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Slugs (1988)

DVD Cover (Image Entertainment)
Director:
Juan Piquer Simón Juan Piquer Simón
Starring:
Michael Garfield Michael Garfield
Kim Terry Kim Terry
Philip MacHale Philip MacHale
Alicia Moro Alicia Moro
Santiago Álvarez Santiago Álvarez

5.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres / Traits: Creature Film, Horror, Natural Horror, Insects
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Review by Chad
Added: July 08, 2008
There are two ways that you can look at a horror film that revolves around killer slugs. On the one hand, the movie revolves around killer slugs. Let's be honest here: slugs are not scary in the least, and getting away from them requires nothing more than taking a couple of steps in the opposite direction. I could understand if these were mutated, fifty-foot tall slugs out of a fifties movie, but no, these are ordinary, everyday slugs, much like the ones you might find on the sidewalk after a rainy day. Granted, these particular slugs have teeth and are a little larger than the slugs that call my neck of the woods home, but the fact remains that it would take them an hour to travel the length that you could cover in six steps.

So, it should go without saying that this is a waste of time, right? Well, I did say that there were two different ways that you could look at a film like this, and the other way starts out much like the first: the movie revolves around killer slugs, and neither the title of the film nor the DVD cover attempts to hide this fact (today's distributors could take a lesson from this). That alone should clue you in to the fact that this is not a horror film that takes itself too seriously, and even though it never treads into horror-comedy territory, it's obvious that the filmmakers knew that they weren't creating high art here and opted to make the film as fun as possible. I can't say that the film is a classic, but I can say that it was much better than a film about killer slugs had any right to be.

Taking place in a small American town (even though it was shot in Spain), Slugs is about... well, slugs. It seems as though they've grown teeth and gotten fairly upset after having been exposed to some buried toxic waste which was riled up by greedy developers breaking ground on a new mall, and now, the citizens of this town live in mortal fear... of slugs.

Enter Mike Brady (Michael Garfield), a man who doesn't have a wife named Carol, a housekeeper named Alice, or even a single kid to carry on his name. No, he's just a simple health inspector who has a hunch that all of the recent deaths in this town could possibly be linked to the overly-aggressive slugs that are popping up in swarms, but as is par for the course in these films, the authorities dismiss his claims as the ravings of a madman. So, after a couple of close friends die, Mike and his friend Don (Philip MacHale) take it upon themselves to put an end to these killer slugs once and for all.

It's a silly, clichéd premise even for a nature-gone-amok horror film, but given the subject matter, did you really expect something along the lines of The Birds, Jaws, or even Arachnophobia? Those films all worked because of the "stars" of the show: the beasts themselves. After all, birds aren't all that scary when you think about it, but Hitchcock took this plot and ran with it, creating a film that is still being talked about today. Sharks... well, countless people were afraid of the beach after the film was released, so it should go without saying that a great white shark is terrifying to most viewers. Hell, there's even enough people out there with that silly fear of spiders to make that film work, but slugs? Yes, it's as silly as it gets, but the filmmakers made it work in their own little way.

As mentioned, the storyline is extremely clichéd; it's almost as if the filmmakers watched other films in the natural horror genre and simply cobbled together a plot using the ideas found in those films and replaced the antagonists with slugs. We've got a sheriff and a mayor who refuse to believe that anything is wrong in their quiet little town while bodies are turning up left and right, the scientist with all of the answers, the inevitable blame on big corporations, and the questionable waste disposal methods of big businesses. Hell, we've even got nods to the slasher genre, gratuitous nudity, and an "explosive" finale that comes straight out of an action flick.

With that said, the film is enjoyable in its own quirky way. Perhaps this can be attributed to the simple fact that it's a film about killer slugs, and as a result, we have a morbid curiosity that forces us to sit there and watch to see where it goes next. More likely, however, it's because the filmmakers knew that they weren't making cinematic history with this release, so they instead chose to make the film as fun as possible.

Take the opening scene, for example: a young couple are kicked back on a boat, the boyfriend with a fishing pole in his hand and a bare foot in the water, when the woman asks "So, you weren't kidding when you said we were going fishing, huh?" It is at this point that something under the water pulls him down by his foot, leaving the clueless female to scream hysterically while blood and gore bubbles up to the surface of the lake. If that doesn't whet your appetite, how about that closeup of the slug biting a man on the finger, or the gratuitous (and extremely well-done) gore that pops up in every other scene? This, my friends, is b-movie gold.

You can decide whether or not you should see certain films based on the title alone, and Slugs is definitely one of those movies. Can you appreciate the idea of giant killer slugs (where giant translates to "a little less than twice their normal size") terrorizing a town? Does the thought of watching a horror film that borders on parody without ever actually crossing that line sound like a great way to spend the evening? Are you a fan of horrific dubbing and even worse acting? If you answered "yes" to at least two of those questions, you can't go wrong with this one. 7/10.
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