Slither was on my list of movies that I was ashamed to have never seen. There is of course no real answer for why this is other than laziness--or I guess because no really gave me a good reason to. There wasn't a whole lot of urgency in the matter, no one was constantly checking in to make sure I was on my way to watching it. The only real reason I chose to seek it out was because it often landed itself on lists of the best horror comedy hybrids in existence. As we know from my past disappointment with films like Dead Alive, I was dubious of Slither's overall charm. Luckily however---Slither remains nestled safely and grotesquely in the camp of films like Return of the Living Dead, Tremors and Cemetery Man. Films where there is no strong divider between the laughs and the thrills. Films where the horror is just as prominent as the laughter--and that my friends is the mark of a truly brilliant horror comedy.
I wasn't technically a horror fan when Slither came out, but from what I read online it seems as though there was a huge backlash against the film in its early stages of promotion. Many claimed the film was a rip off of Night of the Creeps causing many to proclaim it as nothing but unoriginal and lazy. James Gunn (who I will never stop calling Tim Gunn) however professed that Slither was more inspired by the likes of Shivers and The Brood. Still though, you can't really move away from that whole, alien parasite in a meteor that turns people into zombies thing. But more on that later.
For now, a plot. After a meteor thing crashes into the small town of Wheelsy, Grant Grant gets turned into an alien slug monster. After impregnating a woman with zillions of slug aliens, Grant soon spreads his "seed" into nearly every resident of Wheelsy, turning them into slave-like zombie manifestations of his own self.
It's true that while the initial landing of the alien is very Night of the Creeps, Slither really does stay much truer to Shivers and the Brood. Not to mention that the film also somehow manages to cram in a horror reference in nearly every single frame. My favorites of course being the R.J. Macready funeral home.
and the Earl Bassett High School.
I fucking love Earl, did I mention that?
It is refreshing to see Tremors being shouted at, since the tone in Slither is very similar to it. By that I mean, both Slither and Tremors feel like mostly horror movies with just very good writing--as opposed to horror movies with highly intentional funny dialogue. There needs to be more of that these days. Being funny isn't something you should have to try at it--it should just come naturally, and not a lot of people tend to realize this. The humor is very blunt in Slither and I like that. They aren't coming up with funny ways to describe something being fucked up--character's instead just say, "That is fucked up"--because it IS.
In any case, whether or not Slither is a tribute to gory, funny movies of yesteryear---doesn't mean that Slither isn't in its own right a very, very good film. I was constantly laughing, I was a little scared AND I was a little sad. Plus, no one told me that Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer was Grant,
I always assumed the main alien guy was the mayor.
Also, THANKS The Office fans for not telling me that Pam Beesley is what else--the police secretary. Talk about being type casted.
The film is also just very well done in a wide variety of things. Pacing, storyline, acting, writing. The only thing that really lags is the CGI work but this is something I think I can forgive...only not that ending explosion. I can't forgive that.
I guess what I love most about Slither is how it builds up such a great sense of suffocation. This is most notable in the house scene which features a very prominent shout out to Barbara Steele's bathtub scene in Shivers.
I could rave on and on about this particular scene forever because it was really, REALLY well done. It also reminded me of the scene in Arachnophobia where all the little spiders take over the house.
It's one of those moments where you simply cannot anticipate that anyone will make it out alive. The situation seems so dire and so hopeless. The realization that the girl's entire family had been turned was also oddly sad. Mainly this is when she finally gets into her younger sisters' room and sees them writhing on the bed. This in a way goes back to that scene in The Blob remake, where the little boy gets killed down in the sewers. It's like we don't expect, the children not to make it and when they do--it's like a big stamp of SERIOUS all up in your face. For some reason when children are touched in horror films, it feels like all bets are off.
I also give props to Slither for just being really fucking gross. I must tell you, I have seen pictures of that gigantic lady in the barn and I think I may have even seen the clip. In context however, that scene is very, very disgusting.
As is the ending unveil of Grant in a Society-like giant blob of people and grossness.
Grant's face is also a wonderful display of yuck.
But it's also worth pointing out that the entirety of Slither is not made up of solely gross out gore.
So I loved Slither, that much we can see. If there was one thing I could change about it though, it would be the overly zombie-fied actions of the turned. Call me a zombie racist if you want, but I just don't see why they suddenly had to turn all weird, and shuffle and drag their feet when they walked.
They are not zombies, they didn't die, their brains just got taken over by the Grant monster. There was something about this that really turned me off. In the beginning, it seemed more like those that ingested the slugs were more like pod people. There was something off with them and slowly but surely they begin to physically fall apart. But then somewhere down the line, they all just changed into zombies, and so I ask, why? Is there any real need for this, aside from the fact that it appeals to the million and 5 people that love zombies? Couldn't the Brood angle have been played up more so here? Maybe I'm just crotchety because I'm racist against zombies...
Well anyways, I still love Slither and I'm sad more people weren't urging me to see it sooner. It's a fine example of a horror comedy done right, and a horror comedy that manages to supply its viewer with more than enough scares and thrills. Characters are funny and likable and we end up caring about them even though they have really annoying southern accents. Man, Slither---ya done good.