Thursday, October 11, 2007

Revenge of the "Slith"

I'm sucker for a gimmick. Even if I'm not interested the product, I'm always intrigued by merchandise that's "new and improved," has a unique mail-in promotion, or comes with some little toy surprise.

I'm especially intrigued by the PR stunts and gimmicks used to promote horror movies. The king of these stunts was William Castle. He was responsible for gimmicks like fake skeletons flying over move goers heads, and buzzing the theater seats during the film.

One of the coolest sounding gimmicks ever was for the film The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies. It was shown in glorious "Hallucinogenic Hypnovision." Now prove me wrong, but it sounds so much more fun to see a movie in Hallucinogenic Hypnovision than George Lucas's THX cinema audio system.

Unfortunately I wasn't born in time to experience these wonders.

The last original horror movie gimmick I can think of came from the obscure low-budget 1978 monster movie Slithis (alternate title: Spawn of the Slithis).

As part of a PR tour the Slithis monster made personal appearances at local theaters.

Here's a UPI photo dated 5/5/78 that shows Slithis at the University of Nebraska. The students in this pic don't seem very impressed.

Besides the personal appearances, Slithis's big gimmick was an advertised "Survival Kit" handed out ticket buyers.

This was a "kit" in the very, very loosest of terms. In actuality it was a 4 inch folded card (on rather dainty pink card stock no less). When opened, on the left was an important Slithis survival warning, and then on the right was Slithis fan club info.
To complete my little Slithis Survival Kit presentation, here's a scan of both front and back.
Now if you're very clever you can print out your own survival kits. Just be sure to use pink card stock. I'm not responsible for your Slithis survival safety if you choose a different color.

If I've whetted your appetite for all things Slithis, check this guys site for an extremely long review of the film. Also here's the Slithis TV spot... Slithis... Slithis ... Slithis...


Jay Amabile said...

This is an amazing post. I've never heard of this film before. I just discovered your blog and you definitely have alot of interesting, original posts!

Jay Amabile said...

Come to think of it, I worked at a movie theater for 5 years when I was younger and when Scream 2 came out I ran through the theater chasing an usher with a fake knife in full Scream costume. People were literally shocked because we slammed the door open just as I chased him through. We did this at the beginning of the film where the Scream 2 logo showed up which was pretty appropriate if you've seen the opening scene. Anyway, they don't promote movies like they did back with the Slithie guy.

David W. said...

Thanks for the nice words Jay!

I liked your Scream 2 story. You must have had a wacky theater manager. Good for him to add a little more showmanship to the movie going experience.

hackeditor said...

We saw Slithis in the theater when we were kids. I don't remember the survival guide, but there was an ad that they handed out, promoting the Slithis Fan Club. We all sent away to join, I think it cost a quarter. We never got anything in back. As for the movie, I don't remeber much, except that we seemed to like it.

hackeditor said...

What a genius I am. I looked closer at the survival kit, and it's the entry form for the fan club. oh well...

A R said...

I love Slithis!!! And you have so much stuff on this page, pictures I've never seen!! If you get the chance please check out my little site to Save The Slithis: ... thanks!

MangMade said...

I still have my Slithis Survival Kit somewhere, all dog-earred and nothing like the pristine scan you have here. I was gonna write a little bit about it, but anything I'd contribute would pale in comparason. Kind of like preparing for Show and Tell and teacher calls you up first.

My most vivid memory about it anyway is my cousin Johnny retelling it the next day with far, far more exciting detail than what we had see on the drive-in screen.


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