A return to the killer ‘B’
You know what was ballsy about this movie? Someone saw Night of the Creeps and said, “I can make that funnier and scarier.” And maybe it takes someone like James Gunn to pull that off. If you’ve ever seen Night of the Creeps, you know it’s one of the all time greatest intentionally bad movie. In fact, it was one of the first. The late 80’s into the 90’s was all about revolutionizing horror as an industry. Movies like Critters and Leprechaun were proving that horror didn’t have to be good, to be entertainment. Directors like Mark Jones and Fred Dekker realized that half of the movies they enjoyed as kids, were actually garbage, and that’s half the reason for loving them. B-Horror helped define the industry.
So, while directors like Carpenter were taking the old classics and giving them a serious upgrade, directors like Jones and Dekker were defining the ‘New B.’ What made Slither so damn right, was that it carried the traditions of the ‘New B’ into the millennium. And THANK FUCKING GOD!!! 1999-2009 had to have been the worst fucking decade in horror! Gems like Dawn of the Dead and Slither were few and far between. They were keeping the industry alive, and, interestingly enough, they were remakes. And, like Dawn of the Dead, Slither was actually better than the original.
Don’t get me wrong, Night of the Creeps was fantastic. It was funny, cheesy, made fun of it’s own damn self, and still managed to be pretty good for horror. But Slither just had better acting, better FX, a more interesting plot, an even cooler creature, and was every bit as funny. The only thing Slither didn’t have, was the capacity to poke fun at itself and the genre as a whole. That was slightly disappointing. They had all the proper tropes that make for good riffing, it would have been kinda fun if it riffed itself from time to time.
I mean, the movie opens with a meteor crashing into the planet. And what did we learn about that? It’s the perfect signifier for the audience to suspend all disbelief. Basically, any movie after The Blob (1988), if your monster rides in on a meteor, everyone knows not to take the plot seriously.
Here’s the thing though. You don’t have to be a Riffer to enjoy this movie! Horror Heads and even general adult audiences will likely enjoy this movie.
So, what really sets this movie apart from Night of the Creeps, is the gestation of the parasite. Night of the Creeps went for simplicity and literally delivered the parasite as an alien biological weapon. But the little fucker in Slither is a planet killing hive mind. It’s almost cosmic horror. So the old parasites from the original just eat brains and reproduce like a normal parasite. This one is fucking interstellar. It has to get off planet and out into space. That means the main parasite -the hive mind- has to operate in several stages. There’s the hive mind itself, which takes a host and alters its biological chemistry, mutating the host to start producing it’s secondary function. The secondary function is to add minds to its collective. It does this by impregnating a secondary host with worm like parasites which are an extension of its consciousness. These are exactly like the worms from the original Night of the Creeps. They enter through the mouth and take over the host’s brain. Unlike the original, they don’t eat the brain, they simply zombify the host, using it to collect new secondary hosts, and food for biomass. The primary host then begins to collect biomass by either eating, or reabsorbing secondary hosts, as sort of a third stage. This leads us to the fourth and final stage, collecting enough biomass to expel itself into space.
That, is some fucking fascinating National Geographic shit right there. James Gunn didn’t just shlock out some lame B movie excuse for brain eating zombie parasites. He created a whole damn system of parasitism. And that’s what truly sets this apart from Night of the Creeps. This might have been intentionally silly, it might have gone for all the feel of the ‘New B,’ but it was actually pretty serious horror. Gunn could have, in all honesty, made this a seriously dark horror movie. This could have easily matched John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). He chose not to. He wanted to make the ‘New B’ for the new millennia.
Listen, this movie deserves WAY more credit than it gets. It only barely pushed itself out of cult status back when it came out, and it’s better than that.
Give it a shot!
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