Horror 365, Movie(s) 75: Slurpie Movie Overview

No, no, no, not movies to which one might bring a Slurpee. Slurpie Movies.

What’s a Slurpie Movie? I’ll tell you. It’s any movie where a slug, worm, mollusk, or some kind of slug/worm/mollusklike creature, often alien, often parasitic, infects a human body and proceeds to wreak havoc as only parasitic/possibly alien slug/worm/mollusks can.

creepThe first Slurpie Movie I’d ever seen was Night Of The Creeps in 1986. It involved a big ol’ heapin’ heppin’ of the aforementioned sluglike alien parasites that, in this case, rendered their hosts zombie-like and homicidal.

Oh, bring a date.

A bunch of us went to see this, including a friend of mine, a guy we called Fish. His actual name wasn’t Fish. His last name was Herring. So, Fish. Not integral to this story. Just wanted to mention I had a friend we called Fish.

So, when said sluglike alien parasites started said havoc-wreaking, as sluglike alien parasites are wont to do, Fish’s girlfriend, Jessy, says, “Eww, I hate movies with little slurpie thingies.”

I wasn’t sure how many movies with little slurpie thingies she would have seen before that. I hadn’t. The only ones I could even think of were Shivers and the cleverly titled Parasite. Nonetheless, the term Slurpie Movie was coined born hatched spawned.

A scant year later came The Hidden.hidden

Think of it as kind of a Slurpie Movie meets The X-Files meets Men In Black. But replace the wit and charm of Gillian Anderson (whom I love) with the wit and charm of Kyle MacLachlan (whom I nearly love).

Then take yourself far too seriously, add Ed O’Ross and Michael “don’t remember anything I was in do ya” Nouri. Stir. Simmer long enough to cook off any remaining sense of humor. Don’t get me wrong. Still an enjoyable flick. Thoroughly.

It also sets up any number of things that will be referenced later by Men In Black: thing masquerading in Chris Mulkey/William Boyett/Claudia Christian/Clarence Felder/Ed O’Ross/John McCann/Vincent D’Onofrio’s skin, the sociopathic nature of the alien antagonist, even the remarkable similarity of Kyle MacLachlan’s and Will Smith’s mini-weapons.

But then, that title. I’ve seen (and, sadly, collected) an impressive number of Slurpie Movies over the years. Great does-exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin titles like Slugs, Squirm, Slither.

Gotta wonder about the brainstorming session that yielded something as catchy as The Hidden. “Squidlike alien bug thing that infests people and turns them into sex-crazed homicidal maniacs. But what to call it? Slink? Writhe? Wait! Suction! Cuz it’s, y’know, kinda squiddy. Hell, how about Deathsquid or Sex Slug?No. The Hidden. That was their final draft. Oh well.

The original Slurpie Movie is, arguably, Cronenberg’s aforementioned Shivers (aka They Came From Within). You can keep your wildly overpraised sex=death allegory It Follows. Give me 1975 Barbara Steele and that final zombie pool orgy.

But getting back to Night Of The Creeps–undoubtedly still my favorite Slurpie Movie. Mainly it comes down to the final scene. Our hero, Detective Cameron (Tom Atkins–gets offed not far into Lethal Weapon), squares off against a motherlode of the alien slugs which suddenly fly at him. Until then, nobody knew they could do that. Shrewdly, he duct taped his mouth then blew them all, and himself, up. Like ya do.

There are two endings. I won’t spoil the original but will say that it’s standard, unsurprising, Saturday-afternoon-B-movie, option-for-a-sequel stuff. However, in the alternate ending, we cut to Cameron, burned beyond recognition, smoldering, and making his way down the street. Incidentally a police car whizzes by this smoking mound of human wreckage without so much as slowing down. Huh. Cameron falls over, charred and dead. Several Slurpies burst out of his head and make for the cemetery.

Then it hits you. Yep–more than one orifice a resourceful Slurpie can access.

poster 70x100 Slither nl nieuw 5.inddJump ahead twenty years to Slither which I do love and consider a fine Slurpie Movie example. I’d call it an oh-so-close second to Night Of The Creeps. The gore, mutation, and sheer gross-out factors get amped way the hell up, well worth the price of admission. But let’s give credit where it’s due. First, it retreads the whole alien slug premise. Second, the utilization of various, uh, “entryways” into the host. Finally, the sluglike alien parasites get blown up. Again.

There is, woefully, no new ground broken here, all being Slurpie Tropes (who knew that was thing?) well-established by Night Of The Creeps. And that’s why it’s still my favorite.

 

 

Horror 365, Movie 74: Frogs

Frogs lay hundreds of millions of eggs each year. What if they all hatched!?

What if indeed.

I have a list, as I’m sure many a movie blogger has, of movies I shouldn’t love but do. It’s an alarmingly long list. Frogs is on that list. Specifically, it’s in the Top 5. Possibly Top 3.

I’m aware, therefore, that Frogs is not only flawed, but fails on numerous levels. For one thing, it’s an American International picture which says much. It opens with Pickett Smith (a young, bushy-haired, clean-shaven Sam Elliott) in a canoe. He’s taking pictures of wildlife but also pollution. Lots of it.

We’ll just go ahead and gloss over the fact that most of the frogs in Frogs are, in reality, toads. And the fact that frogs don’t, y’know, attack people. And have no teeth. And don’t actually kill a single person in the movie. Not even indirectly. They’re just kinda there. Lots of them, sure, but still, just there. Apparently it’s easy being green after all. Most of the killing is done by snakes. And spiders. And an alligator. And some birds.

gecko
I’m not from around here

We’ll just gloss over the fact that at least some of this wildlife is likely not native to Florida, the area Smith is in. Probably not native to any place near there. But let’s set these shortcomings aside and look at some of the, uh, highlights of the movie.

