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Slugs (1988)

Directed by Juan Piquer Simon
Anchor Bay DVD

Slugs: The Movie is all about man-eating slugs. They devour you pretty fast. They leave a sloppy mess. They don’t care. They’re slugs. What else do they have to do? Slugs don’t go to school. They don’t drive tractors. They are rarely seen to enjoy a good book. When toxic waste hits them, they get big, nasty and messy. A health inspector named Mike Brady, a sanitation worker and a very nerdy high school science teacher are humanity’s only defense. You’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re all going to die. J.P. Simon, the director of Pieces, is back with an over-the-top exercise in gore, slop and sleaze with a brief flash of a guy’s wiener as extra incentive.

The movie is based on a novel by Shaun Hutson.  The book gets very descriptive in the realms of gore and sex. But, all the horror novels at that time did that. It always used to amaze me that my parents would let me read these things when I was young. They’re loaded with pornographic descriptions of sex! As a kid, I loved it. But, that’s me. I’m a perv. Hutson’s book is around 351 pages long, which is a bit much for a book about man eating slugs that don’t have any sort of plan apart from eating people. In the book’s defense, however, the print is very large and it’s paced like a bullet. The old “book is better” maxim doesn’t quite work here, though. I’m a firm believer in the power of imagination. But, watching a pile of giant slugs eating a nude girl is pretty darn visceral. I did read the book in tandem with the movie. I probably won’t read it again. But, I’d watch the movie again.

The movie mirrors the plot of the book, which follows Brady’s attempts to stop the slugs. It also, like the book, has a lot of random vignettes of people getting eaten by slugs. Then, Simon throws in some of his own touches. The opening scene takes place in a small boat on a lake. It involves a gal wearing very big panties and her fishing boyfriend who is oblivious to the power of the giant panties. He gets devoured by something in the water. I imagine it’s the slugs that do it. But, they’re in the sewers in the middle of town, not in the lake. Where is this lake? Who are these people? Why are her panties so large? Are those the mighty underpants of a fishwife? There are also a bunch of teens in the movie.  They show up, look goofy with their big hair and then get killed. The man who plays the band manager in Pod People has baby slugs explode from his eyeball. There is a Halloween party. Apparently, the movie is set at Halloween. The director doesn’t always seem to remember that but that’s just another reason to love him. The cast is a mix of American and Spanish actors that guarantees awkward dubbing. There are a bunch of authority people who don’t believe the evidence of the chewed-up bodies. Many of them get eaten. One is eaten while on the toilet.

Slugs: The Movie is good “All-American”* fun. It should be a standard nature-goes-awry film but in J.P.’s hands , the film itself goes awry. A scene that contains a perfect example of this is when Brady’s wife, in some lingerie, seduces her husband. Instead of wearing thigh high stockings, she has on dark pantyhose. They go up to her waist, like a pair of tights. Those are more “Grandma” than “erotic”. In contrast with the sexy lingerie, they look kind of silly. Why wear those to bed and over the lingerie? Did someone in the crew buy the wrong thing and everyone just went with it? Is this a Spanish fetish? Like a lot of the things that happen in Slugs, it’s a head-scratcher. But, it’s the best kind of head-scratcher. One that makes me glad a film like this got made.

*Spanish