You know, I don’t think slugs make for a very interesting movie antagonist. I’m sure at this point (1988) screenwriters were running out of animals and insects to have mutate and murder the residents of a small town, but even still. Slugs? The little bundles of squish that are weak to salt and can’t move quickly? But the cover has a dude who is half eaten on it, so I decided I should watch this movie.
I already summed up the plot in that first paragraph. There’s a small town. Slugs. Murder. The slugs are mutant slugs, so I guess that does increase the overall threat. From what I remember, there’s not much of an explanation as to why they are mutated outside of a single line of dialogue saying that the town was built on a toxic waste dump. Mutant slugs are different from normal slugs in that they have teeth, they seem to be able to move eerily quickly, and they can somehow make a bunch of worms blow up your head from the inside out. They also seem to be incredibly stealthy as they are able to sneak into areas in large groups without anyone noticing, and incredibly resourceful as they are able to murder someone and flee the scene without any sign they were there. Mutant slugs have apparently evolved past leaving a slime trail wherever they go. I like to believe that they are hovering a few centimeters off the ground.
Our lead here is the town’s health inspector, which is a rare trade to put at the forefront of a movie, unless you count that Larry the Cable Guy movie as a real film, which we do not. He spends most of the movie trying to convince people that the sudden run of murders is absolutely 100% the result of mutant slugs but people ain’t having that. Then he and his buddy eventually have to take matters into their own hands and journey into the sewers for a full-on slug showdown.
There isn’t a whole lot of plot or character work going on here. Most of the characters seem to exist solely for the purpose of being killed by slugs. There’s a husband and wife and we spend time learning about the wife’s problems with alcohol and how she’s going to quit and how the husband has this huge deal coming up that might have had something to do with a shopping mall. Anyway she accidently feeds him a chopped up mutant slug that was hiding in some lettuce and during his big meeting his head explodes and a bunch of worms come out. That’s the end of their character arc. I don’t even think we even see the wife’s reaction to hearing that news. I did realize while typing this that there is absolutely no way she kicked her alcohol problem once learning she is responsible for the exploding of her husband’s head. Though more than her, I would love to see the scene where the other meeting participants get back to their office and are asked how everything went. “Well it was going fine at first…then check this out…”
The primary reason to watch Slugs is the gore and effects, of which there is quite a lot. The death scenes are pretty vicious, particularly the aforementioned exploding head. The slugs are appropriately icky, even if they do spend most of their time just chilling in a huge group, not doing a whole hell of a lot. There’s a quick shot early in the movie where we see a close-up of a slug biting a dude on the finger (hopefully it’s the image I used as the main one for this article, at this point I have no idea what future me is going to do) and it provides the potential promise of some good, ridiculous slug biting action. From that point forward, there is no more biting. Though an old man does chop off his own hand and a girl’s face is eaten apart? So there’s that.
Slugs is a lot of cool individual scenes portioned out through a movie that is not that great. Thankfully those scenes are enjoyable enough to have carried me through the whole experience. It’s not scary in the slightest and there’s not a single character that left much of an impression (I also wish it contained some more of the unique craziness from Pieces, another film from the same director), but how many movies have a dude’s head exploding in an upscale restaurant? The answer? Nowhere near enough.