Slither is currently available on instant Netflix.

Slither (2006) – Rated R

“In the small burg of Wheelsy, housecats are turning into hellcats and townsfolk are morphing into zombies, prompting Sheriff Bill Pardy and the concerned wife of one of the town’s richest citizens to uncover the dark forces at work.”

“Now, I don’t care what kind of leprosy you got. We need to find that girl. Now, you can make this peaceful, or you can make it hard. “

Writer James Gunn is a very clever, if profane, screenwriter. His rewrite of Dawn of the Dead was better written than the original with great characterizations. The problem is that James Gunn has a wicked streak of humor. That humor is in full force in Slither, his directorial debut.

The reason I called the humor a problem was that if Gunn had filmed Slither as a straight up horror movie, I think it would have been successful. Unfortunately audiences did not care for the humorous aspect of horror and stayed away in droves, both domestically and foreign.

It is a shame because not only is Slither horrific but it is also quite funny. Nathan Fillion (Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly/Serenity) is a fantastic leading man, able to do action while also having a deft touch with comedy. He seems to have found his niche with Castle but I would certainly like to see him do more genre work. Fillion is our male lead here, playing Sheriff Bill Pardy.

Michael Rooker has a hilarious time as the ever-evolving Grant Grant. Elizabeth Banks is very likeable as our female lead, Starla Grant. Gregg Henry excels as usual at playing the person you want to see die. He has made a career out of playing buttheads (Body Double, Payback)

James Gunn packs Slither full to the brim with horror movie references. The opening sequence is lifted from The Blob. There are tons of other references, including The Thing, Rosemary’s Baby, The Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, They Came from Within, Videodrome, Night of the Creeps, From Beyond and others. The special effects are mostly CGI but are pulled off quite well.

James Gunn went on to poke fun at the porn industry by writing and directing the web/Spike TV series PG Porn – “for those who love everything about pornography except the sex.” Please be aware that it is not PG rated. He also poked fun at superheroes by writing and directing the hysterical Super. Next up for Gunn is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Slither is a wonderful send up and homage to the horror genre. Stay tuned to the end for a post-credits sequence.

People Watch: Writer and director James Gunn has a cameo as Hank. Jenna Fischer (Pam on The Office, also Gunn’s wife at the time) has a small role as Shelby. Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Films is the sad drunk and Rob Zombie is the voice of Dr. Carl.