I don’t know if I need to put on a blindfold and stand before a firing squad for what I’m about to admit, but I’ll do it if it’s absolutely necessary.
Ahem. I fucking love Juan Piquer Simón’s sliminal Slugs: The Movie. It had probably been 20 years or so since I’d seen it at 9 or 10, and I really had no recollection of anything that happened – just a memory that 100% of it was genuine schlock. I’d watched it several times with my best friend at the time, and we’d laugh hysterically in between fabricating fear of all the film’s awesome gore. That said, I couldn’t have known at the time how inept this film really is. How gloriously, slime-trailingly inept.
Unmistakably entrenched in the ‘80s, Slugs is a rather disgusting creature feature relayed with all the storytelling aplomb of the barrel-bottoming science fiction from the 1950s, down to everyone’s “gee golly” attitude and clichéd speech. We’re going to pretend this feature is taking place at a time before the word “spoilers” was so commonplace, and I’m going to pretend you’ve already seen this thing.
From the very first second of the very first scene, Slugs is a real piece of shit. A couple is out on the water, and somehow the guy gets dragged down beneath the water, soon to be replaced by a bubbling volcano of blood. Considering the rest of this movie is about larger-than-average slugs that eat people, there isn’t a single plausible thing about this scene. How is a slug, or even a team of slugs, going to pull someone underwater, and what is going to propel the blood up to the surface that quickly? Nothing. Slugs should win the 1988 award for whatever category that kind of opening scene falls into.
Admittedly, the last 25 minutes or so – when people are beginning to figure out the film’s single plotline of “killer slugs are in them there sewers” – aren’t nearly as enjoyable as the opening hour, as they contain a lot more of the action and less of the dialogue. And by action, I just mean people running around doing things. And the dialogue is mostly contained to things like, “There are slugs in the sewers killing people,” and reactions like, “You ain’t got enough authority to declare Happy Birthday!” So that’s something.
For a good while, this is one of the most mind-blowingly terrible/amazing films out there. While the backbone of the plot follows the eventual slug discovery by Michael Garfield’s Mike Brady (here’s a story…) and his school teacher wife, Kim (Kim Terry), this is less a film than just a series of vignettes of the town’s mentally gumballed citizens as their lives are disrupted by the slugs. And barely anyone makes it out of this thing alive, so that is a lot of stupidity meeting its demise. I have a feeling if the acting ability of everyone in this film were combined and injected into one person, that person would still lose an audition to one of the musicians from the Showbiz Pizza band.
Also stinking up the screen are a scientist and a sanitation department worker assisting Mike Brady in his ongoing efforts to figure out the situation. How do we know he’s a scientist? Every shot in his lab has some sort of a glass beaker or tube in the shot. Also, he wears glasses. How do we know the other guy is a sanitation department worker? He works in a tiny shitty office and answers his giant cordless phone saying, “Yeah, Sanitation Department.”
A shortlist of the film’s most fantastic moments:
*There is a shot of a head of lettuce slightly moving as ominous music reaches its crescendo.
*An old drunk man screams at the slugs, telling them not to hurt him.
*Least sexy sex in any ‘80s film ever. Groans are looped in sound editing.
*As fire hits a gas can, it blows up an entire greenhouse, and this is far from the only over-the-top explosion.
*Entire surfaces covered in slugs, and people landing on them.
*Nosebleed into a water glass.
This is the kind of film where you might expect someone to turn around, and the bags under their eyes are actually slugs. I gotta write that one down. Done. I will not let another 20 years go by before I watching this massacre again. But I’m also not walking into my backyard without shoes for another couple of days.
See Slugs: The Movie if you like: The movies that regularly appear on MST3K and the How Did This Get Made podcast, haphazard arguments that slugs are wiping out town populations, cordless phones, films that spend more money on special effects than editing.
Thanks for reading, guys! Check back next Friday for another new look at another non-new film, and remember to always pack your giant salt shakers.