31 Days Of Horror #3: Slugs (1988)
Slugs is awful. Absolutely awful. And I love it. But I don’t love it in an unobjective way. It has major failings that don’t stop it from being hugely entertaining, and then it has many other aspects that almost make the whole thing unwatchable. I’ll never forget seeing Shaun Hutson interview by Jonathan Ross one night on UK TV and being asked about this film. I believe a clip was shown, Ross chuckled, and asked what exactly had happened. To paraphrase the reply from Hutson: “They came in, gave me a big cheque, and then said, oh by the way, what does a slug look like?” And that’s exactly the level of care that shows onscreen.
It doesn’t seem right to try describing the plot in any detail. Suffice to say, there are some killer slugs causing problems and a couple of guys (played by Michael Garfield and Philip MacHale) get together to hopefully defeat them. There are some dodgy dealings going on, a couple of horny teens who may end up in danger, and an exasperated Sheriff (John Battaglia). There’s also an attractive woman who likes to drink too much (played by Alicia Moro) and another attractive woman (Kim Terry) who seems to be in the mix simply to remind viewers that her husband, the main character, isn’t actually an asshole to everyone he encounters.
Horror fans will probably know director Juan Piquer Simón best from his work on the ludicrously entertaining Pieces. While this isn’t on a par with that film (hell, what is?), it certainly displays his tendency to throw around enough bloodshed and gore in lieu of any actual logic or realism. The fact that it took three people to write the script almost beggars belief, but Simón gets to share the blame with José Antonio Escrivá and Ron Gantman in that department. I suspect that someone quickly realised they hadn’t exactly picked up the rights to the next Jaws, leading to a mad scramble to piece together something that would distract viewers from the laughable premise.
Although I am grateful to everyone involved for the fun that this movie has given me, the acting from everyone concerned is pretty dire. Which, of course, adds to the fun. Garfield is particularly amusing, especially in any scenes that feature snappy dialogue between himself and Battaglia. MacHale doesn’t have to reel off any smartass lines, which leaves him better off, and both Terry and Moro suffer whenever they have to be simpering women under duress.
If you’re a connoisseur of bad cinema then you must check this out. It has at least one or two near-infamous sequences, it’s impossible to take as a serious horror, and some of the dialogue ranks up there (or down there) with the very best of the bad. This review may be unflattering, I admit, but don’t let that make you forget just how much affection I have for this. And I hope some others feel the same way.
Slugs has recently been released on Bluray by Arrow Video, and what a glorious beast it is. Picture and sound quality are excellent, and there are plenty of bonus features. The undeniable coup is a commentary track involving Shaun Hutson, but you also get another commentary track (“appreciation” for the film from Chris Alexander), numerous featurettes (about acting in the film, about the special effects, promo material, and also a look at the locations), and a booklet containing some new writing from Michael Gingold. Love or hate the film, this is an essential package that provides a lot of fun for those who enjoy delving into extra features.
DIRECTOR: JUAN PIQUER SIMÓN
WRITER: JOSÉ ANTONIO ESCRIVÁ, RON GANTMAN, JUAN PIQUER SIMÓN, BASED ON THE NOVEL BY SHAUN HUTSON
STARS: MICHAEL GARFIELD, KIM TERRY, PHILIP MACHALE, ALICIA MORO, JOHN BATTAGLIA
RUNTIME: 92 MINS APPROX