**** (out of 5)
March 31, 2006
Nathan Fillion as BILL PARDY
Elizabeth Banks as STARLA GRANT
Michael Rooker as GRANT GRANT
Gregg Henry as JACK MACREADY
Tania Saulnier as KYLIE STRUTEMYER
Brenda James as BRENDA GUTIERREZ
Directed by: James Gunn
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If you don’t get “Slither,” you won’t like “Slither.” If you don’t understand the kind of films it is paying homage to, you might just chalk it up to another crappy horror movie. However, if you’re like me, and you understand what writer/director James Gunn was doing, you should love it.
I grew up in the 1980s with a steady diet of horror films. At that time, there were basically two brands of these flicks. The first (and more often remembered) are the teenage slasher films. Although they started in the late 1970s with “Halloween,” slasher films didn’t come into their own until the 1980s. It seemed that every few months there was a new film featuring Jason, Freddy or Michael Myers hacking up the local teenagers.
The lesser remembered type of horror flick from the 1980s were actually a throwback to the teenage horror films of the 1950s. These were the small-town alien invasion flicks. This covered everything from the rubbery goop from the 1988 version of “The Blob” to the furry little killers in “Critters.” I preferred these films over the slashers because they were simply more fun.
Gunn has made a love letter to these horror invasion flicks of the 1980s, and it’s name is “Slither.” It has everything from those movies – the hick small town, the reluctant sheriff, the pretty girl who never left town, the corrupt politician and of course the creepy alien threat.
“Slither” opens up with an asteroid careening to earth. It crashes near a small town, and out pops a tiny alien slug that bores into the brain of the richest man in town. The slug uses the man as a conduit to set up a breeding cycle of other slugs to be extensions of itself in an attempt to overrun the earth and feed off of humanity.
In addition to the many nods to the horror films of the 1980s, Gunn tips his hat at the classic zombie films. This is not a surprise from the guy who wrote the script for 2004’s “Dawn of the Dead.” When the killer slugs infest bodies, they take over the mind and turn the townspeople into zombie-like creatures. I prefer to call them “slombies,” which I borrowed from my four-year-old son when I tried to explain the story to him.
With the slombies taking over the town, a few lucky humans avoid infestation and try to find a way to destroy the main slug before it takes over the planet.
“Slither” is a brilliantly crafted piece of work. Like “Shaun of the Dead,” this isn’t just a great spoof movie, but it’s a great horror movie as well. Gunn handles the comedy perfectly, not getting too cheeky with the delivery and keeping things as serious as he can. There are many nods to classic horror flicks, including a cameo by Troma guru Lloyd Kaufman. And the film stars Michael Rooker – Henry the serial killer himself – as patient zero. What more can you ask for?
If there ever was a definition of “popcorn film,” this is it. Horror fans should gobble up “Slither,” and they should laugh their butts off as well. The film is filled with over-the-top humor and hysterical one-liners. It’s a great form of escape from the not-too-recent Oscar season that featured a weighted slate of heavy, issue-driven films.