Soylent Green (1973)


The planet earth is a finite area, and the human race is pushing its luck, in a serious way. There is a limited amount of resources (as if everyone was getting the benefit of them when they were plentiful); but the dumb people keep squirting out dumber babies and no one is teaching anyone sex education, so the product is an overpopulated mess that is fast running out of space, supplies, and frankly, reasons why we are top of the food chain in the first place.

Now I’m not saying that we go all China, and put an embargo on baby making, but there’s plenty of kids out there needing a family, and plenty of self involved nimrods walking around dropping rugrats like their genes are the only legacy worth leaving the world. How about have one biologically and adopt one? Because then the whole ‘I don’t want the kid to be lonely’ argument is solved (even though the sprog having friends would solve that problem just fine), and you’re actually doing something worthwhile and a little selfless? I mean, let’s face it, any living organism can procreate, it’s hardly quantum mechanics – Melanie Griffith did it and that cat didn’t know about the holocaust until she was thirty frickin’ five (true story).

Luckily for us there’s always some continental pissing contest going on that causes the senseless deaths of thousands of innocents and not so innocents every year, so y’know, swings and roundabouts huh?

This seventies classic is about a world that is the equivalent of giant sardine tin that is a miserable place to be. Tenement style, slum housing, the likes of which were the homes of a good deal of immigrants and working classes at the turn of the last century, and the less upwardly mobile are living in stairwells and abandoned cars. People are desperate, poor and hungry and a company named Soylent controls the food supply for most of the world’s population. It’s newest product is said to be derived from plankton, and is named after a colour like the others: Soylent Green. Connect this to a murder, corruption, and a solution to the fact that there are too many damn bodies and not enough room for them to live, well you have got yourself a sci-fi horror that will blow your bloody doors off.

There are no heroes in this film, it’s violent and uncomfortable watching in places, and surprisingly gritty for the time. The world is a broken, dirty place, and the people in it are desperate and hardened. Men have ‘furniture’ in their home, which is the quaint little name for the live in prostitutes that conveniently come with the apartment (like an old cooker you cant be bothered to take with you), and pass from tenant to tenant, showing the sheer disregard for human (especially female) life. Even the small details of this skewed fictional future have you questioning the values of your own society, while simultaneously creeping the living fajita out of you.

Now that is a movie!

Soylent Green is as relevant and chilling today if it ever was, if not more. Poverty, rioting, government corruption, sex trafficking, domestic violence, the ethics of euthanasia and corporate murder are all things that you can read about in any newspaper around the world at this moment. Charlton Heston is thrilling as the hardened, NYPD cop, dragged into to the web of conspiracy, and the classical score is both haunting and beautiful, with the sheer hopelessness of the plot. Whether you are a sci-fi nut, or a horror hound, this will be one of the best films that you will ever see.

It’s worth knowing that three days after this film was completed, the actor Edward G. Robinson died from cancer, making the stand out scene with his character Sol, all the more poignant.

Everyone should see this film, for even though it was filmed over forty years ago, this seems like the real Inconvenient Truth to me.

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This entry was posted in 70s horror, critique, feminist horror, fiction, film and media, horror, murder, psychological horror, Seventies horror, Twist ending, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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