HD-DVD has officially been a declared a dead format since Toshiba announced it was ending support. Even many of our own readers have made posts about what to do with their HD-DVD collection. Here's my suggestion: Enjoy them! The discs and players didn't melt when Toshiba made the announcement. I won't spend too much time on my soapbox here, but I do want to share my thoughts. The media will be available for years to come, as will hardware to play it on. I suppose it's easier for me since I've already experienced this with laserdisc, which ended around 1999/2000. And to this day I still enjoy the laserdisc format. I didn't jump in until after the Toshiba announcement when the prices on hardware and software dropped dramatically. HD media for $5-10 a pop? You can't go wrong. While we will primarily focus on Blu-Ray here on the site, we'll certainly be reviewing HD-DVD titles too. Don't give up on HD-DVD. It had a short run but there's lots to enjoy with the format.
Written and directed by James Gunn, whose writing credits also include the 2004 Dawk of the Dead remake, Slither is a horror movie with some science fiction and comedy thrown in. Movies like Night of the Creeps and Night of the Comet prove that such a combination can lead to genre favorites when done properly. I missed Slither when it was first released onto DVD a few years back, but I'm looking forward to my first viewing in high definition. Lets take a look at Slither.
A meteorite hurls through space and crashes in the forest of a small town. The town's sheriff, Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion), is bored with life in a town where nothing exciting seems to happen. His one passion is to lust after Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks), a local schoolteacher. Starla is married to Grant Grant (Michael Rooker), the town's local rich man. Not all is well between Starla and Grant. When she rejects Grant after some sexual advances that evening, he heads out to the local bar for a few beers. Grant meets up with a woman by the name of Brenda (Brenda James). After several drinks, the two begin stumbling home through the woods. It is there that they come across the meteorite. Grant begins poking around and is soon attacked by a tiny insect-like creature that burrows its way into his chest.
The alien creature has taken Grant as a host and begins taking control of his entire body. He is soon eating large chunks of raw meat and begins to make a nest in his basement. When he padlocks the basement door, Starla becomes suspicious. Grant dismisses it as her birthday surprise. As Starla begins to get ready for a local dance, Grant leaves hastily, claiming he has to stop at work. Instead he goes to Brenda's house. Brenda thinks she's in for some loving, but instead gets attacked by a tentacle that emerges from Grant's stomach. Meanwhile, at the dance, Bill takes the opportunity to get a bit closer to Starla.
Grant begins to transform more and more into the alien creature. Soon he can no longer hide the physical changes from Starla and he attacks her. Bill comes along just in time and shoots Grant, but Grant escapes.
Thirteen days later and Grant is still missing. Local cows are being brutally slaughtered. Bill and Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry), the town's mayor, suspect it is Grant. They gather up a group of local law enforcement and go on the hunt. Starla isn't ready to give up on her husband and tags along. They are too late. Grant is in full alien form and when leech-like alien creatures begin slithering around, the town becomes infested by alien parasites. With the townsfolk becoming mindless minions of Grant, hope is bleak for Bill and Starla as they search for a way to stop Grant before they too become mindless hosts.
Slither is a fun, modern day horror movie that is influenced by the old black and white B movies, along with 80s 'creature flicks' such as The Fly, The Thing, and countless others. It has a combination of elements that is difficult to put it into just one category. There are humorous tones to Slither, but there are dark tones as well. It has creepy crawlies, full blown monsters, and zombies (or at least zombie-like characters). I wouldn't label it as a 'horror comedy' per se, but it's not a straight out horror movie either.
The story is a bit hokey, but that goes back to the B movies of the 50s and 60s. It does take a good 20-30 minutes until the movie really starts to pick up the pace, but once it does, it doesn't slow down. What really makes Slither work, and what makes the movie fun, are the performances. Nathan Fillion as the sheriff and unlikely hero; Elizabeth Banks as Starla, the schoolteacher who is unable to give up on her husband, even in full alien form; Gregg Henry as the town's mayor provides some great comic relief. The real icing on the cake is Michael Rooker as Grant. Grant is a strange person to begin with but as he transforms into an alien, he goes from strange to downright bizarre and disgusting. Michael sells it with ease and it really adds to the enjoyment.
Slither isn't particularly scary, though it does have some disturbing moments. The scene when Grant attacks Brena is essentially a rape scene. What makes it even more disturbing is the intercutting from Brenda's 'rape' to Bill and Starla dancing away at the town's celebration. The music playing at the dance is fun and light, yet intermixed are these graphic sequences of Grant attacking Brenda.
The movie was done in a modest $15 million dollar budget. It shows at time on the quality of the effects, which are a mix of computer generated and traditional makeup and prosthetics. The majority of the effects work, though, and the few that don't can be overlooked thanks to some fine performances. It's an enjoyable movie and I think most horror fans would agree. It's a quirky, but there's something to be found in Slither for everyone.
