SlitherDirected by: James Gunn
Starring: Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks
Buy it from the Creature Co.!

Review by HAM

EAT MY HATE.

Ahhhh…horror fans. I hate you.

You’re the kids who petition for a new cut of Halloween 6 (while sane people know that there’s no way to cut Halloween 6
and make it remotely good)…you’re the kids who line up to take shots at
every lukewarm horror remake in production…then line up for it when it
hits the fucking megaplex (I’ve not even seen a trailer for the thing,
but I’d bat the rantmanny that Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning doesn’t deserve one-tenth of its box office – it doesn’t even have Erica Leerhsen in it)…

But you had a chance to tell at least one studio that we support great genre projects…and you dropped the ball.

Eight million? Eight million dollars?

For fuck’s sake – I just looked. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Quickening has made forty mil. Now if we were talking Jeff Burr’s Leatherface, I’d be proud – but this? This hurts.

The Grudge 2 – also a turd, I’d wager – thirty-one. Contemplate that on the Tree of Woe. Please.

A SECOND CHANCE.

Now is the time to make things right. Slither hits DVD on Tuesday.

The flick is – well, you already know. Or – since I just mentioned its eight million dollar box office haul – maybe you don’t.

THE MOVIE

I wrote a review of the film when it made its cinematic bow, and while I stand by the text (which you should go read right now),
I will say that – upon my first video viewing – I came to realize that
the alien’s biology does actually make total sense. Don’t know why I
didn’t get that the first go – maybe it was that the movie just blew by
so fast – but I needed to say it. It’s not the only thing illuminated
for me by the DVD. As fun as Slither was on the big screen (twice), the movie plays even better at home.

One
of the things I’ve come to absolutely adore about the film is its
ever-changing tone. That it doesn’t hold fast to genre conventions
means that it can smack you with a “boo”…or make for a slow burn
seat-squirm with no prior advertisement. You don’t know what Slither
has in store because this is not a lock-step horror piece. It owes just
as much to the unsettling psychological creepishness of Cronenberg as
it does to the frying-pan-to-the-face comedy of Sam Raimi or the
crazed, unending splatter of Peter Jackson.

And
yeah – the film isn’t the most original thing ever made, but since it’s
engineered to be a throwback, that’s not meant as disrespect. What Slither
does do – that so many of the seemingly never-ending spate of
retread/remake/throwbacks DON’T – is become one of the most exciting,
energetic, hilarious, vile, cool, and joyous genre viewing experiences
of the last decade. The film is smart and subtle and arch and cheesy
and everything you want a film to be.

And maybe I should piss off with that “genre” qualifier. That’s like someone telling you that Star Trek: Part Whatever is a good “Star Trek” film. Comparing Star Trek films to Star Trek films is the only way you can go – comparing them to anything else only hammers home how much they suck.

The above statement does not include Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

So Slither’s
not a good “genre” film. It’s a good FILM. Period. That the movie
really comes to life on video (like many of the films what inspired it)
is charming, if ultimately bittersweet.

9 out of 10

VIDEO

I’m
no home-cinema aficionado, but when played back via my OPPO 971H,
upconverted to 1080i and sent to my 50” Toshiba DLP monitor via HDMI
connection – it looked pretty nice.

9 out of 10

SOUND

The
audio is nicely spaced so the rear speakers get a workout. So many
horror films live and die by sound design and soundtrack – and both rip
it up herein.

Granted – I have a crappy sound system. I blew all my dough on the TV…

9 out of 10

SPECIAL FEATURES

There
are sets of deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary – and
while Gunn laments the loss of one scene in particular (wherein
Rooker’s alien being compiles and files samples of our world’s finest
meat products), the scene I mourn features a defining speech by The
Long One (Gunn’s Stephen King-esque moniker for the monster) – a
monologue that rivals Hugo Weaving’s “Perfect World” speech in the
first Matrix (the only decent part of that film) for
creating a villain to believe in. When this same scene is viewed
alongside the Grant Monster’s romantic interlude with Starla – we get
one of the most flawlessly executed “Tortured Universal Monsters” ever.
That scene needed to stay in. There’s a cute bit wherein even more
characters from horror history are name-dropped (I played it back twice
just to make sure I heard “Annie Knowby” correctly). One extension –
the conversation between Bill Pardy and Starla – is charming (if a tad
too forward).

Slither’s
commentary track finds an awesome balance between the technical, the
philosophical, the anecdotal, and the inside (and having said that, I’m
Bill Pardy). At one point, Gunn makes note of the deliberate pace of
the first act. You don’t feel it in terms of run-time – but it plays
with your expectations. Even the cutting style changes as the film
moves forward, so what was once almost Howard Hawkish (does that work
as an adjective?) in its creeping fear turns more John Carpenter (or is
that still Hawks?) and finally goes completely off-the-rails gonzo. As
I’ve stated before, Gunn wears his influences on both sleeves – but
that he mixes, matches, and mashes seems his defining trait. That he
talks about arguing with the studio over going over the top with some
of Tyler Bates’ awesome neo-Herrmann score gives you an idea of how
confusing this hybridized hodgepodge must have seemed to the suits.
That he performs his high wire act is crazy. That it works is fantastic
- that we get some insight into how it works is icing. Nathan Fillion
joins us via satellite, and it feels like listening in on friends
talking about cool stuff.

Unca
Lloyd Kaufmann’s on hand (and hand-held) to traipse about the set as he
preps for a cameo. This was also an extra on the Troma Team Release of
Jenna Fischer’s sinister and hilarious Lollilove. It’s interesting to
note that Kaufmann mentioned that a great deal of the footage he shot
was confiscated by studio security – so it’s extra funny that it ends
up on the Universal disc.

Nathan
Fillion echoes Lloyd’s Pi-style presentation, as he too has concocted a
featurette wherein we explore the set with him as our guide.

These
tables are then turned in “Who is Bill Pardy?” as the cast and crew
take turns butchering fandom’s beloved Fillion. And man, do I mean
butchering…

There’s
a solid featurette on the film’s blend of practical effects and CG,
which at times, seems to mess with you as if Spike Jonze or Christopher
Guest is in on it. As a matter of fact, almost all of the special
features are possessed of the demented sense of humor that seems to be
James Gunn’s trademark. When he states – on Nathan Fillion’s set tour,
as I recall, that Slither is, for him, not unlike being choked by a
giant cock that he’s determined to suck off – you realize this is not
your garden variety Electronic Press Kit shit.

There’s
a how-to on fake blood (also cock-eyed), a gag reel (also demented),
and a few more tidbits. I had feared the film’s underperforming at the
box office would lead to a less-than-robust selection of bonus stuff.
I’m pleased I was wrong.

10 out of 10

THE PACKAGE

I’m sure it’s fantastic. If it’s good enough for Pam Beesley…

The
DVD art is a revamped take on the theatrical key art – the film’s
signature image of adorable fighter Tania Saulnier about to undergo
some gross shit. It’s nice.

8 out of 10

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

There you have it. Now go buy it. Now. NOW!