Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Bad Movie of the Month: Slugs: The Movie

I may not be devoting all of my time and effort to covering bad movies these days, but that doesn’t mean I stopped loving them. So once a month, I’ll spread a little bit of that love…

Every so often, you’ll trip over an article on the web pissing and moaning about the lack of creativity in Hollywood today.

Let's be clear: Those articles are the worst. Not only is the writer completely oblivious to the irony of how void of creativity it is to complain about the lack of creativity in Hollywood, it also shows a lack of understanding of how the movie business works. Producers don’t give a fig about creativity, they care about making money. Know what makes money? Proven formulas. And when a newly proven formula comes along, they ride that thing all day long… no matter how absurd it is.

And just to prove my point of how long this has been going on, take Jaws. Summer of 1975, Steven Spielberg unleashed this gem into the theaters, causing the world to collectively wet itself. Everyone was afraid to go in the water, so they went to the movies and watched Jaws instead.

In the wake of Jaws, the studios started cranking out imitations with other animals. “Like Jaws, but with a [blank]” became the go-to elevator pitch. Once all the plausibly threatening sea life was used up, the formula was applied to land mammals. And once all of those were used up? Well…

Based on the 1982 novel that I wish was titled Slugs: The Novel, 1988’s Slugs: The Movie stays true to form with a cold open featuring the underwater death of a nameless couple. Check that off the list! Post-credits, we meet all of our main characters at a nightclub for young Republicans. Among them is Mike Brady, the county health inspector. Things start looking serious for Mike Brady when he accompanies the sheriff to evict the town drunk because… that’s what county health inspectors do? Anyway, they find the find the guy dead and half-consumed. At least the eviction will go smoothly

After some snippets of life in town, including complaints from the Crankiest Old Lady Ever and a scene of all the “cool” “teens” hanging out in the only diner in town, we get our first explicitly slug-related fatality. Harold is trying to enjoy his golden years tending to his greenhouse when a slug slithers/crawls/oozes into his gardening glove. Awesomely, when Harold puts on the glove, he’s obliged to yell out, “SOMETHING IS BITING MY HAND!” Rather than try to simply remove the loose-fitting glove, Harold flails about, knocking over an unfortunate combination of chemicals.

Then, seeing no other alternative, Harold chops off his own hand. Somehow, that doesn’t provide him with much relief. Fortunately, his wife wanders in at that point, stunningly long ash dangling from her cigarette, and then everything blows up real good.

Shortly after, Mike Brady finds a slightly larger than normal slug in his wife’s garden. When it bites Mike Brady on the finger, he freaks the hell out and does what any of us would do: bring the slug in to a British guy in a lab to analyze. Listening to the lab guy’s Austin Powers-esque accent, Mike Brady starts to add it all up… half-eaten town drunk… explosion in a greenhouse… bit by a slug… our town must be infested with mutant, man-eating slugs! It’s the kind of deduction that the Adam West version of Batman would love.

Of course, he'd already have Mutant Slug Repellent on his utility belt.

It appears that the slugs’ mutant abilities also include teleportation. Just a few scenes later, a couple of “cool” “teens” head upstairs to have hot, drunken sex (this is a horror film, after all). They take a break from all the huffing and puffing to find that the bedroom floor is a sea of slugs! Maybe we should add the ability to detect premarital sex to the slugs’ list of mutant abilities.

We get more deaths by slug, including a particularly memorable scene in a high-end restaurant, and soon, Mike Brady is running about doing a Chicken Little routine. Naturally, the good ol’ boy sheriff doesn’t believe him, suggesting there might also be “demented crickets” or “rampaging mosquitoes” -- both of which sound like damn good movies to me. When Mike Brady warns the head of the water department and the mayor that their water supply has been contaminated, they both tell him to take a hike. Hey, why should they listen to him? He’s only the county health inspector.

Mike Brady, his buddy in sanitation and Dr. Austin Powers devise a plan to take out the slugs. Amazingly, it doesn’t involve table salt.

No, the plan is to head into the sewers on Halloween to douse all of the slugs with lithium ammonia, which apparently will make the slugs explode. Only the sanitation guy questions the wisdom of marching into a contained area filled with methane to make things explode. Of course, that only gives him pause before giving his wife the best kiss of death ever: “Hey, how about when I get back, you and I get naked and get crazy?”

Off our heroes go, where the central drama becomes less about Man vs. Nature (as natural as mutant slugs can be) and more about Man vs. Manhole. Unsurprisingly, given their master plan, the whole thing ends with about 800 explosions.

Yes, this film is glorious. Not that it should be: the premise is absurd, the dialogue is rickety, the music overblown and often inappropriate and the acting stinks on ice. Which, of course, only adds to the splendor and glory that is Slugs: The Movie. I can only hope I’ve done it justice in this, Slugs: The Review.   

Congratulations, Slugs: The Movie: You are the Bad Movie of the Month.

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