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…
…especially after they throw Wiggly the Squid on his desk.
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.
Couldn’t agree more — Slither is brilliantly twisted. Aside from the fact that the Guy From Firefly comes off a bit more soulful than Sheriff Taylor, it’s sort of like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show if somebody had dropped an extremely aggressive species of alien mutagenic gastropod molluscs on Mayberry.
My wife generally avoids the squishier end of the horror genre, but she watched it for Nathan Fillion, and laughed all the way through.
I’m Bill Pardee, and I approve of this review.
An excellent look at this sometimes under-appreciated film. I think this one was always destined for cult film status as it has so many insider injokes and references. I mean, just look at the establishing shot of the town and you can pick numerous references to horror films, characters, etc. on the store fronts. SLITHER was made by a horror fan for horror fans.
It also reinforces just how awesome Nathan Fillion is. His reaction to all the crazy things that happen during the course of the film is hilarious and he can also pull of the man of action stuff when required. I think we have a successor to Bruce Campbell as far as a go-to genre cult hero.
Also great to see Brian De Palma regular Gregg Henry in a memorable role as the town’s blowhard mayor. He gets some of the film’s best lines and is right up there with Fillion in garnering some of the most memorable laughs in the film.
I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Slither, but I’m definitely placing it on my must-see films this season.
I love you, Kelso.
Scott and JD, I agree that Fillion and Henry are both hilarious. There’s this bit… waitaminute…
ESPECIALLY YOU SAMMY!
There’s this bit where the mayor is infected and does the standard “kill me” bit, and the guy is so disliked that the sheriff just shoots him and walks on without even momentary hesitation. Loved it.
I just saw this movie around this time on t.v. and it was great.
Thought it was pretty hilarious at times and witty.
Love this post. Thanks for it Stacia.
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