Before all the vulgar and vile action really takes off in Slither we see one of the characters watching The Toxic Avenger on television. This callback to an earlier cheesy horror film sets the tone for Slither. That would be gross, gory and gooey.
The plot is really basic b-movie stuff. A small town of heavily armed rednecks is invaded by slimy extraterrestrial slugs and a lovesick acid barfing, squid-like alien. The residents are turned into zombies who are mentally connected to a millennium old creature intent on destroying all life on Earth. Only a handful of people avoid mutating into undead automatons, and of course, they are charged with saving not only themselves, but also the rest of humanity. So far, so standard—like a mix of Night of the Living Dead and Shivers—but the thing that sets this apart from the your everyday mutant from outer space flick is the skillful way that director James Gunn balances the gross-outs and shocks with genuine laughs.
Like the recent zombie spoof Sean of the Dead, Slither is a throwback to the 1980s when horror films like The Toxic Avenger had a healthy dose of fun mixed in with the foul. Particularly entertaining are Canadian actor Nathan Fillion—you’ll remember him from the Joss Whedon show Firefly—as the dim-witted sheriff and Michael Rooker as he unlikely named Grant Grant.
Also, as a huge David Cronenberg fan any movie that uses a shot for shot homage to Shivers gets my vote.