Arrow Heads Vol. 27: The Slimy, Slightly Sleazy Slaughter of SLUGS (1988)

 

Arrow Heads
Arrow Video, a subsidiary of Arrow Films, humbly describe themselves as merely a “Distributor of classic, world, cult and horror cinema on DVD & Blu-ray”. But we film geeks know them as the Britain-based bastion of the brutal and bizarre, boasting gorgeous Blu-ray releases with high quality artwork and packaging and bursting with extras (often their own productions). Their collector-friendly releases had traditionally not been available in the U.S, but now Arrow has come across the pond and this column is devoted to discussing their weird and wonderful output.

Slugs is available now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

This will be a shorter review than usual for the plain fact that I don’t need to say a whole lot about Slugs. It’s quite simply a lot of fun – gross effects, a little sleaze, some camp mixed with social commentary, and lots and lots of huge, squishy, creepy-crawly slugs.

It’s the work of Spanish director Juan Piquer Simón, who helmed the minor classic Pieces, and a bunch more films that are relatively unknown. Slugs doesn’t capture the same manic energy and insanity as Pieces, but if you like one you’ll probably like the other.

The story concerns a small town that get infiltrated, and eventually overrun, by an invasion of large, black, mutant slugs. Health inspector Mike Brady encounters the creep-crawlies and connects them to some mysterious deaths in the area.

With his friend Don, the supervisor of the county’s Sanitation Department, he investigates the possibility of that the slugs are killing and eating humans. Brady tries to go through the proper channels of local government to curtail the problem before it becomes a full-blown epidemic, but is met by resistance from disinterested or corrupt officials who ignore his warnings.

Despite the absurd premise that such slow creatures could pose an active threat, the film treats its plot seriously without any winking at the audience – though there’s plenty of scenery-chewing dialogue. Also plentiful are peripheral characters surrounding the protagonists, and they exist mainly to get eaten or attacked in horrific ways. In one particularly memorable scene, a man’s head explodes into a goopy mess of blood and worms; parasites associated with the slugs.

Slugs is a gleefully fun romp and probably shouldn’t be treated too seriously, but there are some interesting themes evident in its storytelling about greed, corruption, and the environment. Unsurprisingly, the mutations are connected to an old toxic waste dump that contaminated the area, but Brady’s attempts to correct the problem are stymied by an ineffective bureaucracy. Despite their official-sounding titles, heroes Mike and Don are more public servants than government bigshots, and ultimately end up taking action of their own — crawling through the sewers to meet the slugs on their home turf — rather than run things up the chain of command.

The Package

Standard Arrow Films presentation with reversible cover art with a classic image on one side and new art by Wes Benscoter on the other, plus a booklet with writing by Fangoria’s Michael Gingold.

The disc features a new restoration from original film elements, uncompressed English PCM Stereo, and the option of English subtitles. There is no Spanish track, despite the film’s partially Spanish production.

Special Features and Extras

Audio commentary by writer and filmmaker Chris Alexander

Here’s Slugs In Your Eye (7:39)
– an interview with Argentinian actor Emilio Linder, with special attention to his gruesome death scene. Spanish with subtitles.

They Slime, They Ooze, They Kill: The Effects of Slugs (10:46)
– an interview with special effects artist Carlo De Marchis, accompanied by a lot of cool BTS images. Spanish with subtitles.

Invasion USA (11:52)
– an interview with art director Gonzalo Gonzalo, whose work is mainly seen in the sewer scenes. Spanish with subtitles.

The Lyons Den (21:00)
– with production manager Larry Ann Evans, describing the location-based shooting in her hometown of Lyons, NY. She’s an absolutely lovely and bubbly personality who is thrilled to talk about the film. Not only does she share stories about the film, town, and challenges of an international co-production, but takes us on a tour of some of the film’s locations. It’s terrific, and probably the highlight of this disc.

1988 Goya Awards promo reel (13:30)
– a highlight reel of the film in roughly VHS quality

Original Theatrical Trailer (1:37)

 

Get it at Amazon:
Slugs – [Blu-ray]

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the author

Austin Vashaw is a technology and new media professional in Overland Park, KS (a Kansas City 'burb). Film yakker, wisecracker, tact lacker, and BK Stacker snacker; lover of photography, Victorian literature, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. @VforVashaw | letterboxd.com/VforVashaw