Slither is a 2006 horror/comedy film written and directed by James Gunn. It is a Homage
to gory B-Movie
horror films. While not a massive commercial success, the film is something of a Cult Classic
The plot is essentially, an Alien Invasion
film mixed with a Zombie Apocalypse
. An alien parasite lands in rural America, infecting and taking control
of local man Grant Grant
). The alien impregnates a local woman, who gives birth (by having them eat her from the inside out
) to thousands of "slugs", that share the original alien's mind. The slugs then enter a person's body through the mouth
, killing them. The aliens then take control of the corpse
. It's then up to the local police sheriff (played by Nathan Fillion
, of Firefly
fame), Grant's wife (Elizabeth Banks), the foul-mouthed Mayor, and a local teen to stop the alien before it can infect every living thing on the planet.
Not to be confused with the original Canadian version of which this is a remake, David Cronenbourg's 1975 sci-fi horror thriller Shivers
, or the 2008 film Splinter
Provides Examples Of:
- Action Survivor: Kylie. Over the course of the film, she manages to: grab one of the alien worms as it enters her mouth and pull it out again; burn said worm to death with a curling iron; escape a massive horde of worms by jumping off the roof of her house; take down a couple of worm-zombies (including a zombified deer) more or less by herself; and, ultimately, survive a flying couch to the face with nothing worse than a broken arm. Not bad for a kid with fake nails and a penchant for taking long baths.
- Alien Invasion
- Arc Words: Several including; "Don't you look at me", "Hey there, killer", "Meat"
- Anyone Can Die: And everyone in the whole town but Kylie, Bill, and Starla do.
- Badass Teacher: Starla. "Bitch is hardcore!"
- Bald of Evil: Grant after he gets infected.
- Berserk Button: The mayor isn't exactly a calm guy to begin with, but he really throws a tantrum after he discovers that no one has brought any Mr. Pibb, which is the only soft-drink he likes. This is after everyone's started turning into alien parasite-infected zombies, mind you.
Pardy: Jesus Christ, Jack, let me get right on it!
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: After being turned into a breeder for the parasites, the Mayor begs Pardy to kill him.
- Big Damn Heroes: Pardy shows up in a big blaze of glory, ready to save Starla, blow up the alien and kick some parasite ass. Subverted, since the alien knocks aside his grenade, it gets dropped in the pool and explodes there, and Pardy promptly gets his ass kicked.
- Body Horror: Oh so very much of it. Brenda, Grant...
- Bury Your Gays: Played straight with Margaret.
- Captain Obvious: "Something's wrong with me."
- Chekhov's Grenade: Subverted. They make a big deal of showing the viewer the SINGLE grenade that the Sheriff's department owns and the camera lingers on it for a moment. Later, when the hero attempts to use it, it's casually knocked aside and into a swimming pool, where it uselessly explodes.
- Played straight with Kylie's nails which provide much needed grip during the initial attack.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The whole film, but especially anything the Mayor says.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Grant does not like the idea of other guys getting close to Starla. It's bad enough before he gets possessed by an alien death-worm.
- Decoy Protagonist: Bill's something like this; the audience is set up to expect him to become the ass-kicking Action Hero when the moment calls, but when the action really kicks off while he's not that incompetent and certainly isn't cowardly, it is pretty clear that he's completely out of his depth, and pretty much every moment that's set up to make him look like a Badass ends with him either running away or getting his ass kicked. He also needs to be rescued more than once by Starla and Kylie.
- Nathan Fillion certainly confirmed that one of the things he really enjoyed about playing Bill was his bewildered and terrified "what the fuck is going on?!" reaction to almost everything that happened, rather than reacting like a standard Action Hero would.
- Deep South: The film is set in Wheelsy, a small town in South Carolina.
- Diagonal Cut: When a single guy tries to stop Grant, the latter casually whips a tentacle at him. He looks, confused, for a few seconds, while blood starts pouring out of a perfectly vertical cut from his head to his groin, before he splits apart.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The scenes where the alien worms possess and impregnate the townsfolk are treated as parallel to rape and sexual assault. The alien even has an "o-face" when it implants someone.
- Grant's descent into alien-possessed Body Horror monstrousness is a pretty clear metaphor for a jealous and controlling husband graduating into a Domestic Abuser.
- The End... Or Is It? / Sequel Hook / The Stinger: Keep watching after the end credits.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: The entire town is killed except Bill Pardy, Starla and Kylie.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Or belly full, at any rate. The alien uses humans as living incubators for its progeny, implanting them via impaling them with a pair of tendrils which deliver the "seed" into the body. The host then is driven by an unquenchable hunger for meat no matter the source, and eventually bloats into an enormous immobile blob as the slugs grow in side of them. They are still awake and aware during the several days this process takes.
