Watching it again for the 12th time or so since buying the DVD, I
looked back fondly at all the reasons why this film works, even though
people try to compare it to others. I don’t agree with their
assumptions, putting this film on a pedestal of fantastic horror films
in the last 10 years. Here’s a list of sorts as to why I lovethis film.
1) I love having films that I saw in theaters that many others hadn’t but then champion on DVD. That’s how I was when I saw The Mist on DVD, even though I still haven’t met anyone who saw it in theaters. But when I saw Slither
in theaters, I was shocked at how refreshing it was that a film had the
guts (literally) to show comedy and violence without blinking an eye.
Gore and comedy is a hard dual edged sword. Don’t get me wrong, I laugh
at gore filled romps on film, but they usually intended a more horrific
tone. So I’ve been spreading the Slither love for years now.
James Gunn, writer/director extraordinaire. He’s one of those Hollywood
types that I hope I’m more aligned in becoming. Funny and foul mouthed,
a clever writer who jumped from the fun bowels of Troma with what many
refer to as Troma’s masterpiece Tromeo and Juliet, he went to writing gigs with the Scooby Doo films* and then wrote the better than it should have been remake of Dawn of the Dead**, he also helped with the films Lollilove and wrote the ‘better than Mystery Men‘ superhero comedy The Specials. I was excited when I had heard about Slither, even though people compared it to Night of the Creeps***.
It’s more than that, a film on a different level. So when I saw it and
the uninhibited directing style of Mr. Gunn with that 80’s sensibility
but in a recent setting. Plus he’s a hell of a nice guy who everyone
that works with him wants to work with again, as everyone will see with
his short episodes called James Gunn’s PG Porn and the XBOX Live exclusive film called Humanzee. He’ll be in the business for a very long time if there’s any justice in Hollywood.
Nathan Fillion or as everyone likes to call him, Bill ‘I’m a fucking
asshole’ Pardy. An understated actor who just oozes that ‘It’ factor
that most actors wish they could. I really can’t explain what it is,
but with his everyman good looks and that slight dumb-founded look he
sometimes gives, it’s just something that always makes me look forward
to seeing what he’s in next. Of course everyone knows him from his
iconic role on Firefly and Serenity of Captain Malcolm
‘Mal’ Reynolds, he used that and gained that cult status already early
on to help propel him into other roles, such as his co-starring role
alongside Keri Russell in Waitress. Recently his work on the online sensation of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog
got a lot of press (even though it was all about Neil Patrick Harris),
but he played the perfect asshole superhero where you actual root for
the villain. Okay, enough of my bowing down to Mr. Fillion, there’s
others I need to cheer.
4) Elizabeth Banks who is probably one
of the comedic actresses consistently great in every role I see her in.
An old time actress look, Hitchcockian blonde actually, she’s on the
rise in Hollywood, co-starring again with Seth Rogen in the new Kevin
Smith film Zack and Miri Make a Porno and the highly controversial new Oliver Stone film W. as Laura Bush, she started very small, in supporting roles but always knew how to get noticed on screen. When I saw her in The 40 Year Old Virgin,
her role only has a total of maybe 12 lines in 2 hour and 17 minute
movie, but yet she makes the most of it and I remember she made the
audience gasp, especially with that very un-sexual masturbation scene
at the end of the film. She’s also been in all 3 Spiderman films, but
people don’t realize it because her role is very minimal yet important
in the whole Spidey mythos as the character of Betty Brant. So her
being in Slither was big to me because I knew she could be
funny yet could act as well, and people need to give her credit for
acting very emotionally to a huge pulsating monster that is hideous,
yet you believe that she’s trying to seduce the monster so they could
get the upper hand. So she’s another one in the line of favorite actors
in this film that I always look forward to seeing in future films. And
I don’t mind being down on my knees for a woman who doesn’t mind
getting dirty in a film and has that slapstick mentality that is
starting to slowly make a comeback.
