The Genuinely Horrifying Horror Comedy of 'Slither'

James Gunn's directorial debut is as repulsive as it is underrated.

Slither James Gunn
Universal Pictures

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about James Gunn’s underrated and repellent body horror sci-fi film Slither.

There is only one way to describe James Gunn‘s Slither (2006). And Nathan Fillion‘s exasperated Police Chief Pardy says it best: “That is some fucked up shit.”

On its (presumably sticky) surface, Slither‘s set-up is nothing new: a meteorite harboring a parasite smashes into a small town. After latching onto a wealthy local (Michael Rooker), the alien invader spreads, leaving a ragtag posse of survivors to kill the host and save the day.

Indeed, Slither has its horrible, fleshy appendages in a lot of time-tested genre pies, from shared thematic beats with Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and The Thing (1982) to direct visual nods to Society (1989) and Shivers (1975).

But homages be damned, execution is everything. And armed with the budget to follow through on its B-movie premise, even if you’re not squeamish, there’s still a good chance Slither will get under your skin. Much of the film’s repulsive power comes from its effects, which are, and I mean this as a compliment, absolutely horrible to look at.

But, as the video essay below explains, bloated bellies and distended maws are not the only way Slither weaponizes discomfort to make its audience squirm. Comedy tends to cannibalize horror. Yet Slither is an exception — a top-shelf example of how to integrate humor into terrifying situations without making them any less terrifying.

Watch “SLITHER: A Forgotten Creature Horror Masterpiece“:

Who made this?

This video is by Ryan Hollinger, a Northern Irish video essayist who specializes in horror films. Hollinger’s analysis usually takes the shape of a personal retrospective. Indulging in a healthy dose of nostalgia, Hollinger’s videos are contagiously endearing, entertaining, and informative. You can also check out Hollinger’s podcast The Carryout on SoundCloud here. And you can subscribe to Hollinger’s YouTube account here.

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(Senior contributor)

Three toddlers in a trenchcoat. Currently running The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope.