55 years ago today…
the Grade-Z horror movie opened starring Robert Hutton, Les Tremayne, Judee Morton, and in her first feature role Drive-In Dream Girl Susan Hart who talked about making the movie.
When asked how she landed this role, Hart answered facetiously, “Just luck I guess.” Robert Hutton, who also produced and directed , went to Hart’s agent and several other agents and asked if they had anybody on their rosters suitable for the role of Gwen. “All Bill Schuyler told me about it was that it was a reading for lead in a motion picture,” revealed Hart. “At that point I still did not know the title of the film. But I did know it was going to star Robert Hutton, whom I remember my sister Helen thought was just a fabulously handsome man. I read for the role in the morning. I went to lunch with a friend and when I arrived home around four o’clock I got a call from my agent telling me that I got the part. Not only did I get a role but also my roommate, Judee Morton, was cast as my little sister. It was incredible! Even after I found out the title I thought this was still a pretty good opportunity.”
was shot at KTLA Studios. After about nine days of filming, the cast stopped getting paid and the make-up man left. However, Hart proved to be a trouper and continued with the production. She even did her own make-up. Despite these misfortunes, Susan does not look back on this film with any bad memories. “Everybody connected to this was really nice. Don Hansen was the name of the man who financed the film. As I recall, he always wore a Fedora and owned a lot of dry cleaners. Robert Hutton knew I didn’t have any experience doing films and he couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. He practically told me every move to make and taught me about hitting your mark.”
In , nuclear testing decimates Los Angeles leaving the city enshrouded in a blanket of fog. A small group of survivors try to make it out of the deserted metropolis while battling subterranean creatures roused from hibernation. Robert Hutton stars playing a hot shot pilot with Robert Burton as a professor and Hart and Morton as his daughters. One of the films many unintentional laughs is that despite the fact that she is being terrorized and chased by the Slime People, Hart’s character Gwen keeps on her four-inch high heel shoes and never lets go of her oversize black pocketbook. “Isn’t that funny? I think I still have that purse around my home somewhere. We were given something like eighteen dollars to pick out our own wardrobe. Judee and I went to Orbach’s and it was my decision to buy those shoes and purse. Those shoes killed my feet, which were never the same again.
“A man Tracey Putnam played the doctor in this,” continued Hart. “He was an actual doctor and had discovered a drug which keeps Epileptics from going into seizures. His stepson, Jock Putnam, played one of the Slime People and talked his stepfather into playing one of these roles. It was a riot to see Jock and the other actor who played the Slime People sitting on the set smoking a cigarette. You’d see smoke pouring out of all of the orifices of these gigantic costumes.”
The ad copy for proclaimed, “Up from the Bowels of the Earth Come …The Slime People.” Needless to say, the film did not receive rave reviews. It is no wonder then Hart tried to distance herself from the as much as she could. “Now talking about The Slime People is fun,” admitted Hart. “But a few years after making it I kept thinking that The Slime People was a terrible movie to be associated with. It wasn’t very good and didn’t play in many theaters. The reviews weren’t very good if it even got reviewed at all.” To keep journalists from asking about the film, when Hart landed one of the lead roles in her fourth movie, Ride the Wild Surf (1964), it was touted as a first starring role.
Hart would then go on to land a contract with AIP and then a husband, one of the studio’s founders Jack H. Nicholson. Her subsequent work included the features Pajama Party; War-Gods of the Deep; Dr. Goldfoot and the ; and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini before she retired to raise her son.
Read more about Susan Hart in my book Drive-In Dream Girls.