Countdown to Halloween #7: Slugs (1988)

One from the re-watch pile…
Slugs (1988)

Arrow Films’ Slugs: awesome art by Wes Benscoter

Film: I am an unabashed total fan of director Juan Piquer (J. P.) Simon, even though, to my knowledge I have only seen three of his films: Satan’s Blood, Pieces and this film, Slugs.

Slugs was something I first discovered as a book by Shaun Hutson when I was going through my ‘read everything by Shaun Hutson’ phase as a teenager. Still today I have no problem, on a sleepless night, sitting in a comfortable chair, a warm milk, a tray of biscuits and a well molested copy of Slugs in my hands.

Somewhere along the line I stopped reading Hutson’s books, but the appearance of Simon’s Slugs film excited me more that a grown man would care to admit, and finding it was directed by the guy who gave me my beloved slasher/ giallo Pieces? Well, hook me up to an IV of THAT!

Slugs: Michael Garfield and Kim Terry as Mike and Kim Brady

Slugs has us follow the events in a small town that is being invaded by a plague of flesh-eating slugs, and the only people who can save it are health inspector Mike Brady… yep, ‘Mike Brady’ (Mike Garfield), his friend, sanitation engineer, Don Palmer (Philip MacHale), and a local high school science teacher/ scientist, John Foley (Santiago Álvarez), who was introduced by Mike’s wife, Kim (Kim Terry). 

Can they save the town before the inhabitants are completely consumed? Well, let’s hope now before at least a bunch are chewed up in all sorts of gory ways!

There are two horror fans that live inside me, one who likes slow burn horror films like The Wicker Man and early Hammer films, and another who loves balls-to-the-wall, blood-drenched splatters films, and it’s that latter fan who digs this particular film.

The fact that is is an American/ Spanish production means that there are some of the cast speaking English, and other dubbed, sometimes quite hilariously. The film has some continuity inconsistencies and some totally weird cast choices… Don’s wife looks old enough to be his mother (!) and there’s just some flat out bad acting, but the joy from this film comes from both the gore, and the fact that slugs are just so damned disgusting!!

It’s amazing to think in a world of CGI in even low-budget films that all the flesh and blood in this film is practical effects. Even though I am not a detractor from CGI effects, I do miss films that do everything with good ol’ buckets of red paint and pig skin.

Slugs: Juan Maján needs a hand as Harold Morris

I have to give a word to the soundtrack as well. The title score is classic moody horror stuff, but then as scene changes happen, it’s like music that an 80s cop TV show might have when it comes back from an ad break.

It’s one of my favourite films of all time, even though it’s hokey and perhaps a little bit stupid, but it’s for those reasons that I love Pieces too, so why the Hell not?

Score: *****

Arrow Films’ Slugs bluray menu screen

Format: This UK Arrow Films, region B bluray release runs for approximately 89 minutes and is presented in a really nice, which is expectedly slightly grainy due to its age, 1.85:1 presentation, with a very rare artefact, with an excellent mono audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Extras? Extras? Boy, have we got extras! First up, and in Arrow tradition, we have a reversible cover, one side with brand new artwork by Wes Benscoter and the original art on the flip side.

Inside the case there is a booklet featuring an informative article by Michael Gingold, American journalist probably best known to horror fans as 26 year veteran (he finished there this year) of Fangoria magazine, about the film.

On the disc we have:

Here’s Slugs in your Eye: an interview with Emilio Linder, who played David Watson, where he talks about his career and his experiences on the film. He has some great anecdotes, and a pretty cool vinyl collection in the background.

They Slime, They Ooze, They Kill: an interview with special effects artist, Carlo De Marchis, who briefly talks about his career before concentrating on the effects of Slugs, breaking them down by how the effect was done with some amazing behind the scenes photos of giant slugs built to bite fingers and miniature houses to blow up. He also reflects on the 1989 Goya award for special effects that the film won.

Invasion USA : an interview with art director Gonzalo Gonzalo, who talks about Simon and his work in cinema, and his admiration for his work. He also talks about his own contributions to the film.

The Lyons Den: this is a pretty cool locations tour of Lyons, New York and interview with production manager Larry Ann Evans, who actually grew up in the town. She has some pretty funny recollections of the making of the film, and some more delightful memories of Simon. Actually, one thing all these interviews have in common is the respect for J. P. Simon which makes me dig his work even more! 

We also have a trailer for the film, and then two commentaries:

The first commentary is one I was very excited for, as it is with author Shaun Hutson, with Michael Felsher from Red Shirt Pictures (who produced all the featurettes on this disc). It’s an awesome commentary and hearing Hutson talk about his career and his, quite low, opinions of the film. As a horror fan there’s nothing more disheartening hearing a favourite author coming down on a favourite film, but I’ll get over it, as the commentary is totally engaging!

The second commentary is by Chris Alexander, filmmaker, musician and former editor in chief of Fangoria, and is much more a fan, love letter to both the film and the book. Listening to this commentary after the Hutson/ Felsher one is great as the opinions of the creator compared to the fan are amusing.

Score: *****

WISIA: I’ve watched this film, and read the book on which it’s based, more times than I care to admit. I’ve probably already watched it twice this year already before I watched it the three times to review it (the film and then two commentaries) and it still hasn’t gotten old. I’ll probably watch it again before the end of the year… so the answer is yes, I’ll watch it again.

Slugs: Emilio Linder’s David Watson’s seen better days…

2 thoughts on “Countdown to Halloween #7: Slugs (1988)

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