Slugs (1988)

Slugs (1988)

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Wouldn't get this in the Cotswolds...
Wouldn’t get this in the Cotswolds…

Twitter Plot Summary: Killer slugs wreak havoc in a small American town. Yeah – killer slugs.

Five Point Summary:

1. So apparently slugs are perverts.

2. Death by slug! And epic explosion.

3. Half dressed woman in front of him, and he goes straight to the alcohol.

4. Women don’t like it when you try force-feeding them pizza.
5. English scientists cannot open manhole covers.

Never would it occur to any sane person that slugs could be a potential villain for a creature feature. Come on now – they’re slugs. Just pour some salt on them, that’ll end it. This wouldn’t be much of a movie though, so with that in mind these slugs can bite and draw blood. Whilst it’s inherently ludicrous, Slugs scores highly for its concept alone. They’re really the last creature you’d expect to have evil intentions. It’s helped by the fact that everybody involved takes it so very, very seriously, to the point where it almost falls out the other side of serious and becomes an Airplane clone. Adding to this overly serious tone is the original orchestral score, bringing an element of the old Hitchcock classics to proceedings.

The plot is one we’ve seen a thousand times before – two guys, the local health inspector among them, join forces with a terribly English slug expert after a strain of killer slugs created by toxic waste start plaguing a small town in America. Naturally they’re laughed at by the local authorities, until it’s all too late. Of course.

Further cliches abound – sex-crazed teenagers get both barrels of the Slug-Gun (so to speak), as their sexual awakening is tempered by the “rampaging” slugs and a few lusty teenagers die horrible deaths. Therein lies many of the problems with the story – most of those who die do so in places where slugs are usually found. Surely the easiest way around this is to not go into gardens or sewers or open drains, yet somehow many characters find themselves in these situations and meet a grisly demise as a result. Other than a couple of brief moments where the slugs actually invade people’s homes – the horror! – much of the violence could have easily been avoided.

Should've had something other than the Bloody Mary.
Should’ve had something other than the Bloody Mary.

There’s blood and gore aplenty, and some of the death sequences deserve praise for either being so ridiculous that they’re brilliant, or for covering the usual tropes and cliches but replacing the usual killer creature – bees, sharks and so on – with slugs. Most of these deaths are perhaps unintentionally hilarious – there’s even a scene in a restaurant that in many ways could be a companion piece to Monty Python’s Mr Creosote sketch. It’s deliciously gruesome yet incredibly funny at the same time. From a directorial perspective, the main method of making the slugs look threatening involves zooming in on normal slugs incredibly slowly, accompanied by some sinister orchestral music. Take away the music and you’d just have some slugs, there’s nothing inherently creepy or scary about them.

By the finale, where we have two identically dressed men in yellow suits trying to avoid being eaten alive in the sewers beneath the town, you’ve known since the opening act how it will end. Ignoring the fact that these toxic slugs appear to explode violently when set alight, you know that there will be at least one left to wreak havoc another day. Luckily for us, that day has never happened. Not yet, anyway.

Score: 3/5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxItlbv0mQw

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