Saturday, October 8, 2011

Slimy Slug Zombies

There are almost as many ways to create zombies as there are types of zombies. In Romero's original Night of the Living Dead, radiation from a returning satellite is blamed. In Return of the Living Dead, it's a mysterious military chemical weapon. In Black Sheep, it's genetically modified sheep. And in Zombieland, it's a tainted gas-station hamburger. But in at least two movies, it's slugs from outer space, and that's what Uncle P is going to gross you out with tonight.

In writer/director Fred Dekker's 1986 Night of the Creeps, an alien experiment is accidentally jettisoned to Earth, where a college kid on a date finds it (after his girlfriend is murdered by an axe-wielding lunatic). In an effort to contain the threat, the kid's body is frozen and put in storage. Flash forward to 1986 when, as part of a college prank, the body is accidentally thawed and the slug-like parasite is released on campus. We soon learn that the 50's maniac was killed and buried where a sorority house now stands, and the House Mother is being menaced by the killer's reanimated corpse. When the zombie is shot in the head, a horde of alien slugs is released to wreak havoc on the night of the college's Formal.

Dekker loads his movie with tons of references to classic zombie movies and even goes so far as to name characters for well-known 80's horror directors. There's Chris Romero; Cynthia Cronenberg; James Carpenter Hooper; Ray Cameron; Detective Landis; Sergeant Raimi and Mr. Miner, all named after George Romero, David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, James Cameron, John Landis, Sam Raimi and Steve Miner, respectively.

80's horror staple Tom Atkins plays the cop who figures out what's going on and future special effects pioneers Robert Kurtzman and Greg "The Walking Dead" Nicotero make appearances in the ensemble. Even horror icon Dick Miller (The Little Shop of Horrors; Gremlins) shows up.

In the end, it's discovered that the only way to destroy the creeps is with fire, and the sorority house is burned down, saving the campus (and presumably the world) from the slimy creeps.

In 2006, Troma Studios alumnus James Gunn (Night of the Living Dead 2004), took the premise of slugs from space to a new level with his hilarious (and disgusting) film Slither. While fans of Night of the Creeps took to the Net in protest when the first trailers hit, they were soon assuaged when the movie was released to exceptionally positive reviews (85% on RottenTomatoes) and Gunn's original take on the trope.

Hottie Nathan Fillion (ABC's "Castle") stars as Bill Pardy, Sheriff of Woodsville, a town where nothing happens. Pardy's true love, Starla (Elizabeth Banks) has married the town's most successful businessman, Grant Grant (Michael Rooker), who is cheating on her with local tramp Brenda (Brenda James). While on his way home from a tryst with Brenda, Grant stumbles upon a meteor which contains a slug-like alien named "The Long One" and is immediately infected by the slug-like monster, which begins to transform him into a tentacled beast. Grant subsequently infects/impregnates Brenda ("Somethin's wrong with me!") with hundreds of similar slugs which soon take over the town, turning its residents into zombies obsessed with Starla. It turns out that all the zombies are connected as part of a hive mind to the Long One, which intends to take over the world, as it it has done on many other worlds before. 

Featuring Jenna Fischer, Gregg Henry, Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman and the voice of Rob Zombie, Slither makes references to the films of George Romero; David Cronenberg; Stuart Gordon and the aforementioned Fred Dekker (a veritable Circle of Undeath, as it were) and even features a clip from Troma's most (in)famous film, The Toxic Avenger. Yet another hilarious entry into the horror comedy sub-sub-genre of zombie movies, Slither is yet another of Uncle P's favorite zombie movies of the 21st Century.

If you've never seen this hilarious movie, I highly recommend it, especially if you (like Uncle P) are fan of Nathan ("Firefly") Fillion's.

More, anon.

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