MARCH 24, 2008
A friend practically forced me to watch Slugs, on the grounds that it was directed by the same guy who directed Pieces, a film apparently no one besides me owns on DVD (Eli Roth kept claiming it was never even made available. I bought it at Best Buy for Christ’s sake!). Needless to say, I was curious to see what else this guy had up his pseudonymous sleeve (his name is Juan Piquer Simón, credited as the more American sounding JP Simon).
While not as batshit insane (and thus awesome) as Pieces, Slugs is still a lot of fun. It’s structured like The Blob or any other old 50s movie, in which a monster is loose and cutting a very random path through a town (of course, starting with a derelict dog owner) while a rogue scientist or two try to figure out a way to stop it and prevent further death/destruction. But being a Simón film, when the monster (thousands of slugs) attacks someone, it is gory as hell and sometimes accompanied by gratuitous nudity. It’s also impressive how much damage the things inadvertently cause. My favorite bit is when just a few slugs inside a guy’s work glove results in the guy chopping off his own hand, knocking over every plant inside his greenhouse, and eventually blowing himself and his wife to smithereens. The entire sequence is like a precursor to the Rube Goldberg-y death scenes in the Final Destination films. Just squish the damn things in your fist, dude!
There is also a hefty dose of what I assume is a Simón tradition: hilariously odd dialogue! After the aforementioned couple is killed, our hero shouts “They were nice people... and I liked them A LOT!” His delivery is beyond the necessary level of anger, to the point where he seems to blame the slugs, the people, his wife, and everyone else in the world for their deaths. I didn’t think anything would top that, but I was so delightfully wrong. In the third act, he tells the zoning commissioner that he is declaring a state of emergency, to which the commissioner guy shouts “You ain’t got the authority to declare happy birthday!” Holy shit, what? And someone else scoffs at the idea of killer slugs by wondering “What’s next? Demented crickets?” (goldmine plot for a film if there ever was one).
Speaking of the commissioner, this movie tops your average real estate horror movie in terms of the boring jobs everyone has. Our lead characters are public health inspectors, sewer management officials, zoning commissioners, real estate barons, land developers... it’s like the cast of a public access town meeting putting a gory, hilarious spin on things.
The movie also has a peculiar hatred of alcohol. Early on, a woman asks her husband if he thought another woman was attractive, and his reply is simply “She DRINKS too much!” The same woman later discusses her growing dependence on the drink after her boyfriend berates her for drinking a bit of wine. And then our resident horny teens have a fight over the guy’s desire to dip into her dad’s scotch. “Why do you have to drink!” she yells. It seems very out of place in a movie that will likely be watched with alcohol 99% of the time. Hell, the only reason I WASN’T drinking was because I watched it at 11 am and had to go to work after (more the latter than the former).
Slugs also has one of my favorite all time screen continuity errors. Our hero and the chief are riding in the chief’s car, and the hero lights a smoke. He then asks if it’s OK to smoke, and the chief says “No”. So the guy throws his cigarette out the window. Then he gets the chief back by claiming that the hard candy he was eating was made from insects. The chief in turn spits the candy out of HIS window. Both occasions are followed by comments about a fine for littering.
...and both windows are completely shut.
I also lost my shit at the film’s climax, in which our heroes unload some sort of chemical into the sewer that will explode when it comes in contact with moisture, such as the slime on the slugs. This is done to save the town, right? Look at the results:
They also hint at a sequel by showing one of the slugs surviving the explosion. But this is sort of obvious – despite how big the explosion was, you gotta figure a few slugs weren’t even in the sewer at all (all of the people they kill are killed above ground). It’s not like a regular monster movie where the monster dies and that’s that – there are like 20 million of the goddamn things around town! Surely more than just the one survived.
Doesn’t matter. Fun movie. Hopefully it will show at the New Beverly someday so I can raise my beer and salute all of the anti-alcohol characters in an appropriate manner.
Oh, and supposedly it’s based on a book. Why would anyone want to read a book about killer slugs when you can’t see the surprisingly gory aftermath of their unprovoked, random attacks on bit players?
What say you?