Over the weekend I got into a debate with Lonmonster and Mr. Disgusting on Twitter. It all started when Lonnie asserted that Slither was a remake of Night Of The Creeps and pretty soon we got into discussing which one of them might be the better film. A lot of folks I respect have mentioned the Creeps vs. Slither thing to me over the years, so I figured I’d finally weigh in with my thoughts here.
First of all (and with all due respect to my colleagues), I’d like to say that Slither is in no way a remake of Night Of The Creeps. Yes, I will concede the point that the biology of the slug creatures is quite similar (especially when you consider the fact that they “possess” people). Aside from that though, I don’t see a whole lot of similarity. The slugs in James Gunn’s film are part of a host of creatures that all tie into the consciousness of the creature that has taken hold of Michael Rooker’s Grant Grant. While the slug induced infections in both films threaten world domination, the psychology of the creatures is wildly different. The creature inside Grant Grant is a world conqueror, we see through its memories that it has effortlessly toppled more feral planets. But the stumbling block on Earth is that it has to confront one of the elements that makes us well… human. Love.
Grant Grant is feeling love for the first time, which is ultimately his undoing. When he makes love with Starla (Elizabeth Banks), he cries tears of joy at this utterly unfamiliar feeling. Of course he’s still going to be the world conquering creature that he is (and he kills plenty of people in the film) but his affection for Starla is palpable enough to be his downfall. In a way he’s a malevolent, viral, version of King Kong. And the blonde is his weakness.
After that the differences between the two films become even more vast. Night Of The Creeps is more of a collegiate romp, whereas Slither remarkably makes a vast canvas out of a small town. By shifting protagonists in each act, we’re allowed to spend considerable time with the residents of Wheelsy. From cops to farm families, adults to children, rich to poor, politicians to trailer trash. In fact, it seems as though we don’t see any college age characters, a demographic that populates the vast majority of the Creeps cast (Tom Atkins deservedly legendary performance aside).
And, while I love Night Of The Creeps, I’d have to argue that Slither is overall the better film. Both of them are underrated horror comedies, but Slither really sticks the landing. It’s my feeling that Creeps sort of loses momentum at the end. Around the time J.C. tragically checks out (an admirably bold move that unfortunately serves to undercut the fun vibe of the film) I begin to feel my interest waning somewhat. The image of Chris and Cindy armed with a shotgun and flamethrower outside the sorority house is a great one, but the actual payoff of the sequence is sort of slight.
Slither, on the other hand is able to keep us invested all the way until the end credits. Starla offering herself to the monstrous Grant Grant in the name of saving their marriage emotionally reinvests us before the final, violent showdown. The image of the encroaching “zombies” dropping suddenly when their link to Grant’s consciousness is terminated is fantastic. And the final shot of Starla, Bill and Tania limping away is incredibly satisfying.
Both films are great horror comedies, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for disagreeing with me, but Slither sticks to my ribs more. And it’s most certainly not a remake. Disagree? Have a preference? Vote in the poll below!