Universal delivers Slither onto HD-DVD in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. The image is top notch, boasting vivid colors and a razor sharp image. No MPEG artifacts or print damage were found. As expected for a new movie, no grain is present. The opposite side contains the standard DVD-9 of Slither. A comparison to that shows that the DVD itself is essentially equal to the HD-DVD, with the HD-DVD having a sharper image and more detail.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is included and it leaves a bit to be desired. For a newer movie especially, I expected more from a 5.1 track. But there's little activity from LFE and surrounds, and this movie provides ample opportunities to put a bit more life into the track. Dialog is clear and no distortion was heard.
There's a good amount of supplements on the disc, though the majority of them are located on the standard definition side of the side. The audio commentary with director James Gunn and actor Nathan Fillion is located on both sides. The two clearly became friends during the filming, which is noted to on the track, but is also evident just based on their demeanor towards one another. They each share tidbits about the filming and creation of Slither. James points out the countless homages found in the movie, from names of characters to inspirations.
Several deleted scenes are included, all of which contain optional commentary by director James Gunn. There's noting too substantial to them but they are fun to watch. A small, five minute featurette titled Visual Effects: Step by Step is included that shows the various stages of special effects being implemented into particular scenes. Next is Slithery Set Tour With Nathan Fillion that's also about five minutes. I really enjoyed this particular featurette a lot. Nathan provides some good humor, lots of bits with cast and crew, along with a good amount of behind-the-scenes footage.
Four extended scenes are included which have optional commentary by director James Gunn. James explains why each scene was trimmed. The next featurette is titled Who Is Bill Pardy? that is also a lot of fun. It starts with outtakes where Nathan will turn to the screen and say, “I'm Bill Pardy!” It then spends a few minutes having the cast and crew goofing on Nathan himself.
A gag reel running about 8 minutes in length is next. It's a blast to watch and there are lots of laughs to be had. The next featurette is a making of and runs about 10 minutes in length. It features interviews with cast and crew sharing their thoughts on Slither, in regards to influences, characters, special effects, and more. Next up is The Gorehound Grill: Brewin' The Blood, a featurette that teaches you how to make special effect blood at home.
Bringing Slither's Creatures to Life is a look at the special effects. The crew goes into details about the effects and using both traditional effects and computer generated. The final feature is titled The King of Cult: Lloyd Kaufman's Video Diary. Lloyd Kaufman is the president of Troma Entertainment, a company that Slither director started out with. Lloyd has a cameo in Slither. The diary is about nine minutes long and contains footage of Lloyd walking about the set and talking to various cast and crew members.
Some fun and informative supplements are to be found on Slithers, putting even more value to the DVD and HD-DVD.
To date no blu-ray to Slither has been announced in the US, though one is scheduled for Canada. This HD-DVD is good for all, considering it has HD on one side and the SD on the other. The HD offers some improvements over the standard DVD, but those without HD-DVD or who simply want to wait for a blu-ray release, the standard DVD should suffice. Both releases have a good amount of supplements on them that fans will enjoy. As for the movie, if you love a good B movie, you'll enjoy Slither.
*Because of the quality of the HD format, the clarity, resolution and color depth are inherently a major leap over DVD. Since any Blu-ray will naturally have better characteristics than DVDs, the rating is therefore only in comparison with other Blu-ray titles, rather than home video in general. So while a Blu-ray film may only get a C, it will likely be much better than a DVD with an A.
Did we watch the same movie man? I'm not sure if it just got alot of hype or something but this one failed to deliver in my opinion.... even in the sense of a B movie. I enjoy a Good B-Move whether it be Pieces, Slugs: The Movie, Zombie 3, The Stuff or even Street Trash for that matter, but the fact is I'd much rather watch any of the previously mentioned films then this one.
The effects are fun, and its always good to see Rooker in a horror film after his infamous role as Henry Lee Lucas, but his performance in this film is very underwhelming. I understand it tried something little different then most films these days, but It fell flat trying.
Was like they tried to combined Shivers with Night of the Creeps..... in a bad way.
You know, I told a small, white lie in this review. I kind of watched this once but I fell asleep during it. I was actually letting my older son watch it. But from what I saw during that first viewing, I hated Slither. I didn't really look forward to reviewing it, either. I only bought it because it was part of the HD-DVD fire sales and I figured I could eventually review it for the site.
Once I really sat down and watched it fully for the first time, I completely dug it. I went into the review thinking it would be the first and only time I would ever watch Slither, but I'll absolutely revisit this one. I really enjoyed it, as you can tell from the review. Everything in it worked for me.
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