So once again we have survived.

Slugs

tn_slugsIn my opinion, slugs is not necessarily one of the top 5 scariest types of monsters to use in a horror movie. I know, I know, but hear me out. I have a right to my own opinion, no matter how unpopular or vile. Please be respectful of this open forum.

So here is the reason why: they’re fucking slugs! They can barely move. They are smooshable. You can kill them just by putting salt on them. They don’t even have a shell to hide in, like a snail. They ordinarily pose no threat to anyone or anything except for your garden. Even then they are not really that hard to deal with. I guess maybe if this movie was told from the point of view of a vegetable it would be one thing, but it’s not, it’s humans. Hard for a human to be scared of slugs.

Viscous Death!
Viscous Death!

Maybe the filmatists (the writer/director is J.P. Simon, who did PIECES) were thinking about DAWN OF THE DEAD and predicting the whole slow zombies vs. fast zombies debate that would happen a decade and a half later. They wanted to show that although one slug is not that huge of a threat there are always a whole bunch more slugs behind it, shambling along. It’s not the individual threat of one zombie or slug as much as the existential threat of there being an endless supply of zombies or slugs that will eventually, inevitably, overwhelm you. Plus the idea that it looks like your friend but really his or her soul is gone, it’s only a shell, a zombie or a slug. No, that last one doesn’t apply to slugs, never mind that part. But if I start to turn into one of those things, one of those slugs, you know what to do, right? I want you to promise me.

It’s true, these slugs only work in great numbers, but they are also given some extra-sluggic abilities. They’re supposed to be mutant slugs (“this whole place used to be a radioactive dump” is the origin story). Regular slug-slime is numbing like novocaine, mutant slug slime is paralyzing and poisonous. Also these ones have mouths with teeth, which you only really see in one scene where a guy sticks his finger out and it bites him (see above). Also they have a powerful strain of parasites inside them that can enter the human bloodstream and cause thousands of worms to explode out of your eye sockets. At least that’s what happens to one guy. While having dinner. At a fancy restaurant. With politicians. Right after making a toast “to the beginning of all the great things yet to come.” It’s an awkward social situation that you want to avoid.

I’m not sure if one slug could take out a human, but there is a scene where one slug takes out a mouse. It gets on the mouse’s back and the mouse tries to put up a fight but nope, he gets wrestled by a slug. To be fair, this is probly a regular mouse, he is not a mutant. I don’t think that would be allowed in most legitimate interspecies animal wrestling competitions.

Despite all these powers it still helps the slugs out if the humans debilitate themselves using the ol’ bottle. The first guy they eat is a drunk who almost gets run over, then talks to a dog, and his house is a mess so he doesn’t notice the mutant slugs have infested his basement. You know how it is. We’ve all been there.

Then there’s the lady who comes home, pours herself a drink and gets too buzzed to notice the slug that she’s chopping up in a head of lettuce when she’s making the salad. For extra realism it’s established that she and her man noticed the salad was extra-salty but there were anchovies in it so they assumed that was the source of that flavor. And she must’ve remembered that she didn’t even wash the lettuce so maybe she assumed that was why it tasted like slug chunks.

And that’s not it. There’s also the cool sunglasses-wearing dude (probly about 35 years old) who pickes up a high school girl (probly at least 25), takes her home for sex and notices her father’s full bar. He’s enjoying a bottle of Jim Beam while fucking on the bed so they don’t notice the tens of thousands of slugs that managed to swarm the entire room so that when he puts a foot down on the floor he gets devoured.

I’m not sure why the girl didn’t notice, since she chose to abstain from drinking. Maybe it’s that post-HALLOWEEN slasher thing where if you have sex you’re most likely going to get killed. In fact, maybe the slugs have some kind of sexual hangup and that’s why they’re killing her. They got abused as baby slugs and they’re taking it out on humans. I don’t know, it’s based on a novel by Shaun Hutson. Maybe the book gets more into the psychology of the slugs.

They do talk about the slugs being hermaphrodites (if you said “hermaphro-whats!?” that’s the same thing one of the characters said) and being able to reproduce by themselves. Maybe as a result of that they’re disgusted by human sexual activity and are very judgmental about it. I mean I assumed they just said the hermaphrodite thing so that at the end when there was one slug left (SPOILER) it would be scary enough, they wouldn’t have to show two slugs and then somehow establish the gender of the two slugs so that you knew for sure they could mate. But there could be more to it. Their mutation might be larger size, faster muscles, stronger slime, sharp teeth and a sense of moral superiority.

