Slugs

Slugs
Director: J.P. Simon
Screenplay:Ron Gantman (based on the novel by Shaun Hutson)
Stars: Michael Garfield (Mike Brady), Santiago Álvarez (John Foley), Philip MacHale(Don Palmer), Alicia Moro (Maureen Watson), Kim Terry (Kim Brady), Emilio Linder(David Watson), Concha Cuetos (Maria Palmer), John Battaglia (Sheriff Reese), Manuel deBlas (Mayor Eaton)
MPAA Rating:R
Year of Release: 1987
Country: USA/Spain
Slugs Poster

"They slime. They ooze. They kill." No matter how bad the movie is, is it possible tocompletely detest a movie with a tag line like that?

As bad as Slugs is--and it is bad--it is one of those movies that you can'tcompletely disregard. It's not bad in an Ed Wood kind of way because the surface of themovie is absurdly polished, with the look and feel of a fairly high-budget production.Spanish director J.P. Simon (Pieces) has some style and a good sense of what thegenre requires, and it would be wrong to simply dismiss the movie as a complete hack job.

But, just when you think Simon and the rest of the production know what they're doing,the actors come on screen, and everything goes down the tubes. Wooden is a polite word todescribe the acting that goes on in Slugs. It doesn't help that the majority of theactors are Spanish (the film was a Spanish-American co-production) whose dialogue wasdubbed over by even more wooden line readers. And, stacked on top of that, the dialogue inthe movie is positively ludicrous. Simon allows the material to be played straight, but onecannot help but sense him behind the camera snickering as the intrepid hero declares in aflat monotone to the skeptical sheriff, "I know it sounds crazier than hell, but I got thistheory. Maybe, just maybe, we're dealing with a mutant form of slug here. The kind that eatsmeat!"

But, then again, the human actors aren't the real stars. Rather, it is the multitude of slimy,oozing black slugs that often fill the entire screen. A result of both special effects and liveslugs, the titular killers are quite unpleasant to look at, which is, of course, the whole point.Seeing as how there are few creatures in the animal kingdom less harmful than a slug, thefilmmakers have to gross you out, rather than frighten you. A great white shark is scary. Arampaging grizzly bear is scary. A slug is just icky.

In a nutshell, Slugs is about a small American town that finds itself overrun withabnormally large, mutated slugs that have developed a taste for meat--namely, human meat.The slugs have been growing and multiplying in the sewer system, and they begin to comeout through drains, toilets, and water fixtures. At one point, it is explained by a helpfulscientist that slugs are hermaphrodites, meaning they engage in asexual reproduction.However they reproduce, it must be fast and often because apparently there are millions ofthem, squirming and sliming around the sewer passageways, just waiting to get out.

The hero is the county health inspector, Mike Brady (Michael Garfield), who learns thetruth about the slugs and finds that his warnings fall on deaf ears. The local sheriff (JohnBattaglia) doesn't like him to begin with, so he's not particularly inclined to take seriouslywild tales about killer slugs that eat human flesh. The mayor (Manuel de Blas) is even lesswilling to listen because he is busy trying to close a big deal with a developer to build a newshopping center, which is to be built on the buried toxic waste dump that spawned themutated slugs in the first place. Thus, Slugs fills two important criteria of badhorror films made during the Reaganite '80s: it is critical of both rampant capitalism andecological tampering.

Slugs plows through its 90-minute running time with little character developmentor even much of a narrative. The vast majority of the plot makes absolutely no sense. Forinstance, the big finale involves an attempt to kill all the slugs by dropping fiery chemicalsinto the sewer system and burning them up. Great, except for the fact that the openingscene established the fact that the slugs have already moved far beyond the sewer and intothe local lake. And, the characters' big idea to attract all the slugs into one area is luggingaround a garbage bag full of meat. After feasting on half a dozen humans, do they reallythink the slugs are going to think a little raw beef is going to be much of a treat?

Yet, none of this really matters, anyway, because Slugs is the kind of movie thatsimply laughs in the face of logic and consistency. Simon gets by with a minimum ofexposition, relying instead on plenty of gory special effects that involve humans beingeaten alive by thousands of slugs (there is one notably spectacular gross-out when acharacter's face exploded with parasitic worms). As might be guessed, Slugs ishardly a film for everyone. In fact, I would wager to say it is really for a very select few.Yet, even if it doesn't suit your tastes, it is hard to deny that there is something vaguelyadmirable about its energy and its willingness to exploit B-movie conventions with a smirkand a wink.

SlugsDVD

Widescreen1.85:1
AnamorphicYes
AudioDolby Digital1.0 Monaural
LanguagesEnglish
SubtitlesNone
Supplements Originaltheatrical trailer
DistributorAnchorBay Entertainment
SRP$24.95

VIDEO
The new anamorphic widescreen transfer of Slugsin its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is quite good. With the exception of somenoticeable grain in the darker sequences, it is an overall solid transfer, with good colors anda high level of detail. Since those likely to purchase Slugs are looking for a goodgross-out, the increased resolution of the anamorphic transfer really shows off Carlo deMarchis' gory special effects.

AUDIO
The soundtrack, which is in Dolby Digital 1.0 monaural, ismore than adequate. Slugs features a fairly good musical score, although it tends toget repetitive by the end. There are all kinds of gooey sound effects whenever the slugs arepresent that are well rendered. The soundtrack is clean throughout, with no hiss ordistortion. The dialogue is clear and audible, although it rarely matches the actors' mouthsvery well, which is, of course, the fault of the original dubbing, not the soundtrackremastering.

SUPPLEMENTS
The only supplement included is the original theatricaltrailer, which is presented in anamorphic widescreen.

©2000 James Kendrick



Overall Rating: (1.5)



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