While Juan Piqeur Simón’s 1988 infestation horror Slugs can hardly stand up to the broad appeal of the similarly-themed Arachnophobia, Critters or Tremors, its doubling down on the splatter factor ensures the film’s place in the pantheon of B-grade creature features. With a barely-functional script that recycles virtually every cliche in the book, Slugs is nevertheless a consistently entertaining tour of incoherent plotting, dreadful performances and surprisingly good special effects.
Opening with the lake-based munching of a swimming teenager, Slugs brushes over the question of whether the eponymous critters even live underwater before jumping to the main plot, which centres around the arrival of the mutated carnivorous molluscs in a small American mid-western town. Our hero, public health inspector Mike Brady, begins to sense something is amiss when the local drunk is found dead in his own house, apparently devoured. His flesh chewed to the bone and worms writhing in the eye sockets of his skull, it’s a genuinely disturbing, visceral image.
Undoubtedly, the film’s special effects are Slugs‘ strong suit: a man chopping off his own hand, post- coital teens chomped-up on their bedroom floor, and the pièce de résistance, blood flukes erupting from a man’s face in the middle of a fancy business lunch, are equal parts revolting, raucous and blackly hysterical. The sight of a slug biting Mike Brady’s finger merits mention, too, if only because the puppeting wizardry at work is matched by the sheer silliness of the imagery. It’s a matter of debate whether the film’s weaker aspects – its script, performances and score – simply add to Slugs’ charm.
There are moments in Slugs
that approach Troll 2
levels of bad, with characters spouting such corkers as “maybe, just maybe we’re dealing with a kind of mutant slug here,” and “you don’t have the authority to declare happy birthday, not in this town.” By any standards of conventional quality these moments are awful, but they also have unquestionable entertainment value. With its silly concept, third-rate script and performances that are simultaneously over the top and wooden, Slugs
epitomises much of the appeal of 1980s horror cinema. Its favouring of visceral revulsion over dramatic tension may deter general audiences, but for fans of the ludicrous and the gross, Slugs
has much to offer.
Christopher Machell | @Dr_Machell