-like creature is quite remarkable, and the entire film is a showcase for his extraordinary skill.
“Are you eating it, or is it eating you” was the tagline for this extremely odd and fun 1985 horror from writer and director Larry Cohen. The Stuff of the title is a white, yogurt-like substance that is discovered deep underground, and soon marketed as a non-fattening alternative to ice cream.
An immediate sensation, most of North America becomes addicted to the Stuff, until observant youth Scott notices that the substance has the unfortunate side effect of turning those addicted to it into brainless zombies.
A satire on marketing and corporate greed, The Stuff features a great, tongue-in-cheek performance from Michael Moriarty as an industrial saboteur with all the best lines (“No one is as dumb as I appear to be” he drawls in his introductory scene), and there are some great low-budget effects courtesy of Ed French.
A mix of The Blob, Night Of The Living Dead and quirky comedy, The Stuff is an underrated, endearingly daft horror film. Nowhere else will you see a man devoured by a dozen gallons of sentient shaving cream.
The Incredible Melting Man
There’s a hint of Peter Jackson’s warped humour in this short, low-budget B-picture from 1977. As the title implies, the film’s 84 minutes are devoted to the gradual decline of astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar), who returns from a mission to Saturn with a serious skin problem (it tends to fall off) and an insatiable appetite for human flesh.
Most memorable for Rick Baker’s messy and often funny make-up effects, which include ears left clinging stickily to tree branches and extremities plopping to the floor, The Incredible Melting Man doesn’t even attempt to justify what happens with anything as complicated as a plot. As a result, it plays like a camp reiteration of The Quatermass Xperiment.
Originally intended as a horror comedy, Melting Man’s gorier aspects were played up during filming. A certain awkward humour still remains in its script, though. When dissolving menace Steve heads off out into the wild, a doctor responds to the crisis by asking his wife, “Did you get some crackers? I told you yesterday we needed some crackers.”
Interestingly, Melting Man contains a brief appearance from Jonathan Demme, who was still in the exploitation period of his career, having directed things like Crazy Mama and sleazy women-in-prison flick, Caged Heat.
Five years after they saved New York from the shape-shifting god Gozer, the Ghostbusters team are forced to reunite when a river of slime is discovered beneath First Avenue. The moment where Ray Stantz is lowered down into the Manhattan sewage system on a wire plays out like a family-friendly retread of the scene in Alien where Kane finds the egg silo, with the thousands of menacing ova replaced by gallons of pink ectoplasm.
One of the most goo-filled films in history – and the only PG-rated film featuring goo in this list, interestingly – the river of slime is later shown to be capable of attacking people and kidnapping babies, and derives, we learn, from the negative emotions felt by New York’s inhabitants.
David Cronenberg devoted much of his early career to directing films full of dribble and viscous gore, but his 1986 retelling of a James Clavell short story was his career’s zenith of goo.
Having accidentally fused his DNA with that of a housefly while testing out his matter transporter, scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is physically galvanised by the experience, before his body gives into a hideous series of mutations.
As the fly inside takes over, Brundle’s extremities begin to drop off (which, analytical to the last, the scientist keeps in jars) and he acquires a particularly unsavoury method of devouring donuts. Fortunately, ex-girlfriend Veronica (Geena Davis) is waiting in the wings with a can of Raid and a shotgun.
In lesser hands, The Fly would amount to little more than rubbery schlock, but Cronenberg was and is a true craftsman of the gruesome, depicting every lost tooth and fingernail with an unwavering, gag-inducing eye for detail.
Prince Of Darkness
The malevolent goo of The Blob was a mere pussycat compared to the evil presented in John Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness. Trapped in an ancient cylinder, a vortex of green liquid is discovered to be the viscous remains of the Devil himself.
Sentient and capable of taking control of people’s bodies, the pea-green liquid gradually turns a group of investigating academics against each other, and ultimately takes control of a student, who becomes a walking embodiment of Satan.
An amalgam of science fiction and horror, Prince Of Darkness was less satisfying (and more campily acted, I’d argue) than The Thing. But the film nevertheless contained some strikingly surreal moments, and some imaginative special effects, including a puddle of green liquid on a ceiling, and a memorably grim moment when possessed student Kelly (Susan Blanchard) ejects a gout of Satanic ooze from her mouth. Nice.
One of the most absurdly over-the-top, messy horror films ever made, Braindead saw Peter Jackson’s appetite for gore at its zenith, with the director moving into more respectable, mainstream territory in his subsequent films. Jackson concluded his splatter career in style with Braindead, with a Sumatran rat-monkey unleashing a plague of gooey, wobbly zombies.
The infamous dinner scene, in which a wounded arm oozes goo, and an old woman eats her own ear after it drops in her pudding, is one of the most stomach-churningly icky scenes in 90s horror.
A longstanding patron of horror, Brian Yuzna produced the classic Re-animator, among other things, before turning his hand to directing with Society. A superb satire on the divide between rich and poor in 80s California, Billy Warlock stars as the Beverly Hills rich kid who discovers that his entire neighbourhood of wealthy socialites aren’t what they seem.
Featuring some startling make-up effects courtesy of Screaming Mad George, Society’s rich folk are revealed to be an inhuman breed of morphing, oozing mutants that feed on the nutrients of the poor.
Concluding with a final effects-laden orgy of gelatinous, writhing monsters, Society somehow manages to be funny and nightmarish at the same time.
Yuzna has yet to better this debut effort, which satirises 80s greed in a similar manner to John Carpenter’s They Live, but with much, much more KY Jelly, and Society is quite possibly one of the greasiest, gooiest films ever made.
Follow Den Of Geek on Twitter right here.