Slither (Canada/USA, 2006) - Color, Director(s): James Gunn
MPAA Rating: R
Approx. 95 min.
Z-rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Cheese Factor: 4.5 stars out of 5
James Gunn is one of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now following the surprise hit Guardian of the Galaxy. Gunn began his career as a screenwriter for Troma Entertainment, where he learned the fine art of filmmaking from none other than Lloyd Kaufman (who makes a brief cameo appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy!). I love that Gunn's career bridges the gap between Troma and Hollywood. His first major Hollywood screenplay was for the live-action adaptation of Scooby Doo in 2002, which he followed up with Dawn of the Dead and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Gunn's first feature film directorial debut came in the form of Slither, which unfortunately was a commercial flop at the box office despite receiving generally positive reviews. It has since become a cult favorite, often compared to Night of the Creeps for their similarities (though Gunn cites David Cronenberg's Shivers and The Brood being among his influences). Regardless, Slither is a disgustingly good time and every bit as fun (if not more so) as Night of the Creeps.
The movie opens with a meteorite crashing in a small town and cracking open like something out of The Blob. Geek icon Nathan Fillion plays Chief Bill Pardy who's infatuated with a teacher named Starla, played by the beautiful Elizabeth Banks. Unfortunately she's married to the sugar daddy that put her through college, an overprotective bald guy with navigator glasses, named Grant Grant, played by Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Walking Dead). When Starla spurns his advances one night, Grant goes out for a drink and hooks up with a girl that had a crush on him since they were kids. While messing around in the woods, he notices the meteorite with a slime trail leading away from it. In true Blob-like fashion, he pokes it with a stick. Why does everyone in these movies always poke at meteors with a stick? I'm not saying I probably wouldn't do the same thing but we saw why that's a potentially bad idea in The Blob. In any case, a slug-like creature shoots a barb into Grant's chest that immediately burrows into his body and makes a beeline for his brain.
|That little girl is creepy!|
Grant starts acting strangely afterwards and collects a bunch of meat. Pets also mysteriously go missing around town. Out of the wound where the barb entered his body, two tentacles emerge that he uses to inseminate the girl from the woods. She insatiably eats the rotting meat that Grant's been collecting and "aging" until she turns into a giant, bloated flesh ball. When she pops, a shit ton of slugs come slithering out of her and crawling into people's mouths, turning them into zombies. This is very similar to the premise for Night of the Creeps but this movie builds on it so much more. The slug creatures, and the zombies they create, are all connected and function like a hive mind. In one scene, Grant communicates with Starla through one of the zombies. They're organized and if one sees you, they all see you. Also, some of the zombies can spit acid, although I'm not sure why they would be able to do that? Just seems like a common zombie trope that you see in video games to have them spit acid but it's never really explained in the context of the movie. I suppose that once the slugs get into your body, you immediately start mutating. These slugs spread quickly and before you know it, the whole town's in danger.
Nudity: None. A teen is shown taking a bath when the slugs surround her but nothing is explicitly shown. This scene pays direct homage to Barbara Steele's bathtub scene in David Cronenberg's Shivers. Also, a large man takes off his bathrobe to merge with the growing pile of flesh that the alien organism becomes.
Gore: Tons of slaughtered animals, shotgun blasts to the face, melting by acid, a person gets split in half by a tentacle whip, tentacle rape, exploding people balls, forced oral slug ingestion, impalement. Not to mention plenty of ooze, goo, blood, pus, and acid vomit.
Awesome: Very. Much like Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps) James Gunn is obviously a fan of the genre. In the opening alone, there are a bunch of references to other body horror movies like Henenlotter's Saddle Lodge being a reference to director Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case, Brain Damage, and Frankenhooker), R.J. MacReady of R.J. MacReady Auctioneers & Funeral Home referencing Kurt Russell's character in John Carpenter's The Thing. Max Renn's Gun & Ammo in reference to James Wood's character in Videodrome. As a nod to James Gunn's history with Troma Entertainment, a scene from The Toxic Avenger can be seen on TV. If you look closely before their mother puts them to bed, The Strutemyer girls are reading Goosebumps books! (The Girl Who Cried Monster and You Can't Scare Me) Nathan Fillion fights a zombie deer and it has to be the best fight with a deer I've seen since Arnold Schwarzenegger punched that reindeer in Jingle All the Way. There's even a post-credit stinger so stay tuned after the credits!