If you are a fan of what I like to call Slime-Horror, then you will love Slither. Slither is an awesome amalgamation of all the best horror movies of the 80s. It has everything. Slime from the 1988 version of The Blob, slugs from the 1986 Night of the Creeps, possession from 1988s Night of the Demon, zombies from Reurn of the Living Dead, aliens from Aliens. The creators threw in everything but the kitchen sink.
Starring Malcolm Reyn… err, I mean Nathan Fillion, fresh off his stint on Firefly; the gorgeous Elizabeth Banks, who is a surprisingly fearless comedian; and Michael Rooker, (from anything), the movie is in the best 80s tradition of comedic Horror. Gregg Henry, as Mayor Jack McCready, (recognize the name?), provides much of the comic relief as, what is quite possibly, the most profanity spewing character ever seen in a movie. Seriously, the guy can’t say even the most innocuous things without cussing.
This movie is James Gunn’s love letter to the Comedy Horror genre and secured entry into my pantheon of great film directors. The movie is disgustingly fun and funny, and if you’re not bothered by profanity spewing rednecks, you will love it.
Grant Grant is totally in love with his wife, Starla, who he rescued from a life of poverty, and he’s surprisingly loyal to her. (I felt sure he was the kind of abusive character who would not be averse to a little side action), until the night he’s possessed by an alien from space, in the form of a needle to the back of the neck. After that his behavior becomes erratic, sneaky, ravenous and neighborhood pets start disappearing.
When he attacks Starla and kidnaps a local girl, (the same girl who witnessed his possession, the night she was hoping to get a little love action from Grant), Sheriff Pardy and Starla craft a scheme to capture him, but the plan goes horribly awry when they stumble across the bloated body of his kidnap victim. Complaining that she’s terribly hungry, her body bursts open, releasing a flood of slugs that take possession of their human hosts, make the victim’s dead bodies extensions of Grants will, and force them to at lots of meat. As Starla calls it, “It’s a concious disease.”
Sheriff Pardy must rescue his town, Starla, (who he’s been crushing on since they were children), himself and possibly the entire world, as that’s Grants endgame. Along the way there’s some bukkakke action, zombie killing, a lot of profanity, slug swallowing, deer punching, drama. meat eating and did I mention lots of goo, glop, and slime. It’s a gloriously disgusting film.
Nathan Fillion has wonderful comedic timing, while Elizabeth Banks is even funnier as she mostly approaches the movie with a completely straight face. Her character seems to think she’s in a Soap Opera, which is a great foil for Gregg Henry’s character, who seems to know he’s in a Horror movie and is totally not having any of this shit.
Some of the funnier moments are the reactions of all the characters to the situation they’re experiencing. They have exactly the sort of reactions, and make exactly the kind of comments, you’d expect people, who believe they’re in a seriously fucked up situation, to make. Their facial reactions, to the disgusting shenanigans we see, exactly mirror the audience reactions.
I’m sure you’re starting to notice that my Horror movie tastes have a definite theme. For me, humor is an integral part of horror, alleviating the stress of watching difficult images or feeling scared. Humor and horror are two sides of the same coin and deeply connected. Its the reason why some people’s reaction to fear is laughter or jokes. I’m not a fan of torture-porn, for example, because there’s little humor to make the gore watchable.
For me, watching horror movies is often a cathartic experience, and the ability to laugh at the over the top ridiculousness on screen, is a part of that experience. Movies with lots of gore, but without the humorous component, only make me feel worse, and there are times when I can appreciate that feeling, but not very often. Its not that I won’t watch such movies, at all. I do enjoy some movies that are straight horror, but usually such movies have a limited amount of blood (it Follows, Cloverfield), social messages (Dawn of the Dead), or romance as in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
There’s also the nostalgia factor. I grew up during the great Horror Movie Glut of the 1980s, and the vast majority of those movies were often Horror Comedies. Some of my best memories are of sitting in a movie theater, laughing my ass off at the antics of a possessed hand, or a scaly gremlin. Comedic moments will allow me to sit and watch films I would normally be too frightened to look at, (like Arachnophobia), especially since I suffer from the disorder. I have an exceptionally difficult time watching any version of The Blob or any of the Saw films. The comedic elements of these films are kept at an absolute minimum. As a result, since I’m unable to depressurize from the gore with laughter, I just become more stressed.
It would be near impossible for me to watch Grant Grant the Alien, in the scene where he is choking Starla with his arm tentacles, as domestic abuse is never funny to me. I can even appreciate, that its not the abuse, itself, that’s being made fun of,(its played completely straight), but the reactions of the other characters to the sight of Grant’s tentacles, that makes the scene funny. Or the scene where Bill Pardy, witnessing some astonishing level of gore, says exactly what I’m thinking,
“That is some seriously fucked up shit!”
Slither is available on DVD and for rent on Amazon.