Horror-Wood Blog-a-Thon: Slither (2006)
James Gunn seems to be making a name for himself. This summer, he gave us Guardians of the Galaxy which I still feel is by far the best movie of the year so far for its well-developed characters and science fiction fun. However, this would not be the first time he would helm a project like this with such tongue-in-cheek fashion. In the beginning there was Slither. A very unique horror comedy that felt like a throwback to the campy B-movies of the 1980s while also being an homage to the 1950 science fiction classics like The Blob.
Right from the opening, you can tell what kind of movie you are in for as two local cops chat about birds and yet they fail to notice a meteorite crash right behind them. The meteorite is actually carrying an alien parasite that infects everyday simpleton Grant Grant who starts having strange cravings for meat and developing strange boils on his body. Micheal Rooker is a delight to watch seeing he plays two characters in one. A man with a trouble marriage while also being controlled by the parasite’s mind. What I find interesting is how creepy yet humorous of Grant’s awkward behavior. When he speaks like a normal human, it almost sounds strange just by how he cooks up an excuse that is harebrained like saying his odd welts came from a bee sting.
Its not long till police chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) starts to catch up on strange things happening in the town like the disappearance of various pets and a missing girl. Nathan’s character can be best described as a very relaxed personality that knows trouble when he can sense despite how sickening it can get. He’s the average hero that knows what is going on (somewhat) but yet everyone has a hard time believing him. In a way, its a nice twist to see a member of the police is not believed as opposed to a teenager getting the shaft which is a good chance of pace.
Sure enough, they find Grant is behind the strange events and worse of all is mutating into a bizarre monster with tentacles that feels like a cross between the Blairmonster from John Carpenter’s The Thing and the hideous Pretorius creature in From Beyond. Its a horrific design that is grotesque yet humorous seeing how one small infection can turn a man into a gelatinous blob with mounds of tentacles. He is however not the only victim as Brenda, a childhood crush of Grant’s, gets used to birth tons of baby alien slugs in one of the film’s most memorable and disgusting scenes. Its gross but hilarious seeing a woman blown up to the size of a beach whale and complain about giving birth to tons of alien slugs that instead tear her to shreds.
The rest of the movie becomes a mix between a George A. Romero and John Carpenter picture as the whole town gets possessed by the slugs and share a psychic link with the hive leader Grant who grows to be more revolting than before. I like the idea of an entire town possessed by alien slugs giving a unique zombie feel to it. And having the folks share the same thoughts as Grant gives the feel of people being turned into nothing mindless drones collecting goods for the hive.
The biggest highlights of Slither include the humor and the special effects. As said, the whole movie has a tongue-in-cheek feel that foreshadows later events and feels self-aware but not the point it takes us out of the movie. Its subtle and knows when to swing between delivering scares and being comedic. I especially enjoyed Gregg Henry’s character of the Mayor who doesn’t hide his crude personality and flips out when the slugs attack to the point that he knows it hits the fan when no one packs his favorite soda. On a technical lever, Slither succeeds in blending CGI and practical effects very well. The animation on the slugs is so good that it almost feels like watching stop-motion when we see them slide about the walls or sneaking around houses for a new victim. There’s times when the CGI is a bit too obvious for things like the final form of Grant’s hideous transformation but you can’t help but admire the design and craft.
Thought I shouldn’t say Slither is for everyone. There are times when it might get a tad intense with moments of dead animal bodies and a sequence when a whole family including two kids become victim to the brainwashing slugs. I do feel the less gore, the more effective it will be. But I can’t say its gets too much to the point where it gets distracting but sensitive viewers might want to watch with caution. Its a shame this didn’t do well at the box office as its producer cited that it was “the first comedy-horror in a long time, and maybe the marketplace just isn’t ready for comedy-horror yet.” True, but I would go as far to say it came on the wave of many zombie movies that would either redefine the genre or just fall into the crowd of corpses. Slither is unique seeing how it takes the absurd concept and does a humorous take to it. And for a budget of only $15 million, you will be surprised to see how well you get your money’s worth here. Overall, a solid recommendation for James’ first outing.
Posted on October 25, 2014, in Horror-Wood 2014 and tagged 2006, alien slugs, B-Movie, Blog-a-thon, campy, Gregg Henry, Guardians of the Galaxy, Horror-Wood Blog-a-Thon, James Gunn, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Night of the Creeps, Slither, zombies. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.