Slither (2006 film)
Official poster for Slither
|Directed by||James Gunn|
|Produced by||Paul Brooks
|Written by||James Gunn|
|Music by||Tyler Bates|
|Editing by||John Axelrad|
|Studio||Gold Circle Films
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||95 minutes|
Slither is a 2006 science fiction-horror-comedy film written and directed by James Gunn, and starring Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks and Michael Rooker. The film was produced by Paul Brooks and Eric Newman. Slither is James Gunn's directorial debut.
A meteorite housing a malevolent extraterrestrial parasite crashes into the town of Wheelsy, South Carolina. While frolicking in the woods with Brenda (Brenda James), local car dealer Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) finds the parasite and is infected by it. The parasite takes over his body and absorbs his consciousness and memories. With the alien now in control of his body, 'Grant' begins to slowly change into a tentacled slug-like monster.
Many pets soon disappear, but Grant is not suspected. However, his wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) begins to question his health; he explains the initial changes in his appearance as an allergic reaction to a bee sting, saying that a doctor has already given him something for it, but Starla soon learns this is a lie. Starla contacts the police chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) – her childhood crush – who attempts to reassure and comfort her while not acting on his feelings.
Grant infects the lonely and neglected Brenda with hundreds of his offspring. He hides her in an isolated barn where she becomes massively obese as baby alien slugs grow inside her. Bill leads a small group of officers on a hunt for Grant; they find Brenda in time to see her explode, releasing hundreds of the alien slugs. Most of Bill's group are infected by the slugs and become Grant's puppets, speaking as if they were Grant and obsessed with bringing Starla home and holding her to her wedding vows.
Everyone in town is quickly eaten or absorbed into Grant's hive mind except Starla, Bill, mayor Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry) and one teenager, Kylie (Tania Saulnier), who escaped a partial bonding in which she saw the slug's memories; it moves from planet to planet, eating or absorbing all life it finds there. The parasite's consciousness, however, is influenced by the real Grant's memories and his love for his wife, Starla.
The survivors try to escape detection and kill Grant. The townspeople attack their vehicle, capturing Starla and Jack. Bill and Kylie track Starla to her home, and find that the infected are melding into one giant creature. They must risk their lives to stop the infestation from spreading any further. Jack awakens in the house's basement, where several of the infected are eating; he tries to escape but soon finds that he too is infected. Starla charms the monster by calling him "Grant" and telling him they can be together, but as they get close to each other, she pulls a knife from her underwear and stabs him in the chest. He slaps her with a tentacle and knocks her across the room.
Bill arrives; Jack begs to be killed, and Bill shoots him in the head. He tries to kill the monster with a grenade, but another tentacle knocks the grenade into the pool, where it detonates. The monster sends two tentacles to stab Bill and infect him; one is lodged in his abdomen, but Bill attaches the other to a small propane tank, filling Grant with gas, and Starla shoots the monster, causing it to explode, whereupon all the infected die. The three survivors walk away to find a hospital for Bill.
In a post-credits scene, a cat approaches to feed off Grant's remains, and is infected as Grant was in the beginning.
- Nathan Fillion as Bill Pardy
- Elizabeth Banks as Starla Grant
- Michael Rooker as Grantford "Grant" Grant
- Tania Saulnier as Kylie Strutemyer
- Matreya Fedor as Emily Strutemyer
- Gregg Henry as Jackson "Jack" MacReady
- Don Thompson as Walter "Wally" Whale
- Brenda James as Brendalynne "Brenda" Gutierrez
- Jenna Fischer as Shelby Cunningham
- Jennifer Copping as Margaret Hooper
- Haig Sutherland as Trevor Carpenter
- Amber Lee Bartlett as Jenna Strutemyer
Background and production
Gunn was said to be influenced by the wave of graphically violent horror B movies of the late 1970s and early 1980s, largely created by such directors as John Carpenter, Lloyd Kaufman, David Cronenberg, Stuart Ettingoff and Fred Dekker. According to journalist Steve Palopoli:
When the trailer for Slither came out, Internet boards about the movie suddenly lit up with protests from a legion of fans of the 1986 film Night of the Creeps. "Alien slugs that turn people into zombies!" they cried. "What a rip-off!" I bring this up not because I think Slither--which is a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of at least a dozen '80s horror films--could really be considered a rip-off of any one of them.
