Monday, April 03, 2006


As misanthropic as it sounds, sometimes it's just a hell of a lot of fun watching people get their heads shot off. When done correctly (like in the recent Hills Have Eyes remake) it can be exhilarating, scary, and vindicating. Like contemporary action fare (which most assume to be easy, but allow the countless action dullards to prove otherwise) it is only true bliss placed in the hands of a true connoisseur. James Gunn, writer/director of the new horror/comedy Slither, is one such savant. The glib delight he takes in exploding heads and creepy crawlies is truly a rare treat in the multiplexes today. Most contemporary Hollywood films are by the book bore-fests - no soul, just formula. That Slither recognizes its formula already pits it one step above the rest. It knows what it is, and does it revel.

Taking cues from B-horror of the fifties (The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing) sixties (Night of the Living Dead) and a special direct nod to the first few films of David Cronenberg (Shivers and Rabid, in particular - both creatures appear in some form), Gunn brings the sardonic flair that infused his Dawn of the Dead remake with wit and vitality. It works doubly well here, as a band of killer slugs wreaks havoc on a town of bumb-fuck South Carolina locals. These locals are, as you can imagine dumber than their livestock and Gunn makes use of his gift for dialogue here. When one sees the main creature (pictured below) in a field, he exclaims,"That looks like something that fell off my dick during the war!"

Social satires abound (a girl saves herself by sinking her hideous floral decal press-on nails - done, she informs her parents, by a Japanese girl, no less - into a slug, ripping it from her mouth. Oh yes, they enter through the mouth - looking like lascivious Linda Blair tongues. Of course, Darwin is more than alluded to here. Using this framework for a parable of US presumption, Slither proves a...err.. biting satire. Gunn also employs the elements that typically sink contemporary horror to his advantage. Background information (like Leatherface's facial cancer or the Hill's inhabitants' nuclear radiation) here merely adds to the glutinous ridicule of the genre. And the shimmer of the CGI slugs is the best use of the technique that I can recall - because it looks terrible. This is a movie where the worse it looks, the better it works. Don't be fooled, nary a new idea lies in Slither but as an amalgam of genre tropes it add up to one of the more delightful movies I've seen so far this year. I'll be using this to forget my wretched experience with Basic instinct 2


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