Saturday, 24 October 2015

October Nightmares #24: Slugs (1988) (Guest Review)


Guest review, by Sam Graham


There's a certain ballsyness to films that state the name of the evil in the title. It sets your expectations from the get-go, and hinges on its monster being enticing enough to make you want to watch it. After all, Halloween isn't called 'Michael Myers', Friday the 13th isn't called 'Demented Old Lady', and The Thing isn't called 'Oh look, Palmer's face has ripped open and eaten Windows. Quick, someone get the flamethrower, or we're all fucked'.

1988's Slugs (directed by Juan Piquer Simón) banks on the premise that enough people are afraid of slugs. Or at least curious enough to read a review of it almost thirty years later. Zombie Flesh Eaters (1990) grabbed attention because not everybody has zombies halfway up the walls every time it rained, and The Stuff (1985)...Well, The Stuff was about body-snatching sorbet, but that's for another day. Anyway, back to slugs. What can you really say about a bunch of slugs?
Well, Slugs is one of those campy 'so bad its good' films- a strange home of fandom which seems to have a restraining order on Uwe Boll- and is based on the novel by Liverpool writer Shaun Hutson- the only writer I've ever read who seems to celebrate the fact that dead people shit themselves. While he himself didn't agree with the 'its good' part of that statement, its hard to imagine a man who mentions with such specific detail that every time someone dies in his work, they immediately dump arse, has such high standards.

The story itself is pretty sluggish (I laugh at these so you don't have to): Slugs start eating people in a small town. One man, played by Michael Garfield, who you might recognise from absolutely nothing else, realises, but nobody believes him until its almost too late. It's a plot as old as time, and about as copied as those old Myspace messages telling you slugs will eat you if you don't share this review in the next five minutes. But it's in the effects from Basilio Cortijo where this films shows its strength. From naked teenagers being eaten up in seconds to a man's eye rupturing and hundreds of small slugs bursting out onto the camera, you can tell by just how pornographically close the camera gets to the action, that this film's one for the gorehounds.

Slugs won't ever be one of the classics, because it doesn't have the budget, or the plot to back up the effects, but damn it has some funny moments, and they make the film worthwhile. Take one scene where a guy puts a gardening glove on, only to find out there's a slug in it. He tries to pull the glove off, but cant. I guess because the slug's holding onto the inside of the glove with those hands it doesn't have. Anyway, the man does the only logical thing he can. He cuts his arm off. Yep. He does an Ash Williams and takes a hatchet to himself instead of just, y'know, cutting the glove off and then killing the slug. Now that to me seems like a bit of a nuclear reaction, like if I stepped on a plug and decided that instead of being more careful, I wiped out all use for plugs by firing Escape From LA's EMP satellite at the world and sent us back to the stoneage. Extreme reaction it may be, but funny as hell to watch.

If you're one of those people like me who thinks that cheap practical gore is hilarious, then I'd recommend it. This film tries, despite its obvious limitations. It's the film equivalent of that kid who eats all the paper mache, but still gets a lolly for effort. So yeah, give it a watch, but go in expecting trash.
It's interesting to note that not once does anyone pour salt on any of the slugs. That's where the real gore would lie. Actually, watching this film made me wonder if I was the only person who knew this. Like I alone knew their only weakness, and so they'd be coming from me next. Hang on, there's something on the window. My god, they're using tools...