Well, I guess reviewing Slugs was pretty much inevitable for this here film blogzone thing. I do like to occasionally dip my toe into the world of low budget so-bad-they’re-good movies. Boy did I get one here. Recommended to me by a Twitter follower known as Once_Tricky, so I have him to blame for this, Slugs is a film about a town under siege by toxic, flesh eating slugs. I’m pretty sure The Goodies did a sketch like this. So, what is Slugs actually like… Click the link and I’ll try my best to explain.
Slugs is a film. Of that much I am certain. Allegedly produced in 1988, the film has that bizarre, off centre feel that’s really normally reserved for the likes of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. It’s one of those film feels that seems to come from a perfect storm of era, budget and foreign director that US directors are just incapable of mimicking. The dialogue is staccato. Many of the cast appear to have been entirely dubbed over from speaking their native Spanish. This is painfully obvious in a scene were the protagonist Mike Brady (Michael Garfield) goes to convince a character called Frank Phillips (Frank Bana) to help stop the killer slugs. Frank’s overdubbing doesn’t even remotely match his dialogue. Oh, and he dies on the toilet because that is the type of film Slugs is.
Did you notice that I didn’t do a full synopsis of the film’s basic plot at the start of this review like I normally do? That’s because the one line above regarding killer slugs really does sum it all up. There’s characters, some intend to stop the slugs, many don’t believe it is slugs. There’s some teenagers. And that’s about it. The film really is that laser focused on the idea of slugs eating people alive. As a delivery method of death being eaten by slugs is probably one step above being eaten by Death Bed. At least the slugs can move and maybe surprise you by hiding in a glove or something. Because slugs aren’t traditionally regarded as effective a killing machine as, say, SHAKMAAAAA!!!!… ahem… because slugs suck are killing things some extremely convoluted death situations must be constructed. Allow me to describe a few.
Death by slug in glove that makes man pull shelving over and then he cuts his hand off. His wife then comes to his rescue and something causes a fire which blows them both ups and most of their house. That explosion is reused in the film’s finale.
Death by eating diced slug which contained toxic parasites which grow inside a guy until violently exploding from his eyes just as he clinched a big construction deal. Dunno if that one can be credited to the slugs.
Death by sexing and then falling out of bed onto a floor full of slugs because you didn’t notice they were there due to all the sexing you were doing. Boyfriend then falls into slugs too.
Death by being in a room full of vegetables in storage and actually I have no idea how this guy died we just cut to his body in this room and then his stomach explodes.
So yeah, Slugs ain’t subtle. To be fair to it, on a purely gore level, it’s actually pretty great. Some of the gore effects are done pretty well for a film that looks like it was made in 1972. Man does it feel like it was made in 1972. The music in the early goings of the film is pure 70s light drama. The sort of thing you’d expect to hear accompanying a blonde permed man wearing flairs, carrying nondescript folders, as he walks down a street with a massive grin on his face. During the middle part of the film the composer appears to have remembered that this was a horror film and has some vaguely appropriate music playing. The film ends with suitably dramatic music cues, that reminded me a lot of the Sunbow Entertainment cartoons like G.I. Joe in the 80s. When Mike’s wife turns up at the very end, suddenly we’re into 70s romantic comedy territory. I refuse to believe this was made in 1988. Even Argento’s American films didn’t feel this out of time.
Despite what I have written for the past 700-ish words, I kinda love Slugs. It’s trashy, and ropey. I’d even go as far to say damn near actual amateurish at times. It likes to hang on shots of slugs to make sure you know how gross they are, accompanied by the same squidgy, slimy sound effect. But that’s one of those things that just adds to it’s weirdness. There’s a British… sort of… scientist that delivers some of the most brilliant lines of exposition you’ll ever here. It’s the sort of wonky B-Movie I can fully get behind. It may not be the sort or good-bad movie that’s filled with genuine belly laughs, like your Troll 2s and Samurai Cops, but it is stupidly entertaining enough to get a free pass, and endearing enough to earn your love.
I’ve mentioned a few times before that a film’s honesty matters. That a film should present its premise and stay true to it, never pretending the premise is anything other than what it is. It’s an odd issue these days where films are trying really hard to appeal to so many people that they forget that they’re making a film about a really dumb, cartoonish concept. I get the impression that director J.P. Simon knew he wasn’t making high art. He knew the film had to be trashy and by his limited means he’d provide one of the silliest horror films around. Slugs is maybe played a little too straight but that steadfast commitment to being serious just elevates the absurdity. Slugs knows it is junk food and is happy to provide with the eyeball exploding craziness you’d want when picking out random 80s horror films. Remember when horror films were really gory? I miss that. Slugs is cool. Watch it or something.