Come to think of it maybe they’re just misogynistic slugs, because there’s a girl who gets left in the woods because she refuses to let a jock into her panties, then another guy wearing a Halloween mask tries to rape her, then instead of the slugs killing the rapist, as is standard horror movie procedure and a tried-and-true crowd pleaser, it’s the girl who falls in the water. If you fall in the water you’re in trouble, because slugs float around in there.

There are many great and memorable characters in SLUGS, such as whatsisdick, and the lady who has a jacket that says “Cheerleader,” but then it turns out she’s playing an adult, not a teen cheerleader, although she’s not much older than the adults playing teens. The sort of main guy, not sure what his name would be, he is the town health inspector so when he figures out what’s going on he tries to shut down the water supply, or at least declare a public health emergency, but his superior yells, “You ain’t got the authority to declare happy birthday. Not in this town!”

To be fair I don’t think he deserves the authority to declare happy birthday, because he’s not very helpful. When his house has slugs crawling out of the tap all he does is slam some of them with a frying pan, then leave his terrified, crying wife alone armed only with the pan and this advice: “Just hang in there, you’ll do fine.”

The sheriff has some pretty funny lines too. He’s supposed to be a tough talking sheriff, but I don’t think he’s willing to curse. He threatens to “shove my boot so far up your butt you’ll need a tow truck to get it out.” I don’t know man, I really think you gotta go with “ass” on a threat like that. “Butt” doesn’t got the right edge you’re looking for. At least you didn’t say “bottom” I guess.

So basically it ends up being this health inspector guy, his friend, and a scientist who take on the millions of slugs. Nobody else of note and of sound mind and body ever sees the slugs, even though they’re going around eating everybody and are literally on tap in some neighborhoods. They do move really fast for slugs, judging by some of these shots where they’re moving around (I’m not sure if it’s stop motion or sped up footage of real slugs, but it looks pretty cool) but then in some other shots it’s just a bunch of vaguely slug-shaped objects that don’t even move.

I forgot to mention that the slugs are apparently really good at covering their tracks, literally. The first eaten-up body that’s found, somehow there are no slime trails anywhere.

If you’re wondering how qualified the scientist guy is, never fear. #1, he wears a lab coat. #2, he spends all his time in a laboratory doing tests on slugs. Three, he has an accent. In fact when he’s chosen for help the one guy says he wants to talk to “your English friend,” indicating that it’s more important that he’s English than that he’s a scientist. Because that’s how you know he’s smart.

So the scientist figures out how to blow up the slugs using lithium. He never tried salt, in fact nobody did, although one guy thought of it when his wife joked about it, and he seemed excited. Then I guess he forgot.

They did figure out how to lure them all into one spot, but I already forget how they did it, if it was explained. I was hoping they’d put a keg of beer there as bait. Slugs like to crawl into discarded beer bottles.

There’s alot of brutal slug attacks, but the best kill is definitely in this greenhouse. The slugs attack a poor guy’s hand so he starts cutting off his own hand with an ax. Then somehow an electric cord gets loose and bumps a can of gasoline and blows the whole place up. I think it was entirely by accident, not intentional like in ORCA. But I still think it is something that slugs as a race can learn from and be proud of. I mean, when man discovered fire that was what put us on top, right? Any animal or bug race that discovers explosion… man, then it’s over in my opinion.

Obviously this is a shitty, ridiculous movie, but it has enough weirdness, gore and bad acting to be a big hit at like an all night horror marathon or Halloween get together of some kind. What makes it work is that it seems to be serious, it doesn’t come across like an intentionally campy movie. In the beginning I considered that it might be meant to be laughable, but if so they did a good job of convincing the actors to seem like they’re trying to make a real movie. I don’t remember much about PIECES other than it being completely insane, so my guess is that J.P. Simon is a little on the eccentric side and really thought he could pull off this scary slugs idea. Or maybe something was lost in the translation, since this is a Spanish-American co-production with some scenes shot in Spain with Spanish actors later dubbed into English. I don’t know, are slugs considered scary in Spain?

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, October 18th, 2010 at 12:30 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

49 Responses to “Slugs”

  1. horror or horrible?