5) Gregg Henry. We all
know who he is, but we forget his name. I know his name because I’m the
type that knows trivia like that and plus he’s one of my favorite
character actors working today. He’s recently been in the great Eddie
Izzard/ Minnie Driver television series The Riches**** and as
usual plays ‘sleaze personified’ as I like to coin the term. I remember
when I first notice him in the greatly under-appreciated Payback but has gotten a new lease in life recently when it was allowed to finally get the director’s cut. He plays the mayor in Slither
and as usual steals every scene in which he’s in, just dirtying up the
screen with his patented style of sleaze he’s famous for, especially
right in the beginning when he’s introduced to the audience by cursing
out this driver in front of him in front of a mother and son in town.
And the way he just begs to be killed by Bill Pardy and Bill just
shoots him without a second look shows how much this guy was hated in
his own town.
6) The Rook. Michael Rooker, probably one guy
who always dominates the screen, no matter the film he’s in. In this he
plays the pleasantly named Grant Grant. An oafish guy who you can tell
means well, the older man who found his trophy wife in Elizabeth Banks’
Starla, he’s the one who starts the whole slithering mess. Meat is the
word of choice and his whole acting within a shell of a beast with a
bit of humanity left inside is fearless in its insanity. Most other
actors wouldn’t necessarily take this role seriously but Michael Rooker
actually just infuses his own self in this character and balances the
line of comedy and horror that you forget why you are laughing in the
first place. You are truly creeped out by him yet you feel truly bad
for him throughout the film, especially by his personification of the
alien and giving it the first time it’s fallen in love because it’s
been by itself for billions of years. Just a brilliant portrayal that’s
been ruined in other films before. And there’s nothing scarier than The
Rook when he has a cleanly shaved head.
7) Air Supply’s Every Woman in the World, which is the love song of choice for Grant and Starla. A creepy song which seems more along the lines of stalker (Every Breath You Take
anyone?). Yet it works because it takes a whole other meaning within
the film, especially with Grant’s alien monster finally realizing what
love is with this one woman. Never thought I’d get misty eyed with an
Air Supply song. Thanks a lot James Gunn. Now I have to shoot myself in
the skull. But first I’ll watch the DVD one more time with commentary
8) MastersFX, their work on this particular film was
pretty much the key to making it a believable alien monster film.
Working 5 months in advance, which is quite normal in the special
effects field, they do the proper mixing of practical effects and
digital effects, melding the two where you’re not always sure if it’s
actually filmed on the set or if it was done on a computer, and that’s
the best way to do it in today’s film making. Try to check their resume
on their website at www.mastersfx.com.
9) The DVD set alone
makes it a worthwhile cause to rewatch the film as many times I have so
far. The extras are plentiful, especially with all the ribs against
Nathan Fillion and their undying hatred for him. The commentary is one
of the better ones, which is with James Gunn and Nathan Fillion, a very
fulfilling and funny commentary track. I appreciate a good commentary
track that makes rewatching the film worthwhile and not a chore. It’s
very honest to the point of him not liking the CGI in certain scenes. I
really like that he doesn’t hold any punches back and still has a laugh
at his own expense.
9 reasons? Usually when you do a list
there’s always a 10th reason, a Top 10 if you will. But I try not to
play by the rules of society and/or David Lettermen, so I’ll end it at
9. Which is a whole mess load of reasons as it is. I love this film to
death and love to spread the love to everyone I can. More people need
to list this film as an essential film in horror. In today’s film
world, usually the best horror films come from the indies and other
countries, so this film coming from a major studio was a breath of
fresh air. But yet again, was it pushed enough? Usually a horror film
opening in March wouldn’t do well, and in this case it was true. But
DVD is the new medium to get a wider audience.
* I’ve never held it against him.
An effective remake which re-imagined one of my favorite horror films
of all time and actually made it its own movie. Kudos to that.
It was actually more in line with Cronenberg’s line of films dealing
with the battle from within, the body’s own monsters, like in Shivers, Rabid and The Fly.
**** I don’t have cable anymore, but check it out on FX. I still need to pick up the first season set on DVD.