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Slither – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

James Gunn is forever going to be known as the man who brought us Guardians of the Galaxy.  Though, like Peter Jackson before he was the Lord of the Rings guy, he got his start in low rent horror. For Gunn, his roots trace back to none other than the schlockiest of schlock, Troma. And the best thing? The guy has neither forgotten, nor is he ashamed of his roots. He continually grows and keeps that badge of honor with him. In 2006, he got his shot at his feature film directorial debut in that of Slither, coming off being the writer of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake.  Slither originally made it to the HD-DVD format, but never crossed over to Blu-ray in the US (A few other countries have edition from many years ago). Proving worth the wait, its become a Scream Factory Collector’s Edition that you can snag on August 1st, which you can pre-order using the link below.

Film 

The sleepy town of Wheelsy could be any small town in America — somewhat quaint and gentle, peopled with friendly folks who mind their own business. But just beneath the surface charm, something unnamed and evil has arrived…and is growing. Intent on devouring all life on Earth, this dark and slimy entity is infecting anyone in its path. Now it’s up to the local sheriff, Bill Pardy, and his team to stop the spread of rampant devastation – and shocking mutilation – before it’s too late.

I mentioned Troma up there, that ties to James Gunn’s roots. Its no surprise that his first film is deeply set in those Troma ties. If anything, Slither is the ultimate experiment in making a big budget Troma film. One that has money, talent, effects and good equipment in the set and during post production. Everything is here from the kinds of characters, the town, the jokes, the gore and the sheer hilarity of some of the weird and some of the childish ridiculousness in the film.

Slither hits you from a multitude of directions, which is why I’m a pretty big fan of Gunn’s work. First off, the guy is pretty funny in the realms of smart humor, outlandish humor and eye rolling humor. Through some of that, it helps to develop and get us caring about a lot of his characters. Which in turn then drives the plot and creates suspense in the narrative. While, yeah, horror and comedy are the first and foremost, by doing each very well he’s crafted some great suspense and characters to root for.

James Gunn has assembled a terrific cast to play out his first directorial effort. Nathan Fillion was a big geek choice for leading man in anything back in the 2000s. Always in good stuff be it television or film, but never finding a hit. It was no different here as the film bombed. Along with Fillion, you had Elizabeth Banks taking off in a leading role as she had been a side character in Betty Brant in the Spider-Man movies to go along with some other credits. But, the most fun here has to be Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry getting to be quite silly and having the more fun roles to play. Henry has one of the best character introductions maybe in film history. I still chuckle loudly when it happens even though I’ve seen it many times.

A personal aside, I think this may have been the first movie I ever saw in the theater with my good friend Scott Mendelson. It was when I had first moved out to Los Angeles and I believe we went and saw a test screening of the film. It had not been color timed or had the music finalized. Also, the effects weren’t finished and there were still scenes with wires and green screens. Despite that, the film was still very enjoyable. That says a lot for the film, given those parameters.

While this is on the more gross, Troma side of things with a swig of Cronenberg and of course Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond, one can still see that Gunn still is who he is with the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. That the vanilla-director Marvel stigma does not apply to him. You can see this in the way his characters are, the way he uses music and the creature work. Oh, and the man has a great, twisted sense of humor. Through it all, Slither still remains one of his best.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Scream Factory brings Slither to Blu-ray with a lovely, full looking transfer with some beautiful colors and darks that really are the stronger aspects. The image is plenty sharp and the print used for the film is in good condition. The CGI in the film surprisingly holds up and actually is pretty impressive when seen closer up (Like the bathtub sequence). I’m not sure if this is the same transfer used for HD-DVD, but that doesn’t matter, as this is pretty terrific.

Depth:  This transfer has a nice three dimensional feel to it. Characters look free and move about with good confidence and spacing, feeling much in front of the background. Movements are cinematic and don’t really feature and sort of movement blurring and distortion.

Black Levels: Blacks are really rich and deep with good saturation. Details push on through, despite how strong the darkness can be. No crushing witnessed during the viewing of this film for the review.

