Top 10 Movies Featuring Slime – Part 2
In Part 1 we broke down numbers 10 through 6. Let’s continue…
#5. The Abyss
Global ranking: 659
Wins 48% of its matchups
19,559 users have ranked it 176,016 times
21 have it at #1
584 users have it in their top 20
The Abyss is a remarkable movie in a number of ways, not the least of which is that it introduced us all to the concept of “liquid ventilation.” Despite the ubiquity of the cliche, I am not at all comfortable when truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case the true part of the story is slime.
OK, a very thin, watery slime, but I still insist that it qualifies. The story is that the Navy has finally perfected the delivery mechanism for an oxygenated fluorocarbon emulsion which, when breathed into normal mammalian lungs, allows for greater tolerances of deep sea pressures. This is a real technology, just no one’s been crazy enough to put it into (unclassified) practice.
The scenes where the liquid breathing fluid is used are famously unnerving, and deservedly so. They serve to jolt us up out of the banal industrial atmosphere of deep sea science into a much weirder space somewhere between our world and the science fictional one, which is right where James Cameron wants us to be.
Global ranking: 618
Wins 47% of its matchups
15,209 users have ranked it 135,773 times
12 have it at #1
331 have it in their top 20
People forget that Tobe Hooper was dousing people with ectoplasm years before anyone did it to a Ghostbuster.
When JoBeth Williams guides little Heather O’Rourke through her second birth into this world, they both come out slathered in a dark pink slime which can’t be bothered to strive for any kind of magic or mystical qualities. It’s just gross, chunky, and biological, like so many substances in nature. The fact that it is so un-magical, and the fact that nobody calls it ectoplasm (or anything else!), allows it to serve as a grounding, sobering note in an otherwise wild and fantastical story.
So we have here the unusual case of a slime being the least weird thing in the scene. Its purpose is to demonstrate that the other side has a “substance” all of its own; it’s not just halos and ether. And it is this additional level of reality that provides the Other Side with an additional level of threat.
#3. Jurassic Park
Global ranking: 77
Wins 62% of its matchups
87,968 users have ranked it 851,370 times
1,087 have it at #1
16,128 have it in their top 20
No, I’m not going to talk about the brachiosaurus sneezing scene. The viscous liquid there is clearly just mucous.
Instead, I’m going to talk about poor Dennis Nedry, the traitorous, body-shamed system administrator who is the third to die but the first to demonstrate the true threat of Hammond’s mad dream. The challenge of paleohistory is not just one of size and speed, but of complexity.
This is one of Malcolm’s more subtle, and thus annoying, points (it’s made slightly more clear in the book), which is that unintended consequences are a norm in this universe. The Jurassic Park scientists proceeded from the assumption that the paleontological record provided perfect-enough information to be able to build their little zoo, but a chaotical view of the situation would tell you that “perfect-enough” is never perfect enough.
Nedry’s encounter with the dilophosaurus provides us with the first example of just how complicated this problem is. We thought that “the problem” (singular) with dinosaurs is that they chase you down and eat you. But nobody, not even the fossil record, said anything about slime.
With the T-Rex attack, we felt primal fear, but when that spitter let loose, we felt primal confusion, which is vastly more unpleasant. Suddenly, the threat is without a mental pigeonhole.
#2. The Matrix
Global ranking: 41
Wins 70% of its matchups
87,090 users have ranked it 915,338 times
1,566 have it at #1
20,190 users have it in their top 20
This may be the best use of slime in this list. The slime in The Matrix is masterfully utilized and world-builded. It inspires horror simultaneous with wonder, and its backstory manages to avoid most of the more tiresome tropes while still retaining a symbolic/allegorical resonance.
The first time that we see the slime is from inside it. We were teased with wet metaphors leading up to this moment, first the rain on the overpass, then the juicy extraction of the bug, then the glass of water to chase the red pill, then the liquefying mirror. And then we find ourselves naked and submerged in a vat of pink goo.
This beautiful slime and our pale, willowy body, in their “mamallianness” stand in horrific contrast to the industrial-entomological tech that penetrates our flesh. The slime makes it hard to grip the ribbed cables; the metal edges slide easily against our fingers and cuts our uncalloused virgin skin. We worry about electrocution. We worry about the inversion of our hetero-male identity.
The slime is able to “stand for” so much about Neo in that moment, while still being gross. Super gross.
Global ranking: 33
Wins 64% of its matchups
82,168 users have ranked it 778,539 times
917 have it at #1
15,034 have it in their top 20
At the top of the stack, we have the movie that “made” slime. By the time Bill Murray finished wiping his fingers on the property of the New York Public Library, slime had been permanently embedded in the Western consciousness. Ectoplasm’s mythological ties to its Spiritualist past are still somewhat intact, but now it’s been given a new fun-loving, Double-Dare-flavored emotional makeover.
Remember how much fun it was to make a mess when you were a kid? That feeling is now wedded to the ooky-spooky kick-assedness of monster hunters of old, updated to embrace the latest in Eighties wise-cracking and gerund apostrophizin’ technology.
The reason that “bustin'” made us feel so good is that we had finally found the proper balance between zeitgeisty comedic sensibilities and a legitimately innovative exploration of our continued fascination with eternity. And lubricating that cross-pollination was slime, glorious slime, quintessentially juvenile yet, if taken seriously in the film’s world, truly disturbing in its implications. Slime’s narrative power is that it can play either side of that divide, just like ectoplasm seems to exist both in our world and the next.
Special Mention: The Man with Two Brains
Global ranking: 2923
Wins 47% of its matchups
1125 users have ranked it 13549 times
0 have it at #1
8 have it in their top 20
Despite its relatively low ranking in the Globals, this film deserves special recognition for being the only example (that I can find) of slime being discussed as slime. Steve Martin’s character doesn’t bother to parse the substance’s scientific antecedents, but prefers to embrace the stuff for what it is: a joyous, moist celebration of our collective fascination with disgust, and our perpetual, omnidirectional disgusting fascinations. It is exactly how I feel.