“What is this? A homicide or a bad B-movie?” -Detective Cameron, Night of the Creeps Some movies pay homage to their predecessors and inspirations while others shamelessly rip them off in everything but name. From killer classics to bargain basement Z pictures and everywhere in between you’ll find examples of passionate tribute and blatant plagiarism. Tonight, I’m going to tell you a story about two movies, twenty years apart that, despite their distinct differences. One is, at times, a painful homage to the horror masters of the 70’s while the other furthers that tribute in an even more bizarre way. Some claimed that the latter was nothing more but a poorly conceived remake of the original. I’ll let you decide. Get ready for a Beautiful Creatures Double Feature! Night of the Creeps and Slither. Night of the Creeps (1986) Okay, to start with, I need you to keep track of all the names you’re going to hear in this movie. Ready? The story begins in 1959 outside of Corman University where a couple parked on make-out row chase after a falling star. They have no way to know, however, that their shooting star is actually an alien science experiment gone awry and jettisoned to earth during an epic, if not short lived battle. While our macho 50’s frat brother dips into the woods to hunt for -and eventually be infected by- the strange falling star, his date is left alone in the classic convertible and falls victim to an escaped maniac with an axe, living up to all those urban legends about parking in the middle of nowhere. Flash forward to Corman University’s pledge week 1986 as Chris Romero and JC (John Carpenter) Hooper are walking down fraternity row considering pledging. Dumbstruck by the gorgeous Cindy Cronenberg, they pledge the classically malevolent frat run by Brad or, as his license plate reads, The Bradster. Attempting to steal a corpse for a pledge they stumble across the cryogenics lab ineptly secured near the morgue in the medical wing on campus. Accidentally thawing a familiar-looking cadaver from lover’s lane 1959, they run off in horror, leaving an unsuspecting grad student to become victim number one of the alien-zombie slug epidemic. As grizzled Detective Ray Cameron begins investigating strange deaths that seemingly link themselves to the unsolved axe murder spree in 1959, all of which keep bringing him back to the duo of Chris and JC, a much larger and complex story forms. This story has all the makings of a perfect B movie from dopey, hapless collegiate kids getting killed by zombies and alien worms to gruesome practical effects and cheesy dialogue. The principle characters, and even some of the secondary ones, as well as the college, are partially named for horror directors of the 70’s and early 80’s like Roger Corman, George Romero, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg to name a few. Some of the best gore and monster shots come from the start of the movie where the naked, unusual looking aliens are battling their zombified compatriot using what looks suspiciously like a proton pack from Ghostbusters. There’s also a great moment where the decayed corpse of the “missing” axe murderer breaks through the floorboards of the home built over his shallow grave to begin his killing rampage again. The movie doesn’t get half the attention and respect that it should as a horror-comedy on a par with Return of the Living Dead and, later films like Dead Alive. Slither (2006) The town of Wheelsy is preparing for their annual deer hunt when school teacher Grant Grant (not a typo) goes out to cheat on his wife Starla with a local bar skank and ends up getting attacked by a strange alien parasite that crashed to earth in a small meteorite. Possessed by a malevolent alien intelligence that has spent billions of years devouring countless worlds, Grant begins to slaughter animals in increasing size and number to fuel the victim he has impregnated with his slithering progeny. The violence quickly escalates from clandestine and strange to blatant and gruesome as the horribly mutated Grant begins slaughtering farm animals. Chief Bill Pardy and the Wheelsy police begin to track the monster but are too late as the infested Brenda pops like an overfed tick and sprays millions of hungry, telepathically linked brain parasite worms into the township. Each zombie they create is linked by hive mind to Grant and share a singular mission: find Starla. The movie takes yet another bizarre though clearly expected -and slightly rapey- turn as Grant’s worm zombies begin to clean and dress Starla for her big night with her husband as his plans for global consumption quickly gear up for a much larger expansion. Slither is a Troma picture on a Universal budget and who better to mastermind it than James Gunn. The man got his start directing Tromeo and Juliet and even makes sure to have Lloyd Kaufman cameo in more than a few films including this one. Coupling a sarcastic, hilarious, and absolutely gross script with a mixture of practical and CGI effects and an all-star cast including Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, and Michael Rooker, it’s truly one of the better movies he made before getting sucked into the gaping void of Disney/Marvel. Keeping true to his roots he made a creepy, disgusting, borderline exploitative mainstream film that, despite criticisms from some is, I believe, one of his best pictures. It certainly makes up for 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake at least and where else are you going to see Nathan Fillion getting his ass kicked by a zombie deer? “My easy going nature is getting sorely fucking tested.” -Bill Pardy, Slither Now here is the issue that hardcore horror fans have always had with Slither: “It’s just a rip-off of Night of the Creeps!” I’ve heard this complaint shouted at the top of lungs and in ALL CAPS on message boards. Yes, both deal with sluglike zombie creating worms from outer space. Yes, both are horror comedies full of gunfire and witty banter. But let’s take a moment to enjoy the precursor to both of these movies: Shivers (1975) Oh snap! Now you’re getting a featurette to go with your double! You’re welcome. David Cronenberg’s horror film set in a futuristic apartment community in the late 70’s is full of blood, gore, sex, and parasitic zombie making worms. While the threat is totally celestial, engineered in a lab by man to improve human life -and subsequently backfiring on its creators- Shivers really set the tone for this all-knowing, all-encompassing worm based undead apocalypse. Night of the Creeps pays homage to directors like Cronenberg and the Godfather of the Zombie Apocalypse himself, George A. Romero while building its own story around the premise. Something that Slither does with gallons of pus, blood, and acid slime in a truly Tromatic (again, not a typo) fashion. If you’re looking for a light hearted, fun evening of zombies, gore, and people getting truly fucked up from look no further than this double feature streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, and so many more services. Go on. Thrill me! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.