  2. I quote Wikipedia:
    “Traditional Spanish cuisine also uses snails, consuming several species such as Cryptomphalus aspersus, Otala punctata, Helix pisana, or Helix alonensis among others. […] There are even snails celebration, as the “Aplec del cargol”, which takes place in Lleida each May and draws more than 200,000 visitors from abroad. Small to medium-size varieties are usually cooked in several spicy sauces or even in soups and eaten as appetizer.”

    So, yeah, in Spain a horror movie about slugs wreaking revenge on the people who eat them makes kinda sense. “Horror Del Cargol” must’ve been the original Spanish title.

  3. Kind of reminds me of “The Deadly Spawn”. It’s an ’83 very low-budget movie about an alien swarm of slugs with mouths and theet . They look more like that telephone thing from Nightmare , only more red . There’s also a similar scene where one of the deadly spawn is chopped up and mixed with a salad . Man , you can sure do an Halloween double-feature about killer slugs with these two movies . Hell you can even add Night of the Creeps , but make sure you watch it last !

    On a side note , I want to know if anyone here has ever eaten a slug. I know , it sounds crazy , but here in Italy, in some regions , they’re considered delicious . I’m not making this up , they even have early-morning slug-catching expeditions , to catch them “fresh” , like hunting or something .

  4. I love the German trailer for this, because it features a hilarious pun with the words “schrecklich” (horrible) and “Schnecke” (Slug). Yes, the pun is “schnecklich”. :D

  5. I always thought they were giant bovine sized slugs in this. I seem to remember the slug on the case of the video looking very big. Unless I’m thinking of another slug movie.

  6. There is a solution to the slug problem: Cane toads! I recommend watching this horror comedy documentary about said toads, its brilliant:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mvV8OT-mmE

  7. @ CJ

    haha, thats so bad its actually funny

  8. Never saw the flick but I remember going through a Shaun Hutson phase when I was about 14, mostly because his books were so over-the-top grotesque that they were hilarious

    Slugs stands out in particular for having a health inspector for a hero, which is kind of weird, and for the bit where the slugs kill the woman (maybe the one referenced in the review) by slithering up her vagina and eating her from the inside out

    I’m guessing that bit isn’t in the film which is a shame because creepy body invasion is really the only weapen in a slug’s arsenal

    Except fangs and poison slime I guess

  9. So Shaun Huston also wrote the novelisation of the original “Terminator” (before Jim Cameron, in a little revisionist history, had a new novelisation written and published along with the “T2” one) and his B grade pulpy style suited “Terminator” perfectly. Well worth hunting down if you like a good movie novelisation, especially one with that authentic pulpy feel that only a true pulp author can bring.

    Vern, while we’re on crappy 70’s bugs on the loose flicks in which a character does serious harm to their own hand in a vain attempt to get rid of some creepy crawlies, may I heartily recommend “Kingdom of the Spiders”? It’s like “The Birds”, only with tarantulas instead of birds and William Shatner instead of Tippi Hedren. Do I really need to say more?

  10. Oh yeah Kuryakin, I read the book. They kill the health inspectors friend at the end of the film, by slithering up his arse!

    Book kind of pissed me off though. I only picked it up because it was 150 pages long and figured that it would help a journey pass. There’s no way this can be considered a serious horror book, as like Vern said ‘They’re fucking slugs!’ But at the same time, I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy it as horror-comedy, as there were far too many horrible child deaths! Slugs up an arse was funny though.

    As for the film. I watched it when I was about 10 years old. I was always certain the the health inspector was played by Jeff Fahey. Shit, when you can’t get Fahey involved with your B movie, you really are fucked.

  11. This review made me think of this awful movie The Food of the Gods, that I tried to watch a few months ago. You would think something that included a 30 ft tall killer chicken could hold your attention and be campy fun, but nope, it’s just awful.

  12. The original Paul

    October 18th, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Vern, this is truly one of your best reviews. The opening line had me giggling like a twelve-year-old at the dentist on laughing gas after the hot dental nurse has just broken wind. After reading your review, I’m convinced it’s going to be at least seven (7) times more entertaining than the killer slug movie would ever be.

  13. dieselboy: Ever since I saw SLEEPER years ago I have been waiting for a good 30 ft tall killer chicken movie. One day they’ll get it right.

