Today's Pick: Slither (2006)
Before he conquered the box office with a sentient tree and a talking raccoon, James Gunn was one of the horror genre's newest rock stars. Coming up under the independent spirit of Troma Films' Lloyd Kaufman, Gunn had better training than most when he helmed his feature directorial debut, Slither. It's pretty apparent that the guy was destined for greatest, even form the outset, because Slither is a horror fan's wet dream (that wetness is mostly alien slug slime and blood).
The setup of the movie (alien being crashes on Earth, begins a viral takeover of a small town) is a great homage to horror films of the 50's, but its focus on humor and effects feels like a decidedly 80's throwback. There's tons of humor throughout the film, reminding me of one of my all time favorite films, Tremors. The laughs are amplified by delightful performances from Internet nerd demigod Nathan Fillion, the under-appreciated Gregg Henry, the smart and smokin' Elizabeth Banks, and a landmark turn by Michael Rooker as the film's villain, Grant Grant.
Even though he is the antagonist, Grant Grant is a character that you feel real sympathy for. Even when he's turned into a Society-esque shunting beast, you can't help but understand his love for his wife, Starla (Elizabeth Banks). What's also great is that Starla isn't some conniving trollop or floozy. She's incredibly intelligent, and even though her husband has transformed into an extraterrestrial pus-covered tentacle beast, she still loves him, until she knows that he must be destroyed. It adds a level of emotional weight that you don't often find in the splatstick genre.
That being said, the effects in this film are a ton of goopy fun. For anyone who loves great creature design and a physical execution of that design, Slither is perfect. While there's certainly plenty of CGI to be had, a lot of the big effects are done practically and they work like gory gangbusters.
There's a sect of horror fans who dismiss Slither outright due to its basic premise of zombifying space slugs being fairly close to Night of the Creeps (hmmm... I wonder if that's going to show up later in the month?). I feel sorry for those people, since Slither is just as much a celebration of the horror genre as Creeps is. The world is big enough for both of them, and they both have their unique charms. Definitely hunt down Slither, and in a couple days, maybe watch Night of the Creeps? ...Spoiler alert, I guess.
Tomorrow's movie is much less gross and way more family friendly. In fact, I'd say it's one of the best kid movies I've seen in a while! See you then!
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