There may be no two genres harder to bridge than horror and comedy. Every so often, there is a film—An American Werewolf In London, Scream, Shaun of the Dead—that manages to both scare the piss out of us and make us piss ourselves laughing, each element complimenting the other rather than insulting it while we reach for the Depends. All too often nowadays, of course, the two genres tend to meet in hopelessly yuk-happy drivel like the Scary Moviefranchise, and as they keep churning those out, the real gems are harder to find. In fact, a truly terrific one sailed right under most moviegoers' radar earlier this year, but never fear because the gross-out masterpiece that is Slither hits DVD on Tuesday.
Writer/director James Gunn's highest-profile credits previously were as scribe on the Scooby Doo films and Zack Snyder's mixed-bag Dawn of the Dead remake, however the ace in his pocket would seem to be his experience with those masters of sicko humor, Troma Films. It's a Troma-like, no-holds-barred lunacy that drives the action in Slither, which pays homage the smart-assed horror films of the '80s Gunn and so many others grew up with in its tale of a parasitic meteor landing in the Podunk town of Wheelsy. Rather rapidly, the entity barrels into the chest of rich nutjob Grant Grant (the ever-reliable Michael Rooker), who begins to mutate into something decidedly not human, and sends out an army of alien slugs to turn the rest of the town into flesh-eating, goo-spewing zombies. It's up to sheriff Bill Pardy (Firefly and Serenity's Nathan Fillion, still doing tough, witty and charming like nobody's business); Grant's freaked-out wife, Starla (a fine Elizabeth Banks); and a small group of survivors to stop the invasion. Just when you think you've seen the grossest gag in your life, Slither hurls (literally) something worse at you, then sucker-punches you with a hilarious one-liner or five; the squeamish may want to give it a pass, but if you can stomach the gore, it's a clever gem that deserves to be celebrated. This week's release also includes a truckload of cool extras including commentary with Gunn and Fillion, tons of behind the scenes featurettes, and more.
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Also recommended this week: The Addams Family: Volume 1; Body Heat: Deluxe Edition; Creature Comforts: Season 2; Groovie Goolies:Saturday "Mourning" Collection;I'm Alan Partridge: Series 1; Nacho Libre; Pelle the Conqueror; SCTV:Best of the Early Years; Sesame Street:Old School Volume 1; SNL:Best of TV Funhouse; Sweetie (Criterion); That's My Bush!