Set in the quiet rural town of Wheelsy, S.C., Grant (Michael Rooker of "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer") is a strapping he-man who may be losing the affections of his generally devoted wife, Starla (Elizabeth Banks of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin"). While ruminating the state of things in the woods late one night, Grant is invaded by a slithery slug-like creature. Before long, Grant begins mutating. He first impregnates a woman (who becomes a host for a litter of slimy beasts) and then devours dogs and cattle. Soon, he even begins to resemble Jabba the Hut with a bad case of psoriasis. Nathan Fillion (the sardonic captain of Joss Whedon's "Firefly" and "Serenity") as the town police chief may do the best straight-faced double-takes in movies today as he tackles both this mutant infestation and his hidden lust for Starla.
Writer and director James Gunn, who wrote both "Scooby-Doo" movies and the recent take-no-prisoners "Dawn of the Dead," happily packs this horror parody with a virtual jukebox of familiar movie references. But Gunn doesn't simply draw from "Invaders From Mars," David Cronenberg's "Shivers," "Alien," the George Romero zombie flicks, or the tawdry Troma horror movies just to demonstrate that he's seen the same horror pictures that we have (as the makers of the "Scary Movie" franchise do). Gunn heightens the jokes (and the horror) by providing a tongue-in-cheek twist to all the familiar and tacky tropes in the genre. "Slither" is as much fun as EC Comics on nitrous oxide. Starring Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry. Directed and written by James Gunn. Produced by Paul Brooks and Eric Newman. A Universal release. Horror/Comedy. Rated R for strong horror violence and gore, and language. Running time: 96 min