Sunday, April 14, 2013

Movie – Slither (2006)

Slither wears its B movie horror comedy pedigree not with shame, but with pride.  Writer/director James Gunn had previously written the screenplays for the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and the 2002 live action Scooby-Doo movie.  Take the tone of both of those films, mix them together, throw in some people like Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks who can do both comedy and drama, and you’ve got Slither.  It’s a fun movie, but it’s not for everyone.  I’ll explain.

I bought this movie for a little bit of nothing at a rental store’s DVD sale.  I liked it a lot more than I expected.  The problem was that they had put a Full Screen (aka Pan and Scan) movie in a DVD case that said it was Widescreen.  I wanted to see the whole film and when I later happened upon a new DVD for five dollars I bought it again.  I gave the first DVD to a good friend who I knew sometimes watched horror.  His wife started the movie with him, but it wasn’t long before she asked my friend, “Chip paid money for this movie?...Twice?”  It was obviously not to her tastes.

Slither’s basic premise is that of an old fashioned alien invaders/parasites take over humans kind of story.  Part of the fun of the movie are the tons of references to other horror films, many in the names of people, places, or things.  Examples of referenced movies are Rosemary’s Baby and The Thing (1982).  I’m sure I missed a ton of them myself, but I will mention one since I just reviewed Tremors.  At one point in Slither the Earl Bassett Community School is seen.  That was Fred Ward’s character in Tremors.  And with Nathan Fillion in the movie there are multiple references to his TV series Firefly and the film Serenity.  I’ll leave those to the fans to find.

Slither opens in a small, rural town where an alien pod crashes in the forest.  Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) sees it and investigates.  He is taken over by an alien.  It starts to slowly alter his appearance.  His wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) notices something is wrong when his face starts looking really messy.  He tries to blame it on an allergic reaction to a bee sting.

Meanwhile, the town is getting ready to celebrate its annual Deer Cheer Festival.  Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) and his deputies are being harassed by Mayor Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry), who wants everything to go well so he will get re-elected.  The other major character in the film is teenager Kylie Strutemyer (Tania Saulnier).

The alien parasite controlling Grant makes him start doing some weird things.  He kidnaps a woman and starts buying all kinds of meat to feed to her.  I won’t spoil what this leads to, but let’s just say that a whole lot more alien parasites show up.  When they do they start taking over the people in the town by entering them through their mouths.

In fact, the Sheriff, Deputies, and Mayor are all attacked by the first wave of these creatures that look like foot long slugs.  A few of the Deputies are infected, but the others quickly learn to cover their mouths and eventually the horde disperses into the woods.  The Mayor, who has most of the best lines in the film, goes off after this incident.  He first says, “Thing tried to get into my mouth.  What kind of creature wants you to eat it?”  A little later they find that the infected Deputies are still alive and a woman says, “Praise Jesus!”  The Mayor looks at her in disbelief and says, “Praise Jesus? That's f*cking pushing it! This shit's about as far from God as shit can get! Either of you ever seen anything like that? You even heard of anything like that? Huh? Me neither... and I watch Animal Planet all the f*cking time!”

The alien parasites don’t just infect humans.  They also go after animals.  One gets inside a deer and let’s just say that the annual Deer Cheer hunting festival is going to have a whole new meaning this year when the hunter becomes the hunted.

There’s one scene that will probably give most women the willies (pun intended).  It’s the one you see on the DVD cover above.  Kylie is just trying to take a quiet bath when the alien slugs invade her family’s home.  One enters the bath with her.  It still goes for her mouth, but just the thought that it might try somewhere else would probably creep women out.

While all of this has been going on, Grant has been changing to the point where he is far beyond human.  He has scared off his wife Starla, but he still loves and desires her.  His emotions are broadcast to all the other possessed humans and all of a sudden Starla finds everyone in town is after her.  Both she and Kylie end up on the run and eventually join up with the Sheriff and Mayor.  Never mind if they can stop the invasion; can they even survive the night?  (If the Mayor doesn’t get some Mr. Pibb soda, he might not.)

Gregg Henry, as the Mayor, steals most of the scenes he is in, including several with Nathan Fillion, so that’s saying something.  Fillion gets a bunch of good lines, too.  Elizabeth Banks has a very funny scene where she takes out some frustration on a possessed person.

The movie also has some cameos.  James Gunn appears as a teacher.  His then wife Jenna Fischer has a small role as the 911 operator and dispatcher for the town.  You should also listen for a voice cameo by Rob Zombie as a doctor.  Another fun little thing is that this film has another short scene after the credits.

Some people just watch a movie and never spend a second on all the Special Features that also come on the DVDs.  In this case if you do that then you will be missing out.  Of the many DVD extras there are three that you have to watch.  They are the Set Tour with Nathan Fillion, the comedic feature Who is Bill Pardy?, and the Gag Reel.  Those will make you laugh at least as hard as the film did.

I had a lot of fun while watching this movie.  It does have a number of grotesque scenes in it involving the aliens affecting the appearance of humans, though, so it’s not a cakewalk for those who hate anything gross.  In fact, at one point a character says, “Now that is some f*cked up shit”, which probably should be said by a character in most horror movies, if you think about it.  If those kinds of scenes don’t bother you, though, then I recommend you give this film a try.

Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

           DVD                      Blu-ray                 Instant Video


  1. I'm maintaining my string of having seen films in this category, as well as really liking your films in this category. Slither is loads of gross, gory fun. You're also dead-on right that Gregg Henry steals the film. His Mr. Pibb rant kills me every time.

    The more you know about horror films, the better this one is, because there are little homages here and there. F'rinstance, the bar they hang out in is named after B-movie director Frank Henenlotter (he did Basket Case and Frankenhooker), and the mayor has the same name as the Kurt Russell character in The Thing. There's also a mention of the "Castavets' Farm," the Castavets being the neighbors in Rosemary's Baby.

    Also, I'm Bill Pardy.

    1. "...and now there's no goddamn Mr. Pibb?"

      That line, his Animal Planet line, and his "bitch is hardcore" line after watching Starla just whale on an alien possessed person get me laughing ever single time.

      "I'm maintaining my string of having seen films in this category, as well as really liking your films in this category."

      Have you seen Tucker & Dale vs. Evil? That's the only one you haven't commented on, so I figured that meant you hadn't seen it.

      I'm Bill Pardy.

    2. For reference, for everyone else: (NSFW)

      I haven't seen Tucker & Dale yet. I just haven't had the time, but it's one I'm looking forward to seeing.

    3. Based on your liking of the other films I've reviewed so far, I think you'll like it quite a bit.

  2. Dirty, disgusting, goofy, and a whole bunch of fun just the way I like it. Good review Chip.

  3. First of all - thanks for all the comments! I noticed you were watching funny/horror things, it's one of my favorite genres. I liked Slither a lot, very funny movie especially quick cameo with the main character's secretary and her nodding. The film was so gross I don't think I'll see it again soon but it was very entertaining.

    1. You're welcome. I used to try to get to every blog I followed at least once, if not twice, a week, but as I had more and more to see I found myself literally spending 6-8 hours every time doing that. A few months back I finally gave up and started visiting blogs only every now and then. In return I've lost some commenters, but I was expecting that and understand that.

      When I watched the first three episodes of Game of Thrones I made a mental note to come check out your blog since I was sure you would be writing about them and I wanted to find out what you thought. I know you like it just as much as I do. I enjoy your comparisons to the books since it's been almost two years now since I read them. And when I did read them I blitzed through them - well, as much as a person can "blitz" through 5,000 pages anyway.

      Slither was kind of gross, but I agree that it was very entertaining. Thanks.