Slugs – 1 out of 5
I would really like to know the thought process that came about that made this film—or, more accurately, how the idea for the book it is based on by Shaun Hutson came to be. Was the author sitting in his garden and saw a slug and said, “Hey, I wonder what it would be like to see that incredibly slow creature somehow become a mutated danger.”? Regardless how it happened, I’m sure glad people come up with this stuff and the funding is acquired in order to make it because I can’t imagine a world where I can’t watch bad monster movies. The 1988 film Slugs starts kinda fun but when I really sat down and started to notice some very obvious misogyny within the story, it quickly stopped being one of those “so bad, it’s good” films and just became kinda uncomfortable to watch.
|Someday aliens will see this and will say, "Yep, they deserve the anal probes."|
In a small town, a series of mysterious deaths leads public health employee Mike Brady (Michael Garfield) into an investigation that makes him think there’s a possible contamination in the water. However, the reality is far worse as he discovers that toxic waste has been secretly dumped into the town’s sewer and it has given rise to a new breed of mutated slugs. More accurately, carnivorous slugs with an appetite for human flesh and a desire for murder! Actually, the murder is a by-product of their lust for food…also the toxic waste did nothing to make them faster so it’s also possible that the people have been mutated into idiots as well. Anyhoo, now Brady must try to convince the town to listen to his seemingly crazy discovery and to try and stop these new monsters.
|Another movie about a health inspector getting involved with the police in order|
to investigate mysterious deaths. What a cliche!
Slugs is a 1988 Spanish/American horror film and that means some really awesome dubbing! It’s pretty damn amusing to see actors speak with a voice that is clearly not their own and to see lines of dialogue just slightly off by a fraction every so often. This is just a part of what makes Slugs kinda fun for a majority of the ride. Already the premise is silly enough that it promises lots of laughs and easy moments to riff on (because seriously, slugs—this movie had to try extra hard to make these things threatening) but adding in the bad dubbing and acting that gets super over-the-top by a few of the players—for example, the guy who plays the sheriff of the town is in a constant state of rage that everything seems to set him off, even people doing their jobs—and you have a film that should be a lot of fun and a great accidental comedy. Sadly, something very late in the game took me out of the film and made me rethink other plot elements that I saw earlier.
|"Oh my god, you guys! The horrors down here. There's poop everywhere...|
oh, and the mutant slugs. But poop, you guys!"
For the most part, Slugs is a pretty fun watch and I was having a great time with it. I laughed and made snarky comments over the continuity errors, the weird bits of dialogue like a wife telling her husband—completely out of nowhere after some flirting and hinted sexual activity—that she’s sorry she’s a bitch all the time and I had hearty gut laughs over the ways the slugs killed people and apparently how strong those little buggers are. However, as the movie hit the third act and Brady is teaming with some buddies to stop this slimy menace, there’s a sequence that involves some of the town’s younger folks having a party and a very disturbing curveball is thrown in by director and writer Juan Piquer Simón.
|"I blame this on my wife for being a constant bitch!"|
Originally, I thought we were going to see the usual horror film tropes of teenagers messing around and then paying for their activities because these movies have a very unique look at morality but instead I watched as a guy tried to have sex with a girl and then she said “no.” That’s fine because women have the right to say that and this is not uncommon in horror films at all—in fact, sometimes the overly pushy guy ends up getting it in the end from the killer. What got me was what happened next as the guy returns in a mask and attempts to rape her. She successfully escapes and my mind immediately pictures the dude dying because, much like horror film’s odd morality tales they provide, they also like poetic justice so I’m thinking the potential rapist is about to be the slugs’ next meal. Nope, the woman instead dies and the dude (perhaps the real monster of the film? Eh?) gets away. WHAT THE WHAT?!?
|One scene was all it took for me to immediately stop having fun with this film.|
I'm not usually this nit-picky but this scene was bad.
I haven’t read the book but a quick cruise around the internet didn’t show me that this scene is a direct adaptation from the source material so its creation definitely feels suspect. I mean, it’s cool to occasionally throw a curveball when it concerns tropes in various forms of media and storytelling but this didn’t really feel like Simón was doing a tongue-in-cheek, against the grain move here; it really felt like this was his way of saying the woman is paying for saying “no.” In horror movies, teenagers “pay” after they’ve done drugs and had premarital sex, it’s basically become a joke in the genre but this was the writer’s way of saying that misbehaving by the era’s moral standards results in danger and death. What Simón showed here wasn’t the same but rather him saying that a woman’s body isn’t her own.
|A visual representation of the director's crappy attitude towards women.|
This scene made me wonder if Simón just hates women and then I started to look back at the film and the female characters within it. There was the wife who is never shown to be a terrible person but tells her husband that she’s sorry she’s a bitch all the time. Then there was the scene with the two teens who had sex and the slugs made their way into the bedroom and literally covered the entire floor (which, if we factor in both the actually intercourse and the foreplay, that means the slugs infiltrated the house in less than two minutes—HA HA! Hack jokes! I’ll be here all week). During this scene the woman dies first and we watch as her naked body is taken over by the slugs. The man dies too but it’s off screen and long after having to watch this woman in agony. Then there’s how some of the side female characters are portrayed with slight incompetence or as parties of annoyance (the nagging wife). Aside from Brady’s wife, there isn’t a decently written woman in the film and, even then, she’s not really portrayed as a person who can exist in the world without a man. This examination made me realize that Simón might have a real problem with women and this moment at the party was so off-putting that the film stopped being fun and was just a monster movie being used as a mask to hide a man’s misogyny. I realized this was made in the late 80s and that society didn’t have the same progressive standards it is working towards now but the woman paying for stopping the attempted rape was a complete killer for me with this one.
|I know Stranger Things has us nostalgic for the 80s but this is how the decade|
really looked like. It wasn't pretty.
I will admit that I was having a genuinely good time with Slugs until the attempted rape scene happened and then the whole film just felt gross. This movie could have been a stupid, campy monster movie that you’d see on a local horror host’s late night show and, while it still is kinda that, I just couldn’t escape the fact that it’s painfully clear that director Juan Piquer Simón clearly had something against women and then the film just looks sad, pathetic and socially irresponsible. It’s seems very Social Justice Warrior of me and to have this one complaint ruin the whole movie might come off as petty to some people but it really obliterated all the fun and entertainment it was giving me. Until that moment, this movie was going to get my score of 2 or even a 3 but realizing that the real monster in this film was misogyny rather than mutated slugs (and it was only a monster to me, the audience having to see it) knocked it down to a 1. Hell, I almost gave it a zero because having a rapist win is something that is too common place in real life, it shouldn’t be the case in the fictional world.