Color Reproduction: Colors look pretty rich and gorgeous here. Of course reds are pretty luscious and pop right off the scream look really wet like you could touch them on blood. Greens on grasses and other such landscaping has a nice glow to it. Elizabeth Banks hair can look a strong gold in scenes and there is a nice palette of the color blue on display. Even colors that don’t pop are still quite bold on thick in terms of fullness.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones take on a natural color and keep it throughout the entire course of the runtime. Facial details such as make-up, stubble, dried blood, lip texture, wrinkles, scars and more all come through with great clarity in close-ups, medium shots and some more distant looks.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Slither has a very good 5.1 track that gives a full, realized experience to accompany the feature. Effects are distinct, layered, and well placed with volume. There is a good balance between the music, effects and vocals with all of them firing on all cylinders. This one is set a hair lower than usual with the Scream Factory releases, but not by much.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Gun blasts, engines humming and crashing and punching all bring the thump to the sub besides spots in the mus.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a fun journey around the speakers in the room. They really do great to involve all of them, crafting a true to screen environment. There was a big highlight with our leads in a car and zombie-pod people from space are banging on the car and you hear it from every which way and distorted as it would sound if you were there.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Despite how loud it can get, dialogue is always at the forefront, being good and audible.

Extras 

Slither – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Audio Commentary 

  • With James Gunn, Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker
  • With Director James Gunn and Actor Nathan Fillion

Interview With Writer/Director James Gunn (HD, 29:38) – We first find out that he was only intending to sell the screenplay so he could direct Super (Which years later he did).  Gunn cites Cronenberg, Carpenter’s “The Thing” and a Manga for his inspiration.  He says he will never learn more about filmmaking than he did when he did Tromeo & Juliet at Troma.  Gunn also goes over his casting, his dialogue, his balance between the grounded and the surreal.  There is a wealth of info in this interview and Gunn is thoroughly engaging throughout the entire thirty minutes.

Interview With Actor Gregg Henry (HD, 8:08) – Henry says there wasn’t much improvisation, giving full credit to Gunn for all the humorous lines in the film. He goes over his and his fans favorite lines (His and other characters) and has nothing but praise for the cast. Effects are another things he talks about and the process for him and other actors to go through to pull them off.

Deleted and Extended Scenes With Optional Commentary By James Gunn (SD, 17:13) 

Visual Effects: Step By Step (SD, 5:04) – Played like a montage of footage in the film, this shows the process of putting the effects into the final footage of the film.

Slithery Set Tour With Actor Nathan Fillion (SD, 4:41) – Fillion takes a camera around to talk to James Gunn, Elizabeth Banks and other cast and crew members on the set of the film.

Who Is Bill Pardy? (SD, 5:14) – This features a bunch of outtakes of Nathan Fillion interrupting, screwing up or mentioning that he’s “Bill Pardy”.  After that, cast and crew sarcastically discuss Nathan Fillion in derogatory fashion.

The Sick Minds And Slimy Days Of Slither (SD, 10:04) – Featuring cast and crew interviews, this is pretty much a “Making Of” for the film.

Brewing The Blood (SD, 3:17) – A “How To” on making blood with one of the effects guys.

Bringing Slither’s Creatures To Life (SD, 18:38) – This featurette goes over the importance and love of physical, prosthetic effects and goes over the process of creation of them for this movie.

Lloyd Kaufman’s Video Diary (SD, 8:58) – Troma head honcho Lloyd Kaufman takes us all around from his car ride from the airport, to his trailer to the lot, the shoot and has discussions with cast and crew.

Gag Reel (SD, 8:11)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:29) 

Summary 

Slither is a hilarious, gross and excitingly fun movie that holds up remarkably well. This Blu-ray features a terrific transfer to go along with a fun audio track. Scream Factory has stock piled up the previous extras and added some great new interviews and a commentary all their own. This is a wildly underseen and underappreciated move, and its getting an outstanding little release here that hopefully see more people discovering it, some giving it a second chance and the fans rewarded for their love of the film.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Slither – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Somehow I never upgraded from DVD, so I’m all about this release.