Octoberween: “Slither” is Gross, Funny, and Charmingly Weird

While you were eating breakfast this morning, or maybe dinner last night, Rooster Illusion was in a cave in the Himalayas cracking his knuckles (even though his Mom told him not to) and getting down to business. Note: His Mom told him that when he was younger. Rooster Illusion does not live with his parents.

What business was Rooster Illusion getting down to, you ask? Why, the business of preparing the world for Halloween, one horror movie review at a time. Because that is what Rooster Illusion does, and you know it. There are stupid questions. That was one of them.

So smarten up, dim the lights, and get some pumpkin pie or something. Maybe put on a party hat or a Dracula cape. It’s about to get wild up in here.

Universal Studios

Slither (2006):

The Plot: A meteor carrying an alien “sentient virus” lands in a small town in rural America. Soon, prominent citizen Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) has mutated into a dog-eating squidbeast and a plague of space-slugs are turning people into zombies. It’s up to handsome Police Chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) and Grant’s lovely, loving wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) to defeat the alien and save the town. Will they manage to kill an enemy that’s already destroyed whole worlds? Will Bill ever confess his love for Starla? Will this small town ever be the same? You should probably be able to guess the answers to all of those questions.

That plot should sound familiar. If it doesn’t, then you’re probably just a pod person disguised as a real person, and you should know that I am coming for you. If it does, then congratulations. You are a human being, and you get to help me hunt pod people tonight.

It would be a mistake to go into this movie expecting generic horror fare. Yes, the plot combines well-worn story elements, but Slither is more than just another tired Aliens and Zombies Attack a Small Town gore-fest. You’re nodding, but for all the wrong reasons. I said in the title that this is a funny movie. Now you’re probably—you can stop nodding now, it’s unsettling. Now you’re probably thinking that Slither is some kind of satire, poking fun at stupid horror conventions with a sharpened stick of ironic wit. Well, grow up. Not everything has to be ironic. This isn’t the 90s, or your freshman year of college. Slither is a horror movie. A horror movie that is also funny. Horror and comedy, merging to create a stronger, squid-like being made of guts and laughter. Can you dig it?

If you’re reading this, then you can, indeed, dig it. If you’re not, then may God have mercy on your soul. But those of you who can dig this unholy union of horror and comedy deserve an explanation to back up the outlandish claims of the last paragraph. Ladies and gentlemen, put on your film critic hats.

Universal Pictures
Disgusting things.

As I said, Slither is a horror movie. Scary, disgusting things happen to people in this film. But many of these disgusting things are paired with dark humor and quirky, likeable characters. Actually, I guess that’s pretty abnormal. Most horror movies are about totally unsympathetic idiots, like teenagers or adults that are more attractive than I am. But director/writer James Gunn’s script populates Wheelsy with fairly charming, sometimes foul-mouthed oddballs. Well, often foul-mouthed, but not excessively so, which is nice. I’m always up for some well-placed cussing, but it sure does get tiring when it’s overused. I’m looking at you, New York City and everything that Kevin Smith has ever touched. He’s like King Midas, but with sex jokes and swear words (that’s the name of my third album!).

Leading this group of likeable oddballs is Nathan Fillion, playing pretty much every other character he’s known for playing, which is fine by me. He’s charming and flawed and human. It’s as fun to see him try to keep his calm when surrounded by alien slug things as it is watching him try to impress Starla at a hunting season kick-off party. I guess what I’m basically saying is this: Hey, nerds, this movie has Malcolm Reynolds in it! Seriously, though. His character is well-developed, and he’s got some great dialogue.

Universal Pictures
You’re all okay with this, right?

Equally likeable—drinking game idea: take a shot every time I use that word—is Elizabeth Banks, playing a loving wife and resourceful woman. Well, shit. Is that a strong female character in a horror movie? I do believe it is. Not just strong, but…that’s right: well-developed. Man, this movie has everything. And then some, disembodied voice. And then some.

In addition to well-written leads and quirky tertiary characters—including Gregg Henry as the wonderfully unhinged Mayor—there’s a lot of blood, a seriously gross-looking man/alien squidbeast thing, a zombie deer, and another strong female character (Tania Saulnier). Kylie may start out as a screaming, naked teenage girl, but there’s much more to her than that. Like Starla, she’s resourceful, and she seems to have a very good understanding of how people work. Good job, Slither, for having so many likeable characters. Now everybody do a shot. I’m just kidding. Drinking games are dangerous, kids. When you play beer pong, everybody loses. It may not affect your future in any noticeable way, but trust me, your standards don’t need to slip any lower.

See? There are classier ways to get drunk.

Now we enter the wrapping-up portion of this review. I am wrapping it up! You should leave here knowing three things:

1) This is just the greatest blog, and you will be coming back for SciFriday and my review of Looper this weekend.

2) Slither is a horror movie. So if you really hate gross things, but my review made the movie sound so good that you just had to see it, don’t blame me if you don’t enjoy it as much as I did. Also, it was not my idea to have a large spaghetti dinner while watching this. Note: I am suggesting that you don’t eat while you watch this. I mean, popcorn is probably fine. I had hot cocoa. That was also fine.

3) Slither is funny, entertaining, and very well-made. If you are okay with both horror and the sound of your own laughter, then you will be okay with this movie.

This concludes part one of Octoberween: Countdown to Terror. Tune in next Wednesday for Rooster Illusion’s spook-tacular review of whatever Rooster Illusion is reviewing next Wednesday. Not knowing is half the fun, right?

2 thoughts on “Octoberween: “Slither” is Gross, Funny, and Charmingly Weird

  1. Pingback: SciFridays: “Primal” (2010) | Rooster Illusion

  2. Pingback: SciFridays: “Grabbers” (2012) | Rooster Illusion

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