Slithering On Over With Slither - 12/9

Here it is Thursday and I’m just now getting around to blogging about last weekend’s Freak Show. As we get closer to the holidays, as I’m sure many of you have experienced, time runs scarce.

My computer has frozen me out while it renders scenes from my latest animated movie, Frankenstein vs the Wolfman (in 3-D) which you can find out all sorts of details about by clicking the Daredevil Films link to the right. I’ve been staring at the original key poster art for the movie, which I mocked up before I even began production, for two years now (it’s my desktop wallpaper) and decided that something a bit more visually arresting was needed. So, this past Sunday, with a couple of spare hours (of which I could have devoted to tending to this blog) I designed a new poster, which isn't even available yet on the Daredevil Films site!

Our movie of the week was the unjustly overlooked Slither from writer / director James Gunn, a former Troma Films screenwriter who moved on to the big time with scripting duties on the two Scooby Doo movies, and earned his street cred with the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Slither stars Nathan Fillion, familiar to geeks everywhere as Capt. Mal Reynolds of Firefly/Serenity as Bill Pardy, the laid back sheriff of the sleepy, deer-hunting town of Wheelsy. Pardy has been carrying a torch for his unrequited love Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks), who is married to one of Wheelsy’s wealthiest citizens, Grant Grant (Michael Rooker). On a cloudless night, a meteor falls to earth carrying a parasitic lifeform which immediately burrows into Grant, taking possession of his body and giving him an insatiable hunger for meat (and later, dogs).

Only Grant’s love for Starla keeps him from impregnating her with his alien seed, but trampy Brenda (Brenda James) isn’t so lucky. Soon, she’s ballooned up into a giant incubator for a host of alien slugs while Pardy and his deputies seek out a metamorphosing Grant, who begins to sprout tentacles and a bad case of prickly heat.

The alien slugs, to anyone familiar with 1986’s Night of the Creeps knows, will turn anyone into a zombie if they happen to get inside their bodies, but in this case the zombies all share the collected consciousness of Grant Grant, who only wants to get Starla back.

Slither plays out as a tongue-in-cheek horror/comedy/sci-fi hybrid throwback to “fun” horror movies of the 1980’s like the aforementioned Night of the Creeps or Return of the Living Dead. Star Nathan Fillion is on his way to becoming the next Bruce Campbell, building up a considerable fan following for his quirky, genre related career choices. A game supporting cast, including Rooker (of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Mallrats) and Brian DePalma regular Greg Henry (who, as Mayor Jack MacReady – a name reference to John Carpenter’s The Thing – steals the show with nearly every scene he’s in).

Gunn’s movie is one of those “made by fans for fans”-type endeavors that consistently fail at the box office (like the other Fillion-starring sci-fi flick, Serenity) based on, I suspect, the absence of recognizable stars from Hollywood’s A-list. He’s also a smart, subversive filmmaker who also stuffs his films with in-jokes and nods to other horror/sci-fi films of the past.

Comparisons to Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps are inevitable, despite Gunn’s insistence that he had never seen Dekker’s ‘80’s classic. Both films betray a love of 50’s sci-fi flicks like The Blob and The Thing, and zombie flicks of the past – although it’s refreshing in this day and age to see a horror flick like this that doesn’t stack its cast full of teenagers. And a shout out must go out to the ultimate slimy slug movie, David Cronenberg’s They Came From Within, which Slither acknowledges in it’s bathtub scene.