Slugs (1988) – By Roger Carpenter


One of my favorite things about Arrow Video is their fearlessness in releasing Blu-rays of relatively obscure films that otherwise wouldn’t (or perhaps, even, shouldn’t) see a release. But Arrow doesn’t just release these films in a bare bones package. No, it makes no difference that perhaps a dozen people have seen some of these films. These releases get the same treatment as the rest of Arrow’s catalog. Thus, we have supreme versions of major cult classics such as Island of Death, The Hills Have Eyes, and Mark of the Devil alongside films that typically would never get a deluxe release, like Juan Piquer Simon’s Slugs.

Simon is perhaps best known as the man who brought you the horrific (and, frankly, horrible) slasher epic, Pieces (1982). He also directed a handful of other low-budget schlock fests like The Rift and Cthulhu Mansion, among others. His films are well known for being outrageously fun as long as the viewer retains a sense of humor throughout, and Slugs is no different.

Based upon Shaun Hutson’s early eighties novel of the same name, Slugs concerns a health inspector, Mike Brady (Michael Garfield) who stumbles upon what appears to be some slimy friends of the toothy variety in his garden. Called out to help investigate some mysterious deaths, Brady soon puts two and two together and goes to town hall to expound his theory of man-eating slugs. He encourages the city to cut the water to stop the spread of the killer slugs but is laughed out of the mayor’s office. It takes a slug expert teamed up with Brady to stem the flow of the deadly creatures, but not before several very gruesome deaths.

Slugs is not a particularly high quality film. It is both campy and cheesy as well as extremely gory, leading to much trouble with censors around the globe and actually being banned is some areas. After some discussion, the MPAA let it slide (see what I did there?) by with a somewhat surprising R rating. There are several violent deaths, including one man’s face that erupts in a geyser of blood and worms. In fact, there are plenty of bloody geysers which is funny in and of itself as I can’t imagine just how a slug could create such spurts of the thick red stuff. But that’s part of the charm of this film—the viewer doesn’t just get to wallow in the gore and the grue, but also the utter ridiculousness of the entire endeavor. This is good stuff, I tell you!

And if spending 90 minutes enjoying this campy epic isn’t enough, Arrow has added quite a few special features to flesh out (there I go again…) this Blu-ray. This disc features a brand new restoration of the uncut film–and it looks terrific–with vivid colors throughout. There are several interviews including with co-star Emilio Linder, special effects artist Carlo De Marchis, and Art Director Gonzalo Gonzalo. And regardless of how one may feel about J.P. Simon’s directorial skills, each of these artists speak quite fondly of Simon’s dedication to his craft and attention to detail while filming. But the best nugget is a 21-minute interview with Larry Ann Evans, Simon’s longtime collaborator and production manager, who describes Simon as a surrogate father and reminisces fondly of her time working with Simon. Her stories about how the two met and how a Spanish production came to film in small-town New York State is quite entertaining. The film also features an audio commentary (!) by Chris Alexander, known primarily for editing Fangoria magazine for several years. Unfortunately, the commentary is mostly wasted with worthless drivel though I did enjoy Alexander’s recollections of discovering horror films and collecting bootlegs. He’s a man after my own heart and I’ve heard some of his other commentaries which are far superior to this particular one.

Overall, Slugs is a highly enjoyable slice of late eighties camp. Filled to the brim with questionable acting and even more questionable dialogue—the scene in the mayor’s office is hilarious—this film is best watched with plenty of beer and popcorn as well as with a few friends. Arrow has released a superb version of a terrific example of low-budget horror cinema.

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