SLITHER… pick up the trail

SlitherAfter dying a quick death at the box office, Slither (2006) is now available on DVD.  Fans of classic sci-fi on the order of Tarantula (1955) and The Monolith Monsters (1957) should get a kick out of this gnarly and exceedingly profane little horror comedy, which also flies its freak flag in memory of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Blob (1958), Invisible Invaders (1959), Night of the Living Dead (1968), John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), Fred Dekker’s cult item Night of the Creeps (1986) and Ron Underwood’s Tremors (1990)… to name but a few of the invasion scenarios that obviously played a big role in its development.   

Tub SlugSet in the swampy backwater of Wheelsey, Slither pits a ragtag group of townies (a hot biology teacher, the sheriff who loves her, a sleazy mayor, a high schooler on the verge of badgirldom) against an interstellar parasite who first inhabits local millionaire Grant Grant (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’s Michael Rooker).  Developing a ravening hunger for raw meat and toy poodles, Grant’s appetites drive his desirable wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) into the arms of her childhood sweetheart, Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion, seen most recently in Adrienne Shelly’s Waitress).  Burning with jealousy and extraterrestrial insatiability, the squid-like Grant goes on a tentacled tear, turning single mom Brenda (Brenda James) into his brood bitch while wolfing down herd stock like Chicken McNuggets.  When Brenda’s egg sac explodes, Wheelsey’s population soars in the form of thousands of slug-like creatures, each out for a host body to invade.  Rescuing Starla from the Grant’s slimy clutches is only half the battle, as Bill and his deputies face a growing army of shuffling, slug-infected zombies able to add to their number with little more than a camel spit or a goodnight kiss. 

Blog mobDoing right what other horror comedies do wrong, Slither nonetheless follows a familiar template.  Cobbled together from a veritable greatest horror hits, Gunn’s screenplay name-checks genre giants (Basketcase director Frank Henenlotter gets a saloon named after him, while the funeral parlor is named for Kurt Russell’s character in The Thing and its high school for Fred Ward’s Tremors hero) and allows for the expected guest cameos (Gunn turns up as a nerdy academic while Troma CEO Lloyd Kaufman plays a jailhouse detainee, The Office’s Jenna Fischer is on hand as Bill’s skeeter-obsessed secretary and listen closely for the voice of Rob Zombie).  Yet what distances Slither from the ironic pack is the care with which it is made (when was the last time you stood up and applauded CGI?), the nuance of its performances (while Gregg Henry’s venal mayor gets all the best and bluest dialogue, Nathan Fillion’s understated line readings are deadpan hilarious), its avalanchine pace and a deceptively witty script (“What the hell kinda thing wants you to eat it?”).  Slither also knows how to balance humor and toe-curling tension, as when an imperiled teen (Tania Saulnier) takes refuge from her infected family – including her twin zombie baby sisters.   

This MonsterKid™ got a kick out of Slither but it is not for those offended by coarse language (which continues even into the closing song).  For the thick-skinned and strong of heart, it’s a bona fide scream.

Slither is available from Netflix and other rental outlets near you.

12 Responses SLITHER… pick up the trail
Posted By Eskimo Pop : March 17, 2007 1:05 pm

Hey, I thought this was the 1973 James Caan-Sally Kellerman road movie. Boy, am I confused. I want my money back. Can you sue studios for title misrepresentation?

Posted By Eskimo Pop : March 17, 2007 1:05 pm

Hey, I thought this was the 1973 James Caan-Sally Kellerman road movie. Boy, am I confused. I want my money back. Can you sue studios for title misrepresentation?

Posted By RHS : March 17, 2007 1:14 pm

Can you sue studios for title misrepresentation? I'll let you know as soon as I'm done watching The NeverEnding Story.

Posted By RHS : March 17, 2007 1:14 pm

Can you sue studios for title misrepresentation? I'll let you know as soon as I'm done watching The NeverEnding Story.

Posted By LeeAnn92 : March 19, 2007 10:50 pm

I really, really, really wanted to see Slither. I just couldn't quite stomach it, though. I love Nathan Fillion and wish he did more (loved him Firefly and Serenity!), but I've never done well with horror films.Maybe I'll try it now that it's on DVD and I can see it with the lights on!

Posted By LeeAnn92 : March 19, 2007 10:50 pm

I really, really, really wanted to see Slither. I just couldn't quite stomach it, though. I love Nathan Fillion and wish he did more (loved him Firefly and Serenity!), but I've never done well with horror films.Maybe I'll try it now that it's on DVD and I can see it with the lights on!

Posted By RHS : March 20, 2007 8:06 pm

Your discomfort mileage may vary but I didn't find Slither too gross for my tastes… and my tastes really don't run to very gory movies.  (There are exceptions, of course.)  It may keep you from the meat department of your local Ralphs (Victory and Buena Vista?) but it's all in good sluggy fun.

Posted By RHS : March 20, 2007 8:06 pm

Your discomfort mileage may vary but I didn't find Slither too gross for my tastes… and my tastes really don't run to very gory movies.  (There are exceptions, of course.)  It may keep you from the meat department of your local Ralphs (Victory and Buena Vista?) but it's all in good sluggy fun.

Posted By Karen : March 29, 2007 9:56 pm

Gotta beg to differ.  I waited for the DVD as I, like LeeAnn92, just plain wanted to see Nathan Fillion.  And, yes, he's entertaining, as is everyone in the film, but it really was just plain too gross for me.  It left me feeling really queasy.  I'm just not made for this kind of film, I guess.  So, despite the critical–and blogical–acclaim, I would say that if horror ain't you bag, Fillion's not going to save this for you.

Posted By Karen : March 29, 2007 9:56 pm

Gotta beg to differ.  I waited for the DVD as I, like LeeAnn92, just plain wanted to see Nathan Fillion.  And, yes, he's entertaining, as is everyone in the film, but it really was just plain too gross for me.  It left me feeling really queasy.  I'm just not made for this kind of film, I guess.  So, despite the critical–and blogical–acclaim, I would say that if horror ain't you bag, Fillion's not going to save this for you.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : September 5, 2007 5:09 pm

Totally the best blend of physical fx and CGI yet, and a witty scrpt and first rate cast!  An unheralded delight!

Posted By Bob Gutowski : September 5, 2007 5:09 pm

Totally the best blend of physical fx and CGI yet, and a witty scrpt and first rate cast!  An unheralded delight!

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