I’ve made no secret about my love for James Gunn’s Slither, from my Remember This to the near constant references I drop in at least 1/3rd of the articles I write for this site, it’s pretty clear that I’m a die hard fan.
Simply put, Slither is a near perfect horror comedy that everyone should see. It’s not just the way it perfectly straddles its competing tones that makes it unique – it also has an undeniable warmth, you care for the characters and it’s a world that you constantly want to revisit.
As I was saying earlier this week, it’s always a joy to focus on something you love rather than tear something apart. So with that in mind, head below for 5 Reasons Slither Is One Of The Greatest Horror Comedies Of All Time!!!
The entire town of Wheelsy, South Carolina (as portrayed by various parts of Canada) feels authentic and lived in. From the bum with the cleft palate to the tragicomedy of a woman pouring her heart into “The Crying Game” in front of an empty karaoke club. The smoking preacher. The annual Deer Cheer dance. It’s a town where everyone knows each other, not just their neighbor’s names but what makes them tick. From the crossing guard who intuits what Bill Pardy wants and desires to the short-hand between practically every character, we get the sense that this is a real community. Wheelsy is reminiscent of a lot of the small towns from 80’s Amblin films like Gremlins and is equally fleshed out.
The trials and tribulations of Bill Pardy and Starla Grant are alternated well throughout the first act, and right about the point where they team up to find Grant Grant the film introduces a new protagonist in Tania Saulnier’s Kylie Strutemyer. She doesn’t make a real entrance until about 37 minutes into the film, but there’s an entire set piece given over to her struggle to escape from her farm house. The whole affair is set-up like a slasher kill – drop a character in and kill them off – but proves to be much more . First, there’s the epically victorious bathtub battle with the slug, then the death of her family and their subsequent zombification. After she finally gets away from the house the film manages to streamline her into the primary narrative and we get three heroes to root for.
A SYMPATHETIC ANTAGONIST
I’ve written a lot about how touching (and hilarious) Starla’s attempts to stay true to the rapidly mutating Grant Grant are, but I’m not sure I’ve mentioned just how much I appreciate Grant Grant himself. While he’s kind of a d*ck in the beginning, he’s pretty far from being an outright villain. Rejected and horny he heads out for a night on the town, only to turn down an easy tryst because he knows Starla gets worried when he stays out too late.
Remarkably, he gets even more sympathetic once he’s taken over by the alien life form. Since the consciousness that now inhabits Grant Grant’s body has never experienced love before, it’s almost tragic to watch him get a taste of it through Grant’s memories (and ongoing experiences like make-up sex with Starla) and then wrestle with his own competing directives after the fact. On the one hand, he must kill and consume as much “meat” as possible until the planet is wiped out and what [seems like] a hive-mind is achieved. On the other, he doesn’t want to let go of the newfound tenderness his marriage has provided him.
CREATURE DESIGN AND BIOLOGY
Yes, we’d seen some similar stuff with slugs in Night Of The Creeps, but I’d argue that the logic of the creatures is more thought-out in Slither. Not only do we know their objectives, we become familiar with their weaknesses, abilities and life-cycles in a richer way. And the manner in which everything ties back into Grant Grant’s consciousness gives Slither the ability to unleash a wide array of monsters on Wheelsy while maintaining the sense of urgency behind the hunt for its primary antagonist.
Slither manages to feel like its racing along for the majority of its 90+ minute runtime, but it does so without sacrificing character or detail. In fact, the film takes plenty of breaks from the action and gives the viewer an opportunity to breath, and its judiciousness in this balance is commendable. Without all of these detours and asides, I’d revisit Wheelsy far less often.