- Final Girl: Two of them plus a Final Guy. Only Starla completely fills this trope however.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: A redneck attempting to stop a fully mutated Grant gets bisected by a whip-like tentacle.
- Hive Mind: The parasite has the mind of every living creature it has ever infected.
- Hive Queen: Grant.
- Homage: Most obviously to Night of the Creeps. Starla teaches at Earl Bassett Community School, the mayor's name is R.J. MacReady, there's a store in town called Max Renn's, and Bill mentions the Raglan and Castevet farms. The scene of Kylie getting attacked by a slug in the bathtub has definite echoes of Shivers, as well.
- Horror Hunger
- I'm a Humanitarian: Those turned into breeders want meat. Any meat...
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Non-alcoholic version with the Mayor. After witnessing and barely escaping from all sorts of bizarre and frightening things, he reaches into the case to get a Mr. Pibb soft drink...only to have a bit of a meltdown when he discovers there isn't any.
- Incongruously Dressed Zombie: One of a mob of worm-possessed corpses is a black-robed clergyman with a handbell.
- Infant Immortality: Averted with the creepy cannibal Undead Children.
- Mayor Pain: Averted. Macready is loud, profane, and abrasive, but he harasses Pardy to solve the Grant case, not cover it up. And when Pardy raises a posse to lay an ambush for Grant, Macready takes up a rifle and volunteers.
- Mercy Kill: Bill delivers this to Mayor MacReady after the discovering that the latter has begun to get all "womby."
- Morality Pet: Starla could probably qualify as this for Grant before he got infected. Definitely qualifies for him (and the Hive Mind as a whole) afterward in that she's the only human he/it/they cares enough about to not infect.
- Ms Exposition: Kylie fills this role, thanks to having mind melded with one of the worms.
- Noble Bigot: The Mayor implicitly has some homophobic beliefs, but as he tells lesbian cop, Margaret, during his rant in the aftermath of Brenda's slug-induced explosion:
Mayor MacReady: You can sue with me. I don't care if you're a lesbo, you don't deserve this shit.
- Oh, Crap: Bill Pardy when he stumbles upon an infected deer eating some human corpses in the police station.
Bill Pardy: Fuck me.
- Omnicidal Maniac
''I'll keep growing till I'm everywhere. 'Till I'm all that is."
- Orifice Invasion: The slugs enter a host via the mouth.
- Planetary Parasite: As one character discovers during a failed attempt at infestation, this is the life cycle of the aliens. They take over a being on a planet, turn other beings into slug-breeders, take over more people with the slugs, integrate all those hosts into one large super-organism, then launch seeds at another planet to eventually repeat the cycle.
- The Power of Love: Subverted, but not how you think. After being infected, Grant tries and succeeds at resisting the urge to eat Starla, and has his drones bring her back home and dress her in silk and comb her hair lovingly. At the end she even manages to prey on his love for her to get in close and stab him. Pity it wasn't in a vital area... which, considering he/it was a mass of alien blubber, tentacles and human bodies, he may not have had one other than his brain.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Grant Grant isn't himself.
- Word of God is that the real Grant was killed as soon as the parasite entered his body. The creature, however, retained Grant's personality and memories and was thus influenced by it (notably, Grant's love for Starla).
- Rant Inducing Slight: Macready has been through a pretty awful night, and he's been reasonably stoic about it (i.e., he's been no more of a profane loudmouth than usual), but the lack of Mr. Pibb in the cooler was just the last straw.
- Rule of Cool: The whole film runs on this.
- Rule of Funny: Or this.
- Rule of Scary: Or this.
- Did anyone else think of Serenity upon learning that they had a grenade, and Nathon Fillion decided they leave it behind?
- Countless others to mention, but the ending is a possible shout-out to the final scenes of Society.
- The film is a Whole Plot Reference (kinda sorta) to Night of the Creeps.
- Henenlotter's Saddle Lodge is a shout out to director Frank Henenlotter of Basket Case and Brain Damage fame.
- Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: It's a blend of both.
- Soundtrack Dissonance
- That Poor Cat: At the end of The Stinger. Overlaps with Gory Discretion Shot as it cuts to black.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Bill Pardy (until the end)
- Vasquez Always Dies: Of the few uninfected, Deputy Margaret is quickly taken out while the much more feminine Starla and Kylie survive the movie.
- The Virus
- Yandere: Grant and the entire alien Hive Mind pretty much become this for Starla.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Potentially. They're able to prevent the scenario from spreading beyond the town, luckily.