I think it's safe to say that among Barbies, baby dolls, and playing dressup, hundreds of horror movies defined my childhood. Half of it was having parents who were permissive in such areas; they never really censored much of what my brother and I watched, and other than a more relaxed than most sense of morality and the occasional, still unacted upon (knock on wood) urge to hit someone in the head with a large rock, I think I turned out okay. One of my earliest memories was writing in the 2nd grade about how if I could be anyone in the world, I would be Freddy Kreuger.
So maybe my earlier self-assessment was a bit too generous.
It still serves as a great source of laughs for my parents, though, and I was kind of proud at how well I drew Freddy in that hand-made book that undoubtedly concerned my teacher Ms. Vanek. I never liked her anyway.
In general, I have been left with a great appreciation for the horror genre, particularly the one that was driven underground in the late 90s and the current decade by movies that were, to pathetically understate it, lame. And I don't mean "lame" in that they weren't scary. I mean lame in that they were relying on generating fright from tired old formulae and therefore failed miserably.
Some of my favorites from a bygone era include The Evil Dead (and Army of Darkness, of course), Phantasm, Re-Animator, the 80s remake of The Blob, Shivers, Hellraiser, anything made by George Romero, and lest we travel into the further depths of cheesy (cheesy good, that is) shock horror- Slaughter High, The Stuff, Tremors- the list goes on. There has been a recent return to the good ol' days thanks to folks like Rob Zombie, whose House of a Thousand Corpses and The Devil's Rejects harken to the days when gore and sinister, satirical humor were almost commonplace.
Slither, the most recent homage, written and directed by a guy whose most well-known achievement was writing the Scooby Doo movies (James Gunn), was nothing short of brilliant. And slimy. Slimy is good.
What was also good were the hidden in-jokes, so numerous that repeat viewings are necessary in order to catch them all. Here are the ones that I did happen to stumble upon off the bat (without trying to make any spoilers):
-A family in the movie named the Castevetes, after the neighbors in Rosemary's Baby.
-Earl Bassett High School was named after the character Earl Bassett in Tremors (there were actually a few references to that movie)
-A scene with the exact music from Predator
-A scene with The Toxic Avenger on the TV
-Obvious reference to The Fly at the very end
-The name of the mayor, J.R. McCready, was the same name as Kurt Russell's character in The Thing.
Perhaps best of all, though, was the dialogue, and there were one-liners so numerous and hilarious that they cannot all be listed here without spoiling the film, and after much consideration I have decided I would be doing the movie a disservice by providing them, because it's just one of those things where you'd have to be there to appreciate the full scope and complexity.
Okay, maybe I'll pick just one:
"Are they martians?"
"Martians are from MARS!"
"'Martian' is a general term for space fucker!"
And one more:
After seeing a zombie combine with its leader's body (an obvious reference to The Blob), the hero of the film exclaims: "Now that is just some fucked up shit!"
Slither is probably the most fun I've had at the movies in a long time. It is one of those small gems that will insert itself, much like the wormy little slugs featured in the film, into the underground pop-culture to be appreciated by geeks like me for years to come.
Thank you, James Gunn, for not forgetting about us! :)