I prepared for my first weekend working on the San Francisco Sex Information training staff as an intern by staying out really last last night watching James Gunn’s excellent horror flick Slither. If you have to get up at 8 AM to teach an all-day class on how to be a sex educator, I don’t necessarily recommend late-night movies about squirmy sperm-like creatures from space, largely due to the sleep-deprivation problem. But make no mistake — Slither is about sex.
My favorite kinds of horror movies are equal parts social commentary and big slimy monsters, the more grotesque the better. Slither is a hilarious satire of dead-end marriages, life in a small town, and what happens to sex in the context of both. Big hint: the sex is a little bit awful. It involves arm-sized sperm creatures plunging into various people’s mouths, and sharp tentacles penetrating their bodies, pumping them full of goo and turning them into barn-sized blobs who snarf dead animals and eventually “give birth to” the aforementioned alien sperm thingies via gory explosion.
Our main character is a Starla (Elizabeth Banks), a nice-girl teacher married to a philandering older man who pressures her to have sex and manipulates her with his status and money. Not surprisingly, he’s also the first person infected by the alien creature, and later becomes the giant drippy mastermind of the sperm (who eat people’s brains and turn them into sperm zombies). Lots of running and sperm-zombie killing fill out the main action sequences in the film, and a witty script makes the violence more like slapstick than sadism. At every turn, Starla is pursued by the sperm-zombies, whose minds are controlled by her husband — they alternately leer at her, berate her for neglecting her “wifely duties,” and call her a cheating slut.
Slither is great fun for anyone who loves gloopy special effects, and for people who like to analyze the crap out of pop culture. Plus, Nathan Fillion (AKA Firefly‘s Captain Tightpants) stars. Check it out!