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Directed by James Gunn.
Written by James Gunn (the writer behind the two "Scooby-Doo" films).
Starring Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, and Michael Rooker.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  4/2/06


My buddy Ross and I took in a matinee of the new campy horror flick "Slither", and although we both came in with VERY low expectations, I'm happy to say that this wasn't a total waste of our hard-earned cash.

That's because writer/director James Gunn injects the film with a decent bit of life thanks to laughs at the most ridiculous times and a tone that never takes itself too seriously.  Michael Rooker--who had a career of some stature 15 years ago, until he leveled out in 1993's "Cliffhanger"--plays Grant Grant, a hard-working guy in small-town Wheelsy married to a beautiful schoolteacher named Starla (Elizabeth Banks, memorable cameos in "Catch Me If You Can" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin").  One night in the woods, Grant makes the mistake of investigating a strange, alien-like...alien too closely, which leads him to develop a bit of a skin condition that slowly mutates him into a full-blown zombie/alien hybrid.  The Wheelsy Police Department, led by Chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion), follows leads of a sick nature--you know, missing, half-eaten cats & dogs and other random livestock that has been kidnapped and eaten by the alien thing--and figures out that Grant might have more than a minor bug bite.

Gunn's film is often pretty nasty, kind of like "The Blob" or other blood-guts-and-gore remakes that seem to have a blast getting everyone in the cast bloodied up or covered in goop...but, Ross and I did do a good bit of laughing because some of the lines these characters spout as they are faced with terror of the unknown are just fucking great.  Fillion seems especially well-equipped for this sort of comedy, having played essentially the same role in "Serenity" last year as the wiseacre captain of a space ship that is constantly in trouble.  Rooker--a king of B-, C-, and straight-to-video films over the last ten years--hams it up well, especially as his character takes the detour to Hell and his skin is turned to a red rubbery substance late in the movie.  The other bit players that show up--most of whom naturally bite it in nasty ways--seem to believe in this material enough to give it their best effort, which just makes watching all of them play their best zombie even funnier.

But, "Slither" never really hits it out of the park, and its horror element never really makes much sense, even as it gets to the height of its nastiness when we see what Grant's new form is going to mean for the greater community.  But, for a 90-minute low-budget horror film shot in Canada, "Slither" is good enough.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09