A meteorite lands in the woods outside the small town of Wheelsy. On the same night, local businessman Grant Grant (Micheal Rooker) heads to a bar after his glamorous young wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) rejects his sexual advances. Dallying in the woods with another woman, Grant is attacked by an alien parasite, which leaps into his body and slowly transforms him into a ravenous, hideous monster. Needing fresh victims to stay alive, Grant embarks on a killing spree while spawning hundreds of slugs to find new hosts. With the residents of Wheelsy turning into crazed bloodsucking maniacs, it's up to Starla and local police chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) to save the town and, it would seem, the whole world from this ghastly horror.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
Suddenly it seems contemporary horror movie makers have discovered the spirit of 70s and 80s fright flicks, and the genre is all the better for it. Slither is an honourable amalgamation of several dozen spookers of days gone by, and while it is by no means necessary to be a student of horror to enjoy it, those familiar with David Cronenberg's Shivers (1974), Brian Yuzna's Society (1989), Frank Henelotter's Basket Case (1982), Jim Muro's Street Trash (1987) and Harry Thomason's hilarious Z-grade atrocity The Day It Came To Earth (1979) are sure to have fun playing "spot the influence".
Though not quite sharply humorous enough to rank with top-tier revisionist fare such as Lake Placid (1999), Slither is still a tasty item for anyone sick of super-sadistic gore-fests like Saw, Hostel and those revolting films carrying the name Rob Zombie on the credits. Director James Gunn - a graduate of Troma Films and writer of the adequate Dawn Of The Dead remake - knows the territory and applies just the right amount of grue to this cheerfully preposterous tale.
You know you're in good hands when the opening scene involves a couple of doofus cops sitting in their patrol car making inane conversation while listening to Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart". It gets better as we get around the hick town of Wheelsy, where most of the residents look like they're only a genetic stone's throw away from the mutant family in The Hills Have Eyes. Everyone, that is, except hunky cop Bill (Nathan Fillion) and local hottie Starla (Elizabeth Banks), whose go-figure marriage to bull-headed Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) is happily annulled when he transforms at first into something resembling Belial the Basket Case monster on steroids, and then finally into a slathering mass of distended limbs, pulsating organs and conjoined fleshy bits evoking memories of the "shunting" scenes in Society.
It's all good grisly stuff, done without an excess of gore and with the good cheer of a cast keeping straight faces throughout. Squeamish viewers may be tested once the slimy slugs slither into the bathtubs of teenage girls, but thankfully Gunn knows when to pull back and leave the high disgust factor side of horror to lesser talents. The only disappointment is the humour. There are some nice cracks at boot-scootin' country bumpkins and monster fighting techniques, but too often character-based jokes fall flat. A case in point is corrupt Mayor MacReady (Gregg Henry), whose constant stream of four-letter words is supposed to guarantee laughs simply because he's the authority figure. Still, Slither emerges as a pretty good drive-in movie and if Gunn can iron out the bugs in his satirical writing, his future work promises much.
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CAST: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Tania Saulnier
PRODUCER: Paul Brooks, Eric Newman,
DIRECTOR: James Gunn
SCRIPT: James Gunn
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gregory Middleton
EDITOR: John Axelrad
MUSIC: Tyler Bates
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew Neskoromny
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 18, 2006
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