Slugs (1988)

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:

Couldn’t they have just given everyone a big bag of salt?

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?


  1. Wow--I had no idea. I'm going to have to get my hands on this one pronto. Iloved the batshit factor of Pieces (which is pretty much the whole movie), and this sounds like more of the delightful same.

    But is there a kung-fu instructor?

  2. 8 Legged Freaks. I'm not going to review it. That's your job, but I re-watched it last night [after first watching THEY LIVE]...anyway, it's standard monster movie stuff. It has the same basic ending as SLUGS except instead of a sewer it's a mine shaft, and the town doesn't explode. Just David Arquette's career. And the sheriff is hot. I bought for $1.99 on DVD totally worth it.

    THEY LIVE owns. "I came here to do two thing. Kick ass, and chew bubble gum. And I'm all out of bubble gum."

    Most random post. ever.

    THEY LIVE owns. "I came here to do two thing. Kick ass, and chew bubble gum. And I'm all out of bubble gum."

  3. I've seen this movie twice now and will probably purchase it in the near future. I love the lunch time deal scene. It's almost like it was made for 3-D.

  4. NO KUNG FU PROFESSOR! I was very upset by that.

    JB - I hated Eight Legged Freaks. The only part I laughed at was when Doug E Doug and Arquette argue over who has the radio, and then Arquettes like "OH wait i DO have it! I get confused."

  5. Oh, sure. Freaks isn't a great movie...but a buck 99? 100% WORTH IT. My real point was that the ending of the two movies [or how they defeat the monsters] are pretty much the same thing. That's all. Thought that was interesting.

    oh, the other funny part is when the old lady tells our hero [D.A.] that his goatee looks like female genatalia. Oh, and Doug E. Doug is in it. I definitley had an "ohhhhh yeah. I remember that guy" moment.

    I will now netflix slugs.

  6. I remember seeing this B-movie classic on USA's late and lamented "Night Flight" (or "Up All Night", who remembers these things). My favorite parts: 1) Slug in a blender; 2)The USA censor bleeped a tiny fraction of a cuss word so it came out as f_uck - what'd he say, firetruck? Hilariously pointless.

  7. man i loved this movie! you're adding to my growing list of "shit i want to buy". you're making jeff mad. stop it.

  8. Slugs is my kind of movie. I loved the slugs in the glove series of unfortunate events. And then there was the tiny slug biting the tip of that guy's finger. Terrifying.

  9. One thing I thought was hilarious (so much so that I thought maybe I misunderstood something) was that one guy whose wife looked old enough to be his mother.

  10. In case you are chomping at the bit for a really nice version of this movie, Arrow Video just released a BD of this, and it looks great. Makes all the crappy special effects much clearer for maximum enjoyment.

    And Frank Brana in a bit part! Wonderful.

  11. I just finished the novel Slugs and the "You ain't got the authority to declare Happy Birthday!" line is not there, but it is a short and fun read.

  12. I see people are dissing this classic (and highly gross) film again.

    "Couldn't they have just give everyone a big bag of salt?"

    Mike Brady's wife did, in fact, mention for him to try salt on the slugs in their garden, but when Mike agreed to it, she brushed it off. Besides, we wouldn't have had the awesome climax we got to see if everyone just used salt each time they encountered the slugs.

    Violence and gore is way over the top in this film and anyone with a weak stomach should avoid watching it. Otherwise, get a bag or bucket by your side. I'm surprised this film was rated R and not X (back then, X meant NC-17 today instead of porn) for its extreme violence, blood, and gore.

    1. Well if by "again" you mean ten years ago and by "dissing" you mean making a joke in a picture caption re: the excess of the climax that the text itself defends, then yeah, that's what I was doing.


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