Slither (2006) is a witty horror homage, borrowing elements from various zombie movies as well as Squirm, The Brood, Night of the Creeps, The Blob, and a dozen others. It’s filled with little in-jokes, such as Rob Zombie as the voice of Dr. Karl, Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman in a tiny cameo, and I believe there is even an off-hand reference to a family called “The Romeros”.
That’s not to say it doesn’t engage in some overt yet very quotable hipsterism, and I suspect that is a main complaint of those horror fans who dismissed Slither as essentially pointless. Director James Gunn‘s off-putting insistence that the film was in no way related to Night of the Creeps certainly worked against the film, as the is-it-or-isn’t-it factor continues to overwhelm the majority of reviews five years after its release.
Michael Rooker as the implausibly named Grant Grant puts in a stellar performance as the obligatory dude bitten by alien slug things. Rooker easily provides the charisma, looks, pathos, rage, and needle-sharp comedic timing needed for a surprisingly complex role.
As Grant Grant transforms into something hilariously unidentifiable — the incompetent small town police force apparently believe him to be some kind of land squid — his wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) finds herself falling for Sheriff Bill Pardy, her former beau (Nathan Fillion). The romantic triangle is customary, even obligatory, yet it never feels forced. Fillion — who is apparently officially known on the internets as “that dude from Firefly” — puts in a solid performance as the stereotypical sheriff of a tiny burg, a man who clearly achieved his position by being the only person within a 25-mile radius who had both common sense and a desire to wear the badge. His reaction at his deputies laughing about the land bound squid-ish creature they are hunting is priceless…
Special mention should be made of Tania Saulnier who plays Kylie, teenaged daughter of a family bitten by the slug bugs. In a role clearly meant to mimic 1980s B-horror final girls, Kylie matches the cynicism and strength of the sheriff, but the character is typically forgotten by reviewers except to note the now-iconic bathtub scene.
Slither is eminently fun, your one-stop shop for romance, gore, aliens, zombies, humor, Beanie babies, Air Supply songs and land squids.