Do the names Roger Corman, John Carpenter and Wes Craven ring any of your bells like they ring mine? These master “horror” filmmakers revel in a trough of second-rate films which, due to their low production quality and lack of star power, make them so hokey that it’s laughable. Other elements that horror can be counted on for are short plotlines, shower scenes and bucket loads of gore. Audiences eat it up, however horror walks a tightrope between ridiculous and terrifying. Recently “Slither” has stepped up to the horror plate having full knowledge of all things scary. “Slither” is not quite a horror classic, but it is the tongue-and-cheek approach to dialogue within its terrifying plotline that’s gets “Slither” the big gold star on its report card.
Aside from the almost pornographic title, “Slither” is straightforward enough. We know what to expect before the lights go down. One night, a comet from outer space lands in Grant Grant’s (Micheal Rooker) backyard. When Grant goes to investigate he becomes the first victim in the long string of bloody, agonizing alien takeovers. Rooker is almost perfectly cast as the evil older husband of Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks). Grant comes back from the woods under the control of the carnivorous aliens and begins to secretly prepare the aliens’ plan for world domination, in his basement. As the alien infection gets worse and worse for Grant, large pussing legions begin to appear over Grant’s face. One can’t help but let out a little giggle at the ludicrously plastic, endlessly dripping alien limbs that twitch atop Rooker’s bald head. Slowly the town folk begin to get suspicious as all the pets and cows, around town suspiciously die. All the latex dogs and cows turned inside out are first-rate props.
After receiving a call from Starla explaining how Grant has disappeared, Sheriff Pardy (Nathan Fillion) decides to get to the bottom of this mystery. As the trap is set, all watch as the highly mutated Grant appears one night, as what could only be described as a tyrannosaurus squid monster. The posse follows Grant back to a barn where they stumble upon the aliens’ plan. Grant has gotten a local woman pregnant with the alien offspring. The woman is literally the size of a barn when the bloody worms rip open the egg sack that used to be Ms. Gutierrez (Brenda James). The computer-generated worms slither off into the night and infect many of the local townspeople. Miraculously, only Starla, Pardy and town mayor MacReady (Greg Henry) survive. MacReady is a loud, spineless coward whose reality in the face of the such horror of an alien attack provides most of the comedic lines. As the trio runs across town, they bump into Margaret, who narrowly escaped the worms attacking her in her bathtub (hubba hubba). Margaret explains that while she was being attacked she psychically saw that the aliens plan to take over and that they need to find the monstrous Grant to have any chance of saving humanity. This film obeys werewolf rules, if you kill the source of all the evil anyone under this curse is freed from control. Eventually the quartet makes it back to Starla’s house, where Grant has now secreted himself into the living room floor. After Pardy helplessly tries to blow up the monster, Starla tries to reason with the remaining human side of Grant. Beauty melts the beast providing Pardy one last chance to destroy the monster with a propane tank. Our conclusion comes quickly and quite messily as Grant explodes in a goopy pop.
This “B” film is no more important than other cheap single-thrill horror film. Anyone with X-ray specs could see that this film wanted viewers to have a good time. Even the tagline reads, “What Ever You Do … Don’t Scream.” “Slither” has a few jumps, which might make you hold your loved ones a little closer, and some laughs that might make Mr. Pibb squirt out of your nose. Instead of apologizing for what it is, “Slither” basks in the glory of second best.