James Gunn, today, is probably most famous for The Guardians of the Galaxy but back in 2006 he made his directorial debut with Slither, a film that is both very different and surprisingly similar.

The plot, which happily lifts ideas from all over the place, revolves around the small town of Wheelsy, into the woods of which which crashes a meteorite. As we should all know by now, any meteorite that crashes into an isolate part of the US invariably carries some sort of alien parasite with it. In this case, the parasite is discovered by the delightfully named Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) who is promptly infected by it.

The film doesn’t take time to get started and what follows is a surprisingly unsettling mix of old-fashioned monster movie, body horror and zombie film. All of the narrative elements are reasonably familiar but, when squished together by Gunn’s sensibility, it all feels rather unique.

While Slither is listed on IMDb as a horror comedy, it is very much a horror film, albeit one underpinned by a dark sense of humour of which we see plenty of flashes.

More than anything, this film feels like an affectionate homage to everything from 50s monster movies to Romero’s zombies by way of Cronenbergian body horror. It is, by turns, disgusting, tense, occasionally funny and a much smarter than first appearances would suggest.

Slither is a lot of fun and any horror fans who haven’t already seen this film really do owe it to themselves to do so. I am, however, reading far too much into the film to suggest that the parasitic infection theme makes it the ideal Halloween film for 2020.

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