It all began in a peaceful community, a place that had never known evil…until now. But 20 years ago in a stillness beneath the waters, something sinister happened and now its deadly spawn has been released, coming out from the depths into the light. First they got into the water system, now they’ll get into your system….how can they be stopped?
There was something special about the 1970s and 1980s. Something innocent and fun that made them the best decades for creature features. Maybe it was because they weren’t all about super giant prehistoric or super giant genetically engineered what-evers appearing on or in the swamp/backwoods/tropical islands and wreaking havoc on inexplicably sexually-charged half-dressed beautiful people. Instead they were about normal people in normal places having abnormal experiences with mutant/overly aggressive/sometimes overgrown what-evers, often beautifully rendered in latex or as puppets or with just plain old stock footage smudged up and flipped over and blown up to ridiculous proportions.
Take Slugs, for instance. Here we have this pretty little city full of average little people leading bland little lives, when all of a sudden (dun dun dunnnnnnnn!) they are attacked by killer slugs! Not giant slugs, or prehistoric slugs, or genetically engineered slugs with a taste for sexy human flesh. Just slugs – who have been altered by toxic waste! Remember when creature features starred man-eating what-evers that had gotten that way because of EVIL TOXIC WASTE?! It seems like forever ago. Nowadays everything is created in some super secret lab by a bunch of butthole scientists who should have known better.
Though to be honest, Slugs does have its very own IMPORTANT MESSAGE. Instead of making a point of how awful and evil genetic experiments are, the message here is something about big business and development destroying the world and how toxic waste is bad and blah blah blah. I think it is also trying to say that alcoholism is wrong, teens should not be having sex, and growing your own veggies could lead to enormous explosions (killer slugs in greenhouses are apparently VERY flammable). There are actually a lot of messages here. Creature features can be like that, even nowadays.
The special effects are way better than I thought they would be. While the slugs themselves are just regular old garden variety invertebrates sliding around on the floor or wall or ceiling or toilet, every once in a while some movie magic occurs and a body goes flailing around with prop slugs appearing to burrow into their bloody and violated skin. Heads explode with worms, eyeballs implode with sprays of goo, and heads of lettuce are sliced open with disgusting results as slugs located within are chopped into pieces. It isn’t a total gorefest, the effects are used only for specific emphasis, and it keeps the film from getting into camp territory.
The story itself, however, is really pretty bland and predictable. There are a couple of government workers who realize killer slugs are feasting on the populace and SOMEONE NEEDS TO STOP THEM! There is much driving around and arguing with mayors and turning on faucets only to scream when slugs drop out of them and people going into basements even though they know the slugs are crawling out of the sewers into…basements. And the big dramatic endgame plan to destroy the killer slugs actually made very little sense. It shouldn’t have worked. Not like in the end of Jaws where Sheriff Brody makes an amazing shot that just happens to blow up the killer shark even though shooting a tank of compressed air wouldn’t make it explode in real life (Mythbusters tested it – myth BUSTED!). You can believe in that unbelievable ending because it seems to make sense. The ending of Slugs doesn’t make sense, and you can’t really believe in it.
But overall the film works. It is a fun jaunt into old school creature feature territory. There are man-eating what-evers, naked girls, exploding gore, and a bunch of completely normal looking people running around refusing to believe that anything out of the normal is happening. Which makes it twice as fun when they are all proven totally wrong.
Slugs – The Movie (1988)