Universal Home Video
Cast: Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Featurettes
I had seen advertisements for "Slither" countless times and then Universal sent over the HD-DVD version of the film for review something drew me to it. I usually do not care much for contemporary horror films since they have all degraded to mindless and gratuitous teenie flicks, but something about "Slither" made me check it out. I am glad I did. This film has cult classic written all over.
A meteoroid crashes into a wooded area surrounding a redneck small town somewhere in the US. With it comes an alien creature that begins infesting local townspeople and turns them into mutant zombies, controlled through the hive mind of the original invader.
Simple enough story, right. Simple enough to make a bad movie one would think, but interestingly, "Slither" is so much more entertaining and gratifying than you may expect that it came as a surprise to me.
"Slither" was written and directed by James Gunn. While not entirely a newbie, Gunn has actually written the "Dawn Of The Dead" remake and the "Scooby Doo" feature films and also used to write and direct some schlocky Troma flicks in the 90s. With all that in mind, "slither" should not come as a surprise to anyone. It is a film you just can't take seriously and it never takes itself seriously either.
The thing about "Slither" is that it can easily become a guilty pleasure. It is not a good film by any stretch of imagination but at the same time it shows that it's not bad out of ineptitude but by deliberation. From campy one-liners stating the obvious, to illogical events and behavior all the way to the hive-mind concept, everything in this movie screams camp.
At the same time the film uses splatter so excessively at times that involuntarily I felt the screen can no longer contain it and it would invariably spill into my living room. It is then quickly counterpointed by some weird event or funny moment that defines the atmosphere of the film as a whole.
James Gunn clearly knew what he was doing and treads the territory safely. He is borrowing from the best camp classics there are and adds his own touch to it. For the longest time the film reminded me nostalgically of the "Critters" films until during the last 30 minutes it turned into an all-out zombie splatterfest that should please even the most avid Fangoria reader. But there are so many other references to other great horror film in here that Universal could almost have created a Trivia Pop-Up track for it.
Universal presents the film in a wonderfully clean high definition presentation on this HD-DVD/DVD combo disc. The 1080p transfer restores the movie's original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio in glorious and gory detail. No defects or blemishes are evident anywhere and the print is entirely free of grain. Colors are bold and strong, making for a very atmospheric viewing with deep, ominous shadows. The level of detail is very good, as you would expect from a new movie like this. While it never looks absolutely staggering the way some other transfers stand out, "Slither" is a good high definition presentation without flaws of any sort.
As audio tracks Universal has provided 5.1 channel Dolby Digital Plus tracks in English, French and Spanish. The audio is aggressive and makes constant use of the surround channels. During the action moments of the film the sound stage is wide and incredibly aggressive. The frequency response is making sure the track has the punch necessary to drive home the actions and offers up solid basses and clear high ends. The mix is balanced and dialogue is never drowned out by the music or sound effects. I find it notable that the movie features a remarkably good score. Unlike most contemporary horror movies it does not revert to some trash metal score but instead incorporates a nice "traditional" orchestral score by Tyler Bates.
The HD-DVD side of the release does not contain any extras so you will have to flip over the disc to its DVD side in order to enjoy these bonus materials provided there. I only wish studios would stop doing these pointless and innate combo discs, really.
Among the supplements you will find Deleted Scenes as well as a number of featurettes covering the production and taking you backstage during the film's production.
"Slither" is easily the campiest horror film I've seen in years – probably since "Eight Legged Freaks." Considering how many fans the camp genre has, I am sure there will be many fans out there looking for a film like "Slither" even if the rest of the world will think it's just plain silly. "Slither" is film that shouldn't be taken seriously as all it wants to do is entertain, make you wiggle in disgust and giggle at the same time. And at that it succeeds wonderful, making for an entertaining 90 minutes. The $39.98 price tag may cause sticker shock with many people though, considering that this is an unproven, nameless film, in essence, without box office pull.