Tuesday, August 1, 2017

SLITHER (2006) (Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review)

SLITHER (2006) 
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 96 Minutes
Rating: R
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0, Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Don Thompson, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, Jenna Fischer, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Tania Saulnier

Synopsis: The sleepy town of Wheelsy could be any small town in America -- somewhat quaint and gentle, peopled with friendly folks who mind their own business. But just beneath the surface charm, something unnamed and evil has arrived...and is growing. Intent on devouring all life on Earth, this dark and slimy entity is infecting anyone in its path. Now it's up to the local sheriff, Bill Pardy, and his team to stop the spread of rampant devastation – and shocking mutilation – before it's too late. This outrageously funny horror film also stars Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Banks and Gregg Henry.

Slither (2006) has long been one of my favorite horror/comedy entries from the mid-2000s, a sci-fi slimefest loaded with laughs, set in the small town of Wheelsy, South Carolina where a meteorite from space has landed in the woods, inside it is an alien parasite, which is happened upon by local yokel Grant Grant (Michael Rooker, Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer) who is out in the woods one night with the local bar trollop named Brenda (Brenda James), cheating on his wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks, The 40 Year-Old Virgin). He and his date spot the creepy remnants of the meteorite and go in close to investigate, the parasite in their shoots a  stinger at him that burrows its way into his body and into his brain, where it begins to take over Grant, his body slowly beginning to transform into a gooey tentacled creature, and also instilling him with an insatiable hunger for raw meat - none of the local pets are safe as Grant sets up an impromptu nest/meat locker in his basement. The transformation begins to manifests as a rash on his face and chest which he attributes to a bee sting, but soon he develops a pair of sex-tentacles on his chest, impregnating poor Brenda with his alien sperm, and soon she becomes a grotesque incubator for his slug-like offspring, which are unleashed on the small town inhabitants, crawling into the mouths of human and taking over their minds. Those they infect become hive-minded zombie drones with a craving for human flesh, all under the control of the now grotesquely tentacled Grant Grant, whose alien mind is now consumed with impregnating his human wife. 

Such a fun watch, a mid budget b-movie that delivers of the gore and the goo in spades, the Grant Grant monster looking sort of like the Lovecraftian creature from Stuart Gordon's From Beyond (1986), the movie itself riffing on several beloved sci-fi horror classics like The Blob (1988) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Cronenberg's body horror classic Shivers (1975), and a somewhat conspicuously unacknowledged Night of the Creeps (1986), which is never mentioned by director/writer James Gunn in interviews or extras as an influence, though anyone with even a cursory knowledge of that 80s sci-fi classic will no doubt recognize the story of a parasite infused meteorite causing havoc in a small town along with legions of slimy slugs who like to crawl into people's mouths and take them over - the influence is undeniable, but you sort of get the impression that maybe the lawyers said, "hey, don't mention that movie, it might be trouble", ha ha. I'm fine with some 80s b-movie theft, it's long been said that good artists borrow and great artists just outright steal, and poor Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps) is still in movie jail after the awful Robocop 3 (1993) and James Gunn has gone on to write and direct both of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy films, so it appears to be true!
Michael Rooker is awesome as Grant Grant, a local guy done good for himself, he's a bit of an ass but he truly does come across as someone who loves his wife, he makes a mistake stepping out on his wife, but Rooker makes it apparent that the character does love his lady Starla, played by Elizabeth Banks. You can see him fighting his instinctive alien urge to impregnate her with his alien offspring. There's a fun cast of characters here we have Nathan Fillion (TV's Serenity) as the local sheriff Bill Pardy, who once had a fire burning for Starla, which is re-ignited during the movie, then we have Greg Henry (Body Double) as Mayor Jack MacReady, a true small town asshole played for laughs, Gunn always writes great characters and this one is front-loaded with fun personalities that keep the laughs coming. 

The sci-fi gore is phenomenal and plentiful, lots of ooze, slime and bloodshed for the horror fan, the Grant Grant monster is ever evolving a awesome, multiple tentacles, mounds of lumpy flesh, and with a hideous toothy grimace. The hive minded slug creatures are fun, a few scenes look a bit too digital at times, but they're cool, and the scene of the overly-impregnated Brenda literally bursting at the seams with alien-slugs is a highlight, t;s a nice touch when she begs the posse that discovers her in a barn to give her a bit of possum to eat, just good stuff all around, a great mix of campiness, special effects and laughs that has not waned in the years since it's release. 

Audio/Video: Slither (2006) arrives on Blu-ray for the first time in the US from Scream Factory, framed in 1080p HD widescreen (1.85:1), it looks to have been sourced from an HD master supplied by Universal, as scream Factory did not advertise it as a new 2K scan. Colors look natural and nicely bright, black levels are decent, and there's some nice moments of fine detail, and the gore and slimy creature effects looks wonderful in HD. The disc comes with both English DTS-HD MA 2.0 and 5.1, the surround mix is lively and creates some nice spacial orientation, fleshing out the score Tyler Bates (Doomsday) nicely throughout.

Onto the extras we have the already plentiful extras from the Universal DVD, about an hour's worth in total, plus a host of extras beginning with a brand new audio commentary from  writer/director James Gunn and actors Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker, a half hour interview with director James Gunn, who speaks enthusiastically about the movie, his time with Troma, and making this film,and what a trooper Michael Rooker was for putting up with the physical tortures of being in those creature make-ups.

There's also an 8-min interview with Greg Henry who speaks about his role, giving credit to the writing for already establishing the Mayor's character without much improv on set, recalling working with the cast, the makeup process,  and reciting a few choice lines from the film.  

This release comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, featuring the original one sheet movie poster and a new illustration from Scream regular Justin Osbourn, which is also featured on the limited edition slipcover.  

Special Features:
- NEW Audio Commentary with writer/director James Gunn and actors Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker
- NEW The Genesis of SLITHER – an interview with writer/director James Gunn (30 min) HD
- NEW The Other MacReady – an interview with actor Gregg Henry (8 min) HD
- Audio commentary with James Gunn and Nathan Fillion
- Deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary by James Gunn 8 min) HD
- Visual Effects: Step by Step (5 min)
- Slithery Set Tour with actor Nathan Fillion (5 min)
- The Sick Minds and Slimy Days of SLITHER (10 min)
- Brewing the Blood – How to Make Blood (3 min)
- Bringing SLITHER’s Creatures to Life )19 min)
- Lloyd Kaufman’s Video Diary(9 min)
- Gag Reel (9 min)
- Who is Bill Pardy? featurette (5 min)
- Theatrical Trailer (1 min) HD

Well, it took long enough but Scream Factory finally give us a U.S. Blu-ray, not counting the HDDVD release, of James Gunn's phenomenal sci-fi horror comedy Slither (2006). The A/V looks and sounds great and the extras are plentiful and entertaining, still one of the better horror comedies to come out in the wake of Shaun of the Dead (2004)