SLITHER - HD DVD review

Slither is one of those films I should probably not like, yet I strangely find myself having no problems in recommending it.

DeanWink

Nathan Fillion is Bill Pardy, a small town Sheriff that is in love with Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks), but never made a move on her and saw her marry an older man, Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) in this comedic science-fiction horror film that is more a parody of the genres it is a part of than it is a serious entry among them. This is a film that never even thinks about taking itself seriously and if you were looking for something even remotely close to being a standard horror picture and you look towards "Slither," than not only have you found yourself badly mistaken, but also severely disappointed. "Slither" is a sillier and low rent version of Wes Craven's masterful "Scream" franchise from a few years back.

Fillion plays a great smartassed hero and mastered his approach in the "Firefly" television show and its followup film, "Serenity." He knows how to play a role tongue-in-cheek and how to seriously not take himself seriously. A perfect example is when he details his simple and easy to follow plan to defeat the main evil creature with a singular hand grenade that oddly exists in the Sheriff's office. His detailing the plan is a wonderful jab at all of those horror films where such events unfold that the plan is bound to work out or where everything is so obvious, you wonder why they don't just spit it out in exposition instead of insulting the audiences intelligence and having them guess or try to figure out the plan. In "Slither," the simply give you the exposition and you can laugh out at the simplistic plan that is bound to fail, but would have otherwise provided the necessary clues to obviously been the way in which the hero would have won the day. In "Slither," of course, you know things are bound to get fouled up.

In the story, Grant Grant becomes infected by an alien life form and slowly transforms into a large tentacled creature that loves to eat raw meat or ingest other human beings. He impregnates a sexy single mother that is infatuated with him and she has a lot of small slug-like alien babies that force themselves into a human carrier to take over their bodies in a way that is part "Alien" and part "Body Snatchers" but mostly just disturbing. Grant Grant loves his wife Starla and will not hurt her, but wants her to be part of his new existence. He tries to pass some of his new transformations off, but becomes frustrated when he is unable to pull her in. Literally. Sheriff Bill Pardy is working to save the residents that are turning into flesh eating citizens that would rather eat their neighbors than share sugar. Pardy finds himself protecting Starla from her husband and a few other stragglers that look to him for protection.

One of my favorite quotes from "Slither" was "Well now that is some f**k'd up s**t." This is spoken by Fillion when he sees the grotesquely disfigured Michael Rooker character. How many times have you wanted your hero to say exactly that? Well, in "Slither," it finally happens. Fillion's Bill Pardy is both shocked, but disturbed by seeing Grant Grant as a Jabba the Hutt grotesque that is absorbing other bodies into his unsettling form. I know if I was in that situation and after seeing all of the zombies and other horrendous activities, I would not have screamed or shrieked. I would have swore a few choice words myself. In this regard, "Slither" is more realistic and serious than many of the other horror films released over the years. It gives it a feel all of its own that is fresh, corny, but damn funny.

At first, I didn't know what to think about "Slither." Then, as the movie rolled along and I figured out what kind of film I was watching, it started to grow on me. Once the film became more about star Nathan Fillion than Michael Rooker (whom I like as an actor), I started to laugh at the sheer humor of "Slither." It reminded me a lot of the original "Tremors," but even more absurd. I've seen so many horror movies over the years that I could pick out many of the backhanded slaps to the back of the head to the genre that the film delivered. This isn't a big budget movie and some of the effects are quite cheesy, which adds to the cornball feeling of the film. This is one of those movies that is nice to sit down and enjoy, but I would consider it more of a rental than something you would want to purchase. Unless, of course you are a Nathan Fillion fan. Then this becomes a must own for you. I'm learning to appreciate Fillion much more than I did when I first saw "Firefly" and originally dismissed the show as rubbish.

Video:
"Slither" is presented as an HD-DVD / DVD Combo Format release. The HD-DVD side features the film in a 1080p, VC-1 encoded 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The standard definition side features the film in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. Comparing side A to side B shows that the high definition transfer is definitely superior to the standard definition transfer, but I still question the logic behind most of these Combo Format releases. The level of detail in "Slither" is good, but far from great. It looks and feels low budget and one must wonder if that was the intent of the filmmakers. The source materials used were very clean and there is hardly a blemish in the entire picture. A moment or two of film grain did exist and some of the darker nighttime scenes were the typical guilty moments for grain to pop up and say hello. Black levels were strong, as was shadow detail. The film's colors were nicely saturated and looked quite colorful. Overall, "Slither" looks pretty good in high definition without betraying its low budget roots.

Sound:
Universal has provided English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 sound. While I typically do not listen to the foreign language soundtracks, I did have to experience a few scenes in Spanish. They made me laugh. Keeping with my native English track, "Slither" sounded good enough considering that the film is not exactly an aggressive sounding mix and there are long scenes where the film does not feature a lot of rear sound information or any deep noticeable bass. In fact, throughout much of the film, only the three front channels really had a lot to do. The sound was very clear and dialogue was sharp. "Slither" is not a film that will impress anybody with its sound information, but fortunately, nobody is expecting anything great from the audio mix. It does what is necessary to deliver the film to one's aural canals and that is about it.

Extras:
A few decent features are contained on the "Slither" HD-DVD that help further the value of the film. Contained on the standard definition side, these features are highly entertaining and worth checking out. The Deleted and Extended Scenes number over a dozen and runs for just over seventeen minutes. Some of these scenes were tremendously entertaining and featured a bit more gore than what was present in the theatrical release. The film's writer/director James Gunn features insight into the decisions to remove this footage from the film. The supplement Bringing Slither's Creatures to Life is a twenty minute documentary that looks at the film's visual effects used to create the little slug creatures and Grant Grant's hideous transformation.

This is not the end of the supplements. There is also the Fillion featured Slithery Set Tour with Nathan Fillion. It is short and sweet, but Fillion makes it worth checking out. A Making Of: The Sick Minds and Slimy Days of Slither is an EPK styled documentary that features the usual talking heads with cast and crew, but does offer some nice insight into the film and also finds the cast sharing their thoughts on the horror genre. A Feature Commentary with Director James Gunn and Actor Nathan Fillion is a great listen and both men reminisce and talk about their experiences making the film. They are very personable throughout the entire commentary and always seem to have something good to say. A lengthy Gag Reel completes the list of features listed on the packaging.

A few supplements are not listed on the packaging. These vignettes run for roughly twenty minutes and nicely detail the making of the picture. Gore Hound Grill: Brewing the Blood is an educational piece on making the fake blood used in the film. I've made my grocery list thanks to this featurettes. Visual Effects: Step-by-Step is a five minute look at the film's digital effects. Finally, Lloyd Kaufman's Video Diary is a ten minute video diary of the man behind Troma Films, which "Slither" shares many similarities with.

Closing Comments:
"Slither" is one of those films I should probably not like, yet I strangely find myself having no problems in recommending it. Nathan Fillion is an actor I am also starting to appreciate more and more and he is much of the reason I found myself enjoying this little film that reminds me so much of "Tremors" and other cheeseball horror films. Cheeseball seems like a great word to describe the picture. Anyhow, this is a nice little comedic horror film that easily tickles one's funny bone and pokes playfully at the horror genre. The hand grenade plan described in the film is an excellent example of this type of horror genre in-joke. The picture quality is pretty good considering the low-budget nature of the film and the sound quality is certainly adequate. The supplements are fun and while this is not a heavily laden disc, it has nice array of extra bits and pieces to make you feel better about spending your hard earned dollars. The film is fun. It is silly. It is worth checking out.

Ratings

Video
8
Audio
7
Extras
7
Film Value
7