Directed by James Gunn
Distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment
"Where have they gone?" That's the question I always find myself asking when I get that familiar itch. Usually there is no relief. The only thing that can scratch it is a cool looking beastie causing mayhem in a nice little violent atmosphere. Sadly, nowadays monster movies are few and far between. Or maybe I should say good monster movies are. Wait, how about we go a little further and say good horror movies are getting harder and harder to find, period!?! If I have to sit through one more PG-13 neutered snooze-fest or another dreadful remake, I will scream until my lungs burst. Many fans echo my sentiments which is why I am all the more disturbed. I listen to folks complain endlessly: "No more remakes!" "Stop making our movies so kid-friendly!" Yadda yadda yadda. Yet, when a good R-rated original horror film hits theatres, everyone stays home. That's right! Movies like the abysmal When a Stranger Calls remake and the bloodless smarmy teen-fest Cry_Wolf make it to the top of the box office while quality films like James Gunn's Slither open so poorly that it's out of theatres within a couple of weeks. This will forever be one of life's little mysteries. Sad but true. However, there is some light at the end of this dismal tunnel. Thanks to the advent of home video and especially DVD, films that are (for whatever reason) without their audience can finally find one. Mark my words, Slither will be one of those flicks that is beloved many years from now. It's a true B-movie classic in every sense of the word, especially in its storyline. It fits like an old comfortable sweater.
They came from outer space! Don't they always? Bad shit always happens in small towns. Enter the meteorite. Upon crash landing on our humble planet, it is discovered by town honcho, Grant Grant (Rooker). Grant's going through the usual mid-life crisis stuff and is looking for a change. Holy shit does he find one. Actually, one found him! Before you can say "Poke it with a stick," the deadly space-rock splits open and out pour alien life-forms of the slug variety. There's no amount of salt in the world that can save the human race from these slimy bastards. They descend upon Grant in dramatic fashion and set up shop within his body.
Our newly arrived space slugs have some interesting characteristics. For one thing, upon inhabiting a human, the host is then transformed into a bloodthirsty zombie. Their victims (especially Grant) start evolving into a new breed of creature, one that could spell the end of the world as we know it. *does quick Michael Stipe-like shimmy* Can anyone stop them?! Meet lawman Bill Pardy (Fillion). Pardy's just your average Joe, looking to keep his town quiet and score with Grant's wife, Starla (Banks). He, Starla, and a few others are our first and last line of defense against these creatures. Can the carnage be contained? Will Pardy get the girl? Have you ever seen so much pus and blood before? Does the Grant monster have two schlongs? The stage is set, and you don't want to miss a single squishy second.
In 1986, while dealing with a similar situation, Detective Ray Cameron would greet people with the words "Thrill me." It's taken twenty years, but someone has answered that challenge.
The people behind Slither know exactly what kind of movie they're making. They know what key elements are needed to churn out a wickedly disgusting, yet fun ride. Director James Gunn is a proud horror fan, and who better to make a movie like this? Pay close attention to Slither, and you'll see exactly what I am getting at. For instance most of the film's characters and sights are named after those from some of our favorite movies. Need a few brief examples? I've got your hook-up.
The town's mayor is named R. J. MacReady (The Thing)
There are neighbors in the film named the Castevets. The Castevets were Rosemary's neighbors in Rosemary's Baby
Earl Bassett High School was named after the lead character in Tremors
The gun store is named after Max Renn from Videodrome
The local bar is called "Henenlotter's" (a nod to director Frank "Basket Case" Henenlotter)
There are many more homages to be found as well. While things like this may go unnoticed to the casual fan, believe me when I tell you we rabid ones eat shit like that up! Know what else we eat up? Blood and other various bodily fluids! Slime and pus are splashed around with reckless abandon. You can almost hear the F/X guy giggling with glee. As a result, there are scenes in Slither that are both cringe and vomit inducing. Not since the Eighties have I had this much fun watching an unabashedly cheesy alien invasion flick. Slither is without question this generation's Night of the Creeps. Now if only we could get that one on DVD next. Alas, that's a rant for another time.
Let's talk supplemental materials. This disc delivers! How many times have you put on the extras for your favorite film expecting to be entertained and end up being bored to tears? This is not one of those instances. Slither's extras are fast paced, at times funny, and overall totally entertaining. Even on-set stress is handled in a lighthearted manner. When asked about the film during one of the featurettes, Gunn had this to say about his flick:
"This movie has its cock in my mouth, and I'm fucking gagging. My eyes are watering, I'm gagging, but I refuse to spit it out because I'm a trooper. It's gonna cum if it's the last thing I do! Put that on your fucking DVD."
Ya just gotta love it. Aside from the oodles of extras (the longest one clocking in at around twenty minutes), we also get a commentary track by Gunn and actor Nathan Fillion. Even though the two aren't even in the same country at the time of the recording (yay telephones) they still have enough chemistry to keep things lively and engaging. Bottom line - these guys are fuckin' funny. Best damned commentary I've listened to in years.
While certainly not an A-list film, Slither still finds itself sitting pretty high upon the B-movie heap. That's more than I can say for most.
So listen up! If you didn't go see Slither in theatres, do yourself a favor -- click that little link at the bottom of this review and order the DVD. Don't live without it for another second. You don't even have to get off your ass to do it so no more excuses! It's a helluva lot easier than finding a needle in a fuck-stack. Whatever that means!
Feature commentary with director James Gunn and actor Nathan Fillion
Bringing Slither's Creatures to Life featurette
Slithery set tour with Nathan Fillion
A Making Of: The Sick Minds and Slimy Days of Slither featurette
Lloyd Kaufman's On-set Video Diary
4 1/2 out of 5