Slither (Widescreen Edition) (2006)

A movie directed by James Gunn

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Watch Out For Those Worms

  • Dec 22, 2006
In general, horror films have gotten smarter in the past few years, but as the genre has become edgy, it has lost much of its humor. There used to be a time when horror movies were both intelligent and funny. SCREAM brought those types of movies back to life, but after all the copycatting of that particular franchise the industry forgot that a horror movie can both be intelligent and humorous. There have been some exceptions, such as SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but overall scary movies just aren't very funny anymore and many of them in attempt to up the gore-factor have even lost what little wit they have had.

A fairly recent entry into the genre and one that attempts to rectify the situation is James Gunn's SLITHER. Gunn worked his way up the ranks with Troma films and before now is best known for writing the SCOOBY-DOO films and the re-make of DAWN OF THE DEAD. Gunn not only wrote SLITHER, but he also directed it. The film is a homage to the action-horror films of the 1980s. It's witty and humorous. There's also plenty of gore for those horror gore-hounds who judge a horror film based upon the amount of blood and guts shown.

The film takes place in the small and sleepy town of Wheelsy, N.C. A meteorite from outer space lands unnoticed in a nearby forest with barely a thud (that's one of the many conventions that the film turns upside down). The first half of the movie is full of back story and exposition. That keeps the pace of the film during the first half somewhat slow, but that's okay. Gunn is a filmmaker who knows what he's doing. In order for a movie to be worthwhile, the audience has to connect with the main characters and the beginning of the film does a good job of establishing that relationship between the central characters and the audience.

A day after the tiny meteor landed in the forest, one of the town's wealthiest citizens, Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) finds himself walking through the forest with a woman he is contemplating committing adultery with. He doesn't give into the temptation, however, because he loves his wife, Starla (Elizabeth Banks) far too much. While in the forest Grant discovers a strange, slimy organism (can you say ALIEN?) and pokes it with a stick. The organism opens up and shoots a spiny worm into Grant's body. The worm is actually an alien from a world billions of miles away. It crawls through Grant's body and plants itself in his brain, fusing itself with the mind and memories of Grant. Grant returns home, but he begins acting strange. He cries for the first time around his wife. He has a strange craving to eat only meat. He also has a strong urge to implant someone with his alien spawn. Grant's body also begins to change. At first it's very subtle, and Grant tells Starla he was stung by bees. But, soon after, Starla discovers that Grant has turned their basement into a rotting meat locker and it becomes quite clear that there's something much worse wrong with Grant than just a simple bee sting after he tries to choke Starla and his arm turns into a lengthy appendage that would make Mr. Elastic jealous. From that point the hunt is the local law enforcement attempt to hunt Grant down and find a kidnapped woman. The alien that has taken over Grant is smarter than the average bear and he leads the would-be heroes into his lair where his wormy children are soon to be born. Once the worms are loose, they begin entering people's mouths and turning them into flesh-eating zombies that are actually just extensions of the Grant Monster's collective mind. It's the end of the world as we know it with just a bumbling sheriff, Grant's beautiful wife, the town sheriff, and a teenage girl standing in the way.

I really enjoyed watching SLITHER. It's a horror film that is both smart and funny. The film is a tribute to classic 80s action-horror films (references to these pictures abound in the movie from the name of the high school to character names to names of the town's stores), but is also a throwback, albeit more gory and intense, to the alien-horror movies of the 1950s and 1960s. In lesser hands, the film could easily have been a trainwreck, but Gunn did an excellent job and brings everything together towards a satisfying conclusion. I'm eager to see what Gunn will do next.

The DVD has several interesting features. There are the usual deleted scenes and outtakes. There's a feature commentary with Gunn and actor Nathan Fillion that is interesting as well as slightly informative. There's short video diary by the guy who made the TOXIC AVENGER movies because he has a small cameo in the movie. There are several behind the scenes featurettes as well as a special effects guy explaining how a person can make their own buckets of blood. For such a small film, the features on the DVD are well worth the price and are equal to several classes of film school, the only thing missing is meeting the people in person and making some connections.

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More Slither (2006) reviews
review by . January 04, 2007
I love horror movies- low budget, high budget, direct to video and in theater- I like them all. But because of this it takes a heck of a lot to actually impress me, rather than simply entertain me. Slither is easily the best horror movie to come along in more than 2 decades since we first saw Sam Raimi's brilliant Evil Dead. Yes, as a horror movie fan I know full well I am on the edge of committing sacrilege here, but trust me, there are many parallels.     Nathan Fillion is …
review by . October 27, 2006
James Gunn is quite good in what he does in scriptwriting, and he is a very rare species of people making it in the Hollywood scene without selling out. His scripts always show his true sense of humor and cynicism. The film is some kind of parody of horror flicks and uses a wide range of motives.     In this movie the threat comes from outer space when meteor-like entity directs towards the Earth. It falls apart and a small cocoon gets to the small Southern American town. Soon …
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With laughs and gross-outs aplenty,Slitheris the best horror comedy sinceShaun of the Dead. Having written for the jubilant trash-mongers at Troma Films before scripting 2004's well-received remake ofDawn of the Dead, writer-director James Gunn crafted this hilarious splatter-fest as an homage to the comically violent horror films of the 1970s and '80s, and he gets it just right with a low-budget look, perfect casting, grisly make-up effects and judicious use of CGI gore. The story's a deliberate monster-mash, borrowing from a dozen other movies with its plot about an invasion of slithery slug-like parasites from outer space, arriving (via meteorite) in the redneck town of Wheelsy, South Carolina, where they turn most of the local yokels into flesh-eating zombies. The first victim (played by Michael Rooker) turns into a squid-like, multi-tentacled host monster (kill him and you kill 'em all), and his terrified wife (Elizabeth Banks) teams up with Wheelsy's sheriff (Nathan Fillion, fromFireflyandSerenity) and mayor (comedic scene-stealer Gregg Henry) to eradicate the alien threat before Wheelsy turns into Slugville. Gunn handles comedy and horror with exuberant flair, andSlither's greatest strength is that it never aspires to be anything more than it is: 96 minutes of good laughs and gruesomeness, served up with the kind of gleeful abandon that only true horror buffs can fully appreciate.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: James Gunn
DVD Release Date: October 24, 2006
Runtime: 95 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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