First there’s Ray Milland. I don’t think that needs any explanation. Cuz Ray Milland. Moving on.

milland

In an early scene, Smith, Karen (pre-Dallas, Knots Landing, and Spider-Woman Joan Van Arke), and her brother, Clint (Adam Roarke), hike through a misty forest. This mist recurs throughout the movie, suggesting the island in Matango and its source material, Hodgson’s “The Voice In The Night.” In other words, it’s isolating, eerie, and implies forthcoming weirdness.

In addition several victims meet interesting demises. Kenneth (Nicholas Cortland) is asphyxiated in a green house when a number of large lizards knock over several bottles of chemicals.

His dotty, butterfly-collecting mother, Iris (Hollis Irving), ends up covered in leeches and bitten by a rattlesnake. Is it me, or does she look unsettlingly like Bette Davis in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte?

charlotte iris2

Still, let’s be honest. As eco-horror, Frogs pretty much croaks (yep, I said that). All, however, is not lost, especially not if we reframe this and look at Frogs not so much as eco-horror but more as eco-Exodus.

After all, Smith starts out adrift in death-infested waters from which he is fished, Moses-like, by the granddaughter of the wealthy, nature-hating industrialist/pharaoh, Jason Crockett (Milland).

There’s more.

Smith is at first welcomed into the celebratory gathering in honor of Crockett, the grand patriarch of the family, much as Moses became the adopted son of Seti I. Like Moses doing the bidding of his adoptive father, Smith fulfills Crockett’s initial request to go find his missing groundskeeper.

Also like Moses, Smith rejects the rule of Crockett/pharaoh and allies himself with the oppressed family. He tries several times to convince Crockett that everyone should leave the island. Crockett’s response is pharaoh’s. He hardens his heart and refuses.

Crockett maintains this attitude to the end, even in the face of what is clearly The Plague Of Frogs.

Smith ultimately leads the remaining survivors to freedom, at one point having to free their stuck canoe. In the process, he is attacked in the water by snakes which he fends off with an oar, smacking them as they glide atop the water.

After this, he frees the canoe, and they make it to shore. In other words, Smith raises his rod against the waters, thereby providing safe passage from the enemy. He has figuratively parted the Red Sea and saved his people.

I know. I know. Bit of a, well, bit of a leap.


SKULLS
7
BODIES
8 onscreen
3 offscreen
Available to rent on Prime

Horror 365, Movie 73: The Greasy Strangler

In the song, “Re: Your Brains,” Jonathan Coulton makes the profound observation that, “No one’s gonna eat your eyes.” Words to live by indeed but definitely not the case in The Greasy Strangler. A friend of mine recommended this flick mainly so we could then use each other as sounding boards for the what-the-fuckedness of it.

Now…obviously our Weirdness Bar here at Castle Blogferatu is set PRET-ty damn high. Every so often though, something comes along that clears it while wearing heels–something so indescribably weird, it even makes us go, “Wha…?” and tilt our heads like a dog who’s heard a high-pitched noise.

How then does one go about trying to describe this wonder of joyously unrestrained ugliness?

Maybe all the ickiest parts of John Waters meet all the seedier parts of David Lynch and/or vice versa. Throw in some of the more vile aspects of Bukowski. But take away any sense of, for lack of a better word, style. Seriously.

Because it takes a certain amount of style and oily (heh) suavity to carry off louche to the degree John Waters does. And there’s a certain amount of style to even the seamiest, most bedraggled and noir-y David Lynch character. Watch Wild At Heart if you don’t believe me.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around would-be science fiction writer, Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) and his pathological liar father, Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels). Eventually conflict arises over a love interest, Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo). And there’s murder. And the alluded to eating of eyeballs.

And yet, I enjoy this weird little romp. Everything about it is way the hell off-kilter and over the top–the violence, the acting, the script. It definitely doesn’t take itself seriously, and pretty much everything is played for laughs–gross laughs that should bring one shame for laughing, but laughs.

It’s… an experience.

Still, let’s slide (heh heh) in a few, uh, “highlights.” Gore? Minimal. But there’s something to be said for the comic-book-like levels of violence. At least a couple sets of eyes pop out as victims get strangled, for example. The repeated car wash scenes are gross but sickly funny as well.

Having watched the oil fight scene in The Transporter, I also have what I guess is a physics concern–seems like it should be really difficult to strangle someone whilst one is covered in grease.

It’s interesting as well that the problem I have with the endings of The Greasy Strangler and Big Man Japan is the same problem I have with all of The Favourite and The Lobster. Each leaves me with nothing but a profound sense of “I. Don’t. Get it.”

It’s one thing if I straight up just don’t understand or I’m just not pickin’ up what the director is layin’ down, like the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I know there’s something important going on there; I’m just not finding it. It’s frustrating, kinda like when I can’t find Waldo. It’s another thing entirely when I suspect the director is purposely trying to make me not get it.

I mean, unlikely at it seems, I’m not always the smartest person in the room. Certainly I’ve got my intellectual shortcomings and blind spots, some legitimate, many probably chemically induced (college is a bit hazy).

But I’m not stupid, and “Look at me being clever and artistic” starts with the same desperate three words as “Look at me being repulsive and graphic.”

Given the choice, I’ll gladly take the latter. Usually.


SKULLS
12
BODIES
5 onscreen
Available on IMDBTv, free with ads on