Wayne Connors (Alan Blanchard) and his wife Jeff (Judy Motulsky) teach at the local high school in Venice Beach, California. Wayne is a former newspaper reporter who now teaches journalism. Wayne has been reading stories and hearing reports about mutilated dogs in the area. His nose for news begins to twitch. A couple living near the Venice canals have their house broken into, are killed and mutilated. Wayne decides to check it out. He finds some strange mud on the floor, near where the bodies had been found. He takes the substance to his scientist friend, Dr. John (Dennis Falt).
Dr. John determines the substance to be organic and inorganic and slightly radioactive. He tells Wayne and Jeff about a similar find in Wisconsin twenty years ago. A leak from a power plant caused some contamination in a local lagoon. It affected the silt at the bottom of the lagoon, altered its structure and mutated it into something different. The scientists that discovered this organic mud named it Slithis. The report the scientists wrote was buried. One of the scientists that discovered Slithis, Dr. Erin Burick (J. C. Claire), now works for a nearby power plant and has continued his experiments.
In the meantime, more murders and mutilations are happening. The police believe it is a satanic cult but Wayne thinks something stranger is happening. A wino that Wayne tracked down said he saw a lizard-like monster come out of the canal. When Wayne contacts Dr. Burick he confirms the fact that slithis may be in the area but proof is needed. Wayne hires Chris Alexander (Mello Alexandria), a scuba diver, to gather some water and soil samples from the area around the power plant. Dr. John analyzes them and confirms that, at one time, a radiation leak happened in the past near the plant and there is slithis in the area. It’s now a logical leap that the slithis has evolved into a creature stalking the Venice canals. Since the police won’t believe anything Wayne says, it is up to him; Jeff, Dr. John and Chris to find the creature and either capture it or kill it.
“Spawn of Slithis” was released in 1978 and was written and directed by Stephen Traxler. It is a science fiction horror movie. The film originally got an 'R' rating from the MPAA. Some of the murderings were cut to get it a ‘PG’ rating. Afterwards, the cut footage was put back in by the filmmakers since the MPAA didn’t follow up once the rating was assigned.
There’s a good amount of padding in the film. There is also a fair amount of dreck involved. The performances are bad, to so-so, to over the top. The best and most memorable is the police chief, played by the ever insane Hy Pyke. The movie, like the slithis creature itself, is an amalgam. It is part “Jaws” 1975, part “Creature from the Black Lagoon” 1954 and part “Humanoids from the Deep” 1996. The best part of the movie is the end, and I don’t mean because it’s over. It really does have a good ending.
It’s a very talky movie with not so great directing or cinematography. It could have used less talk and more monster. Despite the bad parts there is something infectious about the film. I actually enjoyed it.
The creature was played by Win Condict. To make the creature more believable he was sewn into his costume every day so that no zippers or snaps would be seen. It looks a little like a cross between a ninja turtle and the creature from the black lagoon.