Slugs: The Movie (1988) Review
*** Out of 5
Tagline- They Ooze. They Slime. They Kill.
Release Date- September 16th, 1988
Running Time- 89-Minutes
Screenplay- Ron Gantman (Novel- Shaun Hutson)
Director- J.P. Simon
Starring- Michael Garfield, Kim Terry, Philip MacHale, Santiago Alvarez, John Battaglia
Slugs was released in 1988 and was directed by Juan Piquer Simon under the name J.P. Simon and he’s also used the name J. Simon and he’s been dubbed the Spanish Ed Wood and a couple of his films have even played on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Juan Piquer Simon is probably best known to horror fans for the 1982 cult classic so bad it’s good Pieces. I first saw Pieces back in the 80s on VHS (how retro is that) and its a movie I never forgot. I saw so many horror films back in the 80s that years later I would rent or buy something thinking I’ve never seen it only to start watching and remember it, but Pieces I never forgot. As a kid I thought it was one of the greats, but as a kid a film featuring some nudity and a whole lot of gore is gonna be a major appeal. When I finally saw Pieces again as an adult after not seeing it for several of years I didn’t quite see it as one of the greats anymore, but I still loved the film for all its idiocy. I first saw Slugs about 2006 and even though Pieces was the only film by J. Simon I saw he was a favorite filmmaker of mine and Slugs is just another reason why I love this guy. While not as gory as Pieces, Slugs is just a campy good time that matches Pieces in the fun factor. I also saw Satan’s Blood in which, Piquer has a producers credit and according to the credits on IMDb also did some uncredited directing.
Juan Piquer Simon truly was the Spanish Ed Wood and that’s not meant as an insult since I enjoy some of Wood’s work, but in terms of styles they are a lot a like. I actually see Pieces as J. Simon’s Plan 9 from Outer Space as both are meant to be serious, but are high on camp and both have odd random plot points that have nothing to do with the film. Slugs is in someways semi-forgotten despite a couple of DVD releases and its a film that deserves more of a following as its such a fun film. The film is quite absurd, but the fun factor is through the roof. While many fans of the director would most likely cite Pieces as their favorite film by J. Simon and that’s a great choice and the gore F/X for a low budget splatter film look terrific, but me I think I might favor Slugs, but its very close and I often change my mind. I love the full title Slugs: The Movie. I guess when people went to see this in theaters perhaps just to make sure they know its a film just title it Slugs: The Movie. That just kind of makes me laugh I mean what else would it be?
Mutated man eating slugs begin to feast on the people of a small New York town.
The screenplay by Ron Gantman was based off a novel by Shaun Hutson, which I have never read so I have no idea how much they have it common. The script by Gantman is highly entertaining due to the silly nature of the absurd plot. The film is set on Halloween with the final act on Halloween night, but the setting really has nothing to do with the film since its just a passing mention and there aren’t even any decorations. Characters are actually fairly decent and while they may not have a whole lot of depth they are however better developed than most would assume going in and more importantly the characters are a lot of fun. I’m not sure how much of the campy aspects of the script were intentional, though I assume some were, but most weren’t, but regardless Slugs is high on camp value with some truly hysterical dialogue. This would have to be my favorite exchange.
Kim: Did you hear about Harold and Jean Morris?
Mike: Nope, why?
Kim: They’re dead.
Mike: Come on now.
Kim: Yeah, I heard it on the news. There was some sort of explosion in their greenhouse. They were both inside.
Mike: Wha-Wait a second, how’d this happen?
Kim: No one knows.
Mike: Ah, Jesus. They were nice people. I liked them a lot.
Kim: I know, I did too.
And here’s possibly my favorite bit of dialogue;
Frank: You ain’t got the right to declare happy birthday. Not in this town.
As director J.P. Simon crafts a fun, but also slightly sluggishly paced film. From the start intentional or not, Simon sets up a fun tone. The pace as mentioned can be a bit sluggish in spots and while Slugs is never boring it can feel a little overly long despite running at only 89-minutes. However the film is also quite fun and while nowhere near as gory as Pieces, J.P. Simon still stages some excellent gore scenes that can be quite gruesome. There really isn’t much suspense, but there are some effective scenes such as after a couple has sex the floor is covered with 100s of Slugs. J.P. Simon lives up to the Spanish Ed Wood title with a silly, but often fun film that while has some pacing issues is still a good time. Juan Piquer Simon would pass away in January 8th, 2011 at the age of of 75.
One thing that never fails to make me laugh is the main character played by Michael Garfield his name in the film is Mike Brady and every time he’s called by his full name I think of Robert Reed from the Brady Bunch as on the show his name was Mike Brady. And the name Mike or even his full name is mentioned some many times its actually quite funny.
The score by Tim Souster is also a highlight as its often campy and more often than not doesn’t fit in with what’s happening onscreen and it feels as if Souster was composing a different horror film and it was just applied here. And lastly Frank Brana who fans should recognize from Pieces has a small role as Frank Phillips.
Overall Slugs is quite enjoyable despite some issues I had with the film its still quite fun. Fans of schlock cinema should enjoy.