I remember seeing Slither in a not-so-packed theater and thinking after the credits rolled, “People don’t know what they’re missing, this movie is glorious.” Who doesn’t want to see a movie about alien brain slugs? Especially giant, slimy alien brain slugs that enter through your mouth? What else is there in life?! It’s also James Gunn’s directorial debut and it shows in the best possible way. It’s mayhem at its finest.
Wheelsy is a small, podunk town where not much happens. We’re quickly introduced to Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) and his partner Wally (Don Thompson) who have been sitting in their squad car, clocking birds in flight, and falling asleep. They’re also completely oblivious to the giant meteorite that has just slammed into the earth behind them. Quick camera scan through the woods and we see the meteorite open. *CUE TITLE SCREEN* We then meet Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks), the teacher that every 14 year old boy wants to see naked, and who Bill Pardy is hopelessly in love with. She’s in a terrible marriage with Grant Grant (Michael Rooker), a controlling, sex deprived alpha male. When Starla refuses Grant some of dat lovin’ again, he becomes frustrated and heads straight to the bar to drown his sorrows. It’s at this point I should mention that I’ve laughed at least twelve times because if there’s one thing I can’t stress enough, it’s that this movie is absolutely hilarious. So anyways, Grant is drowning his sorrows at the bar when Brenda Gutierrez (Brenda James) approaches and decides to flirt with Grant. She’s the little sister of Grant’s ex-girlfriend. The two of them run off into the woods for a make-out/groping session that’s cut short when Grant begins to feel guilty for betraying Starla’s trust. They begin to walk back to the bar when something catches Grant Grant’s (seriously, that’s the character’s name) eye. It’s a trail of what appears to be the ectoplasm mucus from Ghostbusters. He then notices a giant booger pod that protrudes a tiny spear-like tentacle, which quickly pierces Grant in the stomach. Don’t poke alien booger pods with a stick! While in his stomach, it seems to be filling Grant up with what can only be presumed as tiny brain slug eggs. Let the disgustingly beautiful transformation of Grant Grant and the entire town begin.
This is James Gunn’s best movie. Fight me. The reason I say that is because you can tell how much fun he had making it. There’s a scene where the song “Every Woman in The World” by Air Supply is playing while a bunch of zombie mutant monsters devour the corpses of rotting, bloated animals and you know James Gunn found that to be really funny. Like, probably way funnier than everyone else. They were all like “Ok, James…it’s funny, but not piss my pants funny.” And because you know that he laughed a little harder, you laugh a little harder. Slither is a superb homage to so many classic horror and sci-fi movies and Gunn gives a nod to all the greats like The Thing, Toxic Avenger, Invasion of The Body Snatchers, Re-Animator, Tremors, The Blob and most notably Shivers. So basically it’s a horror/sci-fi lover’s wet dream. Also, Captain Malcolm Reynolds is in this and he’s saving the day. I will never turn down a movie with Elizabeth Banks, either, and Michael Rooker definitely solidified his role as a James Gunn favorite. My all time favorite character in Slither, however, has to be Mayor Jack MacCready (Gregg Henry). This character has some hysterically memorable lines and check out his last name. Just one of the many Easter eggs that makes this movie so much fun.
Slither is also super gross and gory. It was made in 2006, and yes, there are some CGI effects, but it also utilizes old school effects which makes it the perfect blend of modern and classic. As a huge fan of classic gore, I’m completely satisfied after watching this movie. The scene in the barn with Brenda is both hilarious and revolting, but that’s a recurring theme throughout the movie: one hilarious/revolting scene after another.
Some might say this type of movie is worn out, but Gunn makes it work so wonderfully. He has gone on to make some great blockbuster movies, but Slither is where you definitely get a sneak peek at the kind of filmmaker he really is and it all stems from the fact that he is a fan of the genres. Watching this movie is like being in on a secret joke and that’s why I left the theater that day knowing I just saw something truly special.
Liza Marie is a Milwaukee-based standup comedian who enjoys all things horror and sci-fi.