Monday, July 12, 2010

Slugs: The Movie (Spain, 1988)

Nothing quite like a truly trashy Mother Nature on PMS film, a genre to which the film Slugs: The Movie definitely belongs. Slugs: The Movie is a another masterful film by the unheralded Spanish master of cheap exploitation Juan Piquer Simón, or J.P. Simon as he is normally credited in his American releases. Although Simón has pretty much disappeared from the screens since the turn of the century, during the 1970s and 80s he regularly directed (or wrote for others) wonderfully sub-standard but deliriously gory and/or totally ridiculous flotsam. Amongst his more noteworthy cinematic debris are the non-bloody Supersonic Man (1979 / trailer), the cheapest Superman (1978 / trailer) rip-off ever; the infamous and bloody 42nd Street classic Pieces (1982 / trailer); and La mansión de los Cthulhu (1990 / trailer), easily one of the worst H.P. Lovecraft “adaptations” ever. Slugs: The Movie is based on a book of almost the same title (guess which part is different with the book) written in 1982 by the great unknown writer Shaun Hutson who, as he himself states, "still refutes claims that he has done for the English novel what Hitler did for Poland."
But where does Slugs: The Movie fit within Juan Piquer Simón's amazing oeuvre of uniquely entertaining cinematic jetsam? Well, it is cheap, it is badly made, it has a script with bigger holes than Amy Reid, the dubbing and dialogue falls below the lowest standards set by Italo-trash, and continuity seems almost accidental—in other words, Slugs: The Movie is one hell of an enjoyable masterpiece of gory worthlessness, guaranteed to satiate any and all desires for a good crappy film. Much like David Keith's wonderfully stupid and gruesome "trashpectacle" The Farm (aka The Curse / trailer) of 1987—to which it shares more than one basic plot point—Slugs: The Movie is third-rate sleazy Europroduct of the kind that you either love or hate; and while the latter is easy to justify, the former is less so. But then, why bother? It isn't as if anyone can really logically justify liking Troll 2 (1990 / trailer), either.
As might be expected, Slugs: The Movie stars a lot of nobodies, and the few that ever did anything else are hardly a household name in any country (filmed in the state of New York and in Spain, the dubbed actors vary likewise in nationality). The basic premise is all Jaws (1975 / trailer): Killer creature(s) on the loose, those in the know are ignored because of business concerns—in Slugs: The Movie, it's the deal for a new shopping centre that has to be closed (and, indeed, is closed, despite the wonderfully gory inside-out meltdown of one of the negotiators at an Italian restaurant, one of the best-staged—if not effectively horrendous—deaths of the entire film, next to the young couple in a scene that just has to be seen to be believed). The actors, like the director, obviously take the project very seriously, which for a change helps the film.
The killer slugs of the film are the result of genetic mutation caused by toxic wastes—say, isn't it about time for a horror film entitled something like "Love Canal Creature"?—which has made them both inordinately large and aggressive, not to mention meat-eaters. (Actually, while the slugs do have teeth, as is revealed in the quick but classic scene of a slug biting a finger, they really aren’t all that large if you consider that the largest slug known to man, the limax cinereoniger, can grow to 30 centimetres in length. But then, Slugs: The Movie isn't too tight on the facts; among other facts it completely overlooks is that slugs are not water-dwelling creatures and, in fact, can drown if submerged too long in water—I drown them all the time in my Schrebergarten, although I usually go the euthanasia route by tossing them into a bucket of cheap beer; that way they drown happily drunk.)
The first to go in Slugs: The Movie is a young fisher, his death due to a lack of testosterone (i.e., had he only screwed instead of fished, he might have survived), soon thereafter a drunkard is slimed. (Why they didn't let the girlfriend of the fisher take off her top before her screaming scene is a true mystery.) Many gory highlights follow, although in between them Slugs: The Movie is rather a dull affair; luckily, as is often the case with this type of dubbed euro-products, the dialogue in between is good for an occasional laugh so the film never actually becomes tedious no matter how idiotic it is. And unlike most horror films, it is not above pointing out a real-life truth: that a virginal good girl is just as likely to die as the good-time babe that puts out, and that a would-be rapist has as good a chance of survival as the heroic husband has of dying.
Between the Oscar-worthy dialogue and the illogical plot turns, the sex-hungry teenagers wallowing on a floor of “meat-eating” slugs (to do that is what I call professional commitment), exploding greenhouses and so much more, Slugs: The Movie ends up being a truly unforgettable and entertaining piece of gold-plated crap. Watch it, now!

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