Some days, all you want is a good ol’fashioned monster movie, one in which the critters are from outer space, the townspeople are unsuspecting, and the slime flows like an insidious, revolting river. Slither provides all this and more, combining the B movie horrors of the 1980s with a sense of humor seldom found in its gory predecessors.
The movie opens with the prerequisite rock from outer space crashing to Earth in the woods outside of Wheelsy, South Carolina. Keeping with the horror theme that the sexually frustrated (be they virgins or not) are the first to die, Slithers sees its soon-to-be villain Grant crawling bars after his wife decides she’d rather sleep than fool around. He finds an old flame willing to become a new one, and together they head off into the woods, where Grant has an attack of conscious and breaks off his would-be fling. Unfortunately for him, he stumbles across a pulsating organic orb along the forest path, and as he pokes it with a stick, it pokes back, shooting a barb deep into his chest.
From here on out, the story follows a time-honored and all-too-familiar evolution as an alien parasite buries itself deep within Grant’s brain and begins conspiring to infect the entire town with its evil spawn. It’s The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Critters, Alien and a dozen other 80s horror flicks rolled into one, and if it took itself to seriously, it would have been a disappointment. Fortunately, it doesn’t.
“It’s Just a Bee Sting”
If real people watched a Slithering Horror from Outer Space kill and then attempt to carry off a cow, you better believe the curses would flow as quickly as the slime.
Humor, usually profane and curse-filled, makes Slithers something more than just another slug-fest. Most of the lines are irreproducible here, Nuketown being a somewhat family-friendly publication, but the movie’s exceedingly quotable.
Nathan Fillion plays the town laid-back sheriff Bill Pardy with the same sort of sardonic enthusiasm we saw in his role as Malcom Reynolds on Firefly, but with all of his Chinese curses replaced with English ones. He’s common sense with a handgun, and he’s the guy you want at your side when the aliens come for the livestock and space zombies walk the land. Jack MacReady, played by Gregg Henry, is the obligatory self-centered mayor trying to avoid acknowledging his town’s impending destruction.
Together, they’ve got some great lines, like this exchange after discovering Grant’s transformation:
Jack MacReady: It’s obvious the bastard’s got lyme disease!
Bill Pardy: What?
Jack MacReady: Lyme disease. You touch some deer feces, and then you… eat a sandwich without washin’ your hands. You got your lyme disease!
Bill Pardy: And that makes you look like a squid?
Like all the best horror, Grant retains a touch of humanity that makes him all the more evil. He truly loves his wife and as he and his hive mind take over the town he serenades her with their favorite love song. Song by a monster, it’d be pathetic … song by a horde of monsters … it’s exceedingly creepy.
The movie’s too derivative to hold many true surprises. It unfolds as you’d expect, from the initial infection to the wandering zombies to the final confrontation with Grant. That said, what makes it so much fun, at least for those of us who grew up on this stuff, is the acknowledgement of what came before coupled with the character’s common sense reactions to the horrors they face. This isn’t a Friday the 13th film, where teenagers wander off to get killed. Ok, some do, but most are intelligent people with guns who use them without hesitation.
It’s refreshing. So is the reliance on non-CGI special effects — while gore can be modeled by computers, so far they haven’t been able to capture that visceral feel that dousing someone in buckets of actual slime can.
Slithers was made for those who love the creature features of the 1980s and 1990s, and if you count yourself among those ranks, then you need to see it. Non-aficionados may find the film entertaining, but have a hard time getting past its B-movie inspiration.
- Starring: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry
- Director: James Gunn
- Year Released: 2006
- Running Time: 96 minutes
- Buy it from Amazon.com