Palopoli then goes on to directly compare Slither to the aforementioned Night of the Creeps as well as Shivers (1975). Gunn has stated, however, that both David Cronenberg's Shivers and his 1979 film The Brood were the two biggest influences on the story in Slither, along with the manga Uzumaki (2000) by Junji Ito. Slither also pays homage to the studio Troma Films, where Gunn began his career. Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo as a "Sad Drunk," and one scene includes a clip from the Troma film, The Toxic Avenger.
Slither was released on regular DVD and on HD DVD/DVD hybrid disc on October 24, 2006. The HD version is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen encoded at 1080p and Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 surround. In addition to the film, the DVD contains two making-of documentaries, one being solely dedicated to the visual effects. The DVD also contains deleted and extended scenes, a blooper reel, visual effects progressions, a set tour with Nathan Fillion, and audio commentary by James Gunn and Nathan Fillion. Also included are featurettes outlining how to make edible blood, and Lloyd Kaufman's documentary discussing his day on set, and the shooting of his one line (which was eventually cut from the film). Finally, there is an added bonus entitled "Who Is Bill Pardy?" which is a joke feature made by Gunn with the sole purpose of roasting Nathan Fillion, and was shown at the film's wrap party.
Slither received mostly positive reviews. Film review website Rotten Tomatoes, which calculates the consensus of critics across the United States, found that Slither was generally embraced favorably by critics, with a rating of "86% fresh". The movie was also featured in the April 14, 2006 issue of Entertainment Weekly as #1 on "The Must List"; "Ten Things We Love This Week". Slither picked up the 2006 Fangoria "Chainsaw Award" for the Highest Body Count, and garnered nominations in the categories of Relationship From Hell, Dude You Don't Wanna Mess With, and Looks That Kill. Additionally, the horror magazine Rue Morgue named Slither the “Best Feature Film of the Year”. Among the critics who did not like the film, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper gave Slither a "two thumbs down" rating on their television show, with Richard Roeper saying he was "all zombied out" after reviewing a wave of zombie-themed movies from the year before. Guest critic Michael Phillips named Slither his DVD pick of the week on the television show Ebert & Roeper. Slither was listed as one of the “Top 25 DVDs of the Year” by Peter Travers in Rolling Stone magazine.
Box office performance
Slither debuted in the United States and Canada on March 31, 2006 in 1,945 theaters. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $3,880,270 and ranked #8 at the U.S. and Canadian box office. Slither grossed $7,802,450 in its theatrical run in the United States and Canada. Slither also underperformed in France, grossing $236,261 from 150 screens. The film grossed $5,032,486 as of February 6, 2008 in territories outside the United States and Canada for a worldwide gross of $12,834,936. Its box office performance was substantially less than its total budget of $29.5 million, including marketing costs; the production budget taking up about $15 million of the total. Paul Brooks, president of Slither's production company, Gold Circle Films, said the company was "crushingly disappointed" by the gross. Universal Pictures distanced itself from Slither's poor box office performance, citing their distribution of the film as merely part of a deal with Gold Circle Films. The Hollywood Reporter speculated that Slither's performance "might have killed off the horror-comedy genre for the near future." Producer Paul Brooks offered this explanation about why Slither failed to catch on with movie-goers:
I think that because it was comedy-horror instead of pure horror is where the problem lay. It's the first comedy-horror in a long time, and maybe the marketplace just isn't ready for comedy-horror yet. It's difficult to think of other explanations.
The DVD opened at #8 in sales and #15 in rentals, grossing $3,389,405 in sales and $2.08 million in rentals in its opening week. The DVD total rental gross reached $11.1 million and total DVD sales were $4,541,528 as of 2006.
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- Chainsaw Awards - Nominees
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- Travers, Peter (November 30, 2006). "Best 25 DVDs" (1014). ROLLING STONE.
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- USA DVD Rentals: 24 December 2006
- DVD sales as of 11/05/2006