  14. Great review, one of your best for a while.

    remember the book from a phase at high school (something about the gore and sex in the books appealed to me when i was around 14-15), pretty nasty but so was the sequel and another about a fog or mist that drove people mad. (Didn’t he also write about the dead person returning to his family as the dog ?)

    Have to agree with you though Vern, there is something just plain wrong about slugs and to be honest it kinda freaks me out that something i could dissolve with salt or just stamp on can turn my stomach if i find one of those little bastards crawling into the house
    .

  15. Shaun Huston is my country’s Dean Koontz to our Stephen King, Clive Barker. He has even inspired a popular-ish comedy character called Garth Marenghi. I’ve heard the reason a new TERMINATOR novelisation was written at the time of T2 is that the original was considered far too nasty, don’t know if that’s true or not.

  16. Oh my God, I LOVE Garth Marengi! Now I have to check out Huston’s books. :D

  17. Garth Merenghi kicks ass. Here’s two questions for the British people-1. Is it true that the government puts cameras in your house to watch the first six months of babies lives? and 2. Are you allowed to own guns?
    I really doubt the first one is true, but my neighbor brought it up the other day, and I have yet to prove him wrong.

  18. And Who is supposed to Watch a Six month 24 hours Stream of à Baby in His cradle? Sounds kinda stupid. Even with all the cameras they already have over there.

  19. Its just about the only place there are no cameras over here. And I own a shootah, so shat it you slaaag!

  20. “Killer slugs? What’s next demented crickets?”

    Good shit. Slugs is fun 80’s cheese any way you slice it.

  21. Okay, thanks guys. I was getting worried for a bit.

  22. This one´s from my country. Juan Piquer Simon, the director, was an expert in cheesy exploitation. Every trash cinema lover should watch Supersonic Man.

  23. Also, i can´t eat snails -yuck-, but a lot of people around here love that shit.

  24. So, it looks like Argento’s GAILLO –which I was really hoping would be a return to him actually trying– got unceremoniously dumped on DVD today. Thats not encouraging, but maybe the suits just didn’t understand it. Anyone here seen it and want to give me hope?

  25. PIECES!!! Frickin’ amazingly crazy movie. “Too much Chop Suey!”

    Vern, since you don’t remember much about it, I strongly suggest you review it. It is absolutely batshit crazy.

  26. The original Paul

    October 18th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Loudabagel – Ace Mac is correct. We don’t have telescreens over here. Yet.

    Technically you can own guns but there are strict licensing requirements regarding how you store them, etc. Not that I’ve ever tried to get one, so Ace is probably better to answer that one than I am.

  27. The original Paul

    October 18th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Also, I would watch the demented crickets movie. I’ve seen movies about mutant piranhas, killer bees, all-devouring swarms of ants, snakes (in both ridiculously large and venomously fun-sized varieties), scorpions, and about half a dozen different movies featuring killer spiders of some description or another. So crickets would be right up my alley.

  28. Did they ever make a movie about a deadly swarm of mosquitos? If not, I’m gonna write one immediately! During the last few weeks I had so many of these fuckers in my bedroom, that I stopped counting after I squished #31. My walls are still covered with their corpses, so I can still count them.
    Seriously, there were so many of them, that I even made a jingle for Mosquito Massacre 2010!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw3SYMg-b34

    (They are still better than swans, though…)

  29. Ok, here’s my thing. I like to watch good bad movies. Not bad bad movies. Slugs? Ewwww!

  30. Its damn near impossible to legally own guns in the UK. And I’ve only got a shotgun for hunting clay pigeons and don’t keep ol’ painless in my own home. Its not like I’m running round with two glocks like Chow Yun Fat. No, I am just like that, with two shotguns killing hundreds of clay bastards.

  31. There are a couple of Mosquito movies. There is Skeeter, there is Mansquito and then there is just play Mosquito. The only problem is they’re all giant masquitos but still.

  32. So I guess I have to write a killer mosquito swarm movie. Not scary you say? Imagine how a body looks like, that has not one single drop of blood inside, but is covered in thousands and thousands of mosquito bites?

  33. Subtlety,

    GIALLO is coming in from Netflix for me tomorrow, which I plan to promptly watch. I will let you know what I think, but I’m trying to set my expectations low.

  34. Mansquito is great (well, as great as a SyFy movie can be I guess).

    A dude turns into a Cronenbergian mosquitoman (also the film’s alternate title) and then gets an aggressive urgre to MATE. Good shit.

    Also you can’t lose because Parker Lewis is the grizzled detective on the case.

  35. You can’t lose? Because of Parker Lewis? I see what you did there, Jack Burton. Well done.

  36. Slugs are GROSSSSSSSSS so i can see them being horrific
    Food of the Gods is based on an HG Wells novel
    Garth Marenghi is hilarious, but i thought he was partly based on Stephen King
    snails are tasty

  37. Well done on the Parker Lewis joke.

  38. Vern – since it’s building to Halloween, now would be a great time to review the mighty Aussie film Cut – which is a uniquely Australian take on the shitty slasher movie.

    It’s actually pretty damn funny, with those weird touches you like so much.

    It’s even on Netflix streaming :).

  39. Too late bud, I did it last year:

    http://outlawvern.com/2009/11/03/popcorn-vs-cut/

    (if you looked for it it doesn’t show up because those damned double reviews can only be listed once the way this thing is programmed)

  40. Wait a minute – also you were the one that recommended it to me back then, and you thanked me for the review in the comments. Stop double-recommending! You’re confusing me.

  41. Saw this years ago. I feel sorry for all viewers.

    To correct (sorry) slugs are indeed hermaphrowhatic, but they cannot reproduce
    independently. You still need two slugs. A single slug may be lonely, may even carry a grudge that haunts him/her to
    the end of his/her days, perhaps to the end tune of the Incredible Hulk (TV).
    But it’s not going to start multiplying – otherwise there would be a lot more slugs.
    Although maybe there are, but I’ve been drinking and haven’t noticed.

    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal (sp?) ate a slug in his TV show in Britain.
    Apparently it tasted pretty bad, but his eyes remained firmly ensconced in their sockets.

  42. I feel that I should put in another good word for MANSQUITO before the scary-bugs thread completely dies. MANSQUITO is an extremely rare (there are those who say they don’t exist) example of a SciFi channel original which is actually as good as the name implies…
    its a bit older but the effects are good and its surprisingly well-directed and I’m looking at it now on IMBD and Whaaaaaaat the fuuuuuuuuccccccckkkkk it was directed by Tibor Tackacs of THE GATE and I, MADMAN fame?!?!?!?!?!?

    WATCH THAT SHIT RIGHT NOW.

  43. Mr. S: Are you sure you’re not thinking of MOSQUITO MAN? Are they the same movie? Is it a sin to waste our short time on this earth pondering these questions when we could be feeding the hungry?

  44. Sorry Vern – caught a case of the fucktards this morning. Now you mention it, I even recall.

    Off topic – I’m gonna be spending a bunch of time in Seattle this year – you got any bars you recommend?

  45. Apparently MANSQUITO is called MOSQUITO MAN here in Germany and HOLY SHIT, while I wrote this, suddenly a spider roped itself down from the ceiling right in front of my eyes. While I (yes, I. My sister was already sleeping.) was getting rid of it, I noticed three more. All around my bed. Are spiders and mosquitos friends? This might be the payback for Mosquito Massacre 2010. I probably won’t survive this night.

  46. Mr. M — same movie, two titles (one vastly preferable, for obvious reasons. see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mansquito for further confirmation) If you haven’t seen it — see it before feeding the hungry. Its that important.

  47. That wikipedia entry is awesome for introducing the phrase “half man half squito” into the vernacular.

    I will check out the film. I’ve always wondered if any of Takacs’ later work displayed any of the promise he showed in I, MADMAN and THE GATE.

  48. Just watched SQUIRM by JUST BEFORE DAWN director Jeff Lieberman, about mutant worms (they have teeth, like SLUGS) besieging a small town and some nerdy city boy visiting his yokel girlfriend. And it was actually pretty good! It’s got a good focus on character, it’s shot pretty nice, they really dug up a ton of worms for this thing, and I dunno I guess not 100% of the worm deaths are silly and implausible. Certainly deserves more than the 3.7 rating it has on IMDB right now.

  49. When it comes to so bad it’s good horror movies about man eating animals, there’s nothing more stupid than Night of the Lepus (1972). The poster says; Giant mutant rabbits terrorize the southwest!! It should have said; Fluffy bunnies play among miniature sets! You should check it out, Vern.

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