What, you don’t already have plans to see Slither? A glistening new horror comedy is certainly reason to break out the Sno-Caps and take the missus to the picture show. Slither heralds the feature directing debut of James Gunn, a screenwriter with Sgt. Kabukiman on his résumé (Troma overlord Lloyd Kaufman cameos in Slither as "Sad Drunk"), as well as both Scooby-Doo movies (boo!) and the recent Dawn of the Dead remake (yeah!). The cast includes Elizabeth Banks (Wet Hot American Summer), Nathan Fillion (Serenity), and Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer); the R-rated plot involves sluglike alien critters who infiltrate a small town — guess they’re waiting for the sequel before they take Manhattan.
If Slither gets you hooked on slime-encrusted giggles and shivers, kill time until Snakes on a Plane (Aug. 18: enough is enough!) with gold standards of the genre. Of course, there’s The Blob; consider a double feature to incorporate both Steve McQueen (original 1958 version) and Kevin "Drama" Dillon (1988 remake) into a single evening. And in 1976 writer-director Jeff Lieberman (the auteur behind that same year’s Blue Sunshine) unleashed the magnificent Squirm, which pits rednecks against flesh-chomping earthworms.
The mid-1970s also spawned They Came from Within, a.k.a. Shivers and Orgy of the Blood Parasites. Creepy critters! Sex maniacs! The most disturbing bathing scene since Psycho! Calm your anger over writer-director David Cronenberg’s not getting an Oscar nom for A History of Violence — seriously, WTF? — by revisiting this early, deliciously depraved effort.
Then, of course, there’s 1986’s Night of the Creeps, a grade-A B-movie that proves once and for all that oops-I-accidentally-unthawed-a-corpse-infected-by-aliens is the ultimate party foul. Spanish import Slugs: The Movie (1988) and 1957’s Salton Sea snail-terror flick The Monster That Challenged the World are also worth a mention, as well as 1959’s Attack of the Giant Leeches (directed by Bernard L. Kowalski, who also did 1973’s SSSSSSS — for all of you who wish Anaconda were a trilogy).
Maybe the best postirony critter-horror film is Tremors. Giant underground "graboids" terrorize an armpit Nevada town filled with such characters as a cowboy named Valentine (Kevin Bacon, never better) and a pair of survivalists (the dad from Family Ties and, uh, Reba McEntire) wielding cannons and elephant guns. This 1990 miniclassic spawned a TV series and no less than three straight-to-video sequels. OK, technically, one was a prequel (Tremors 4: The Legend Begins), but you were kinda curious about that origin story, right? (Cheryl Eddy)
Opens Fri/31 in Bay Area theaters
Go to www.sfbg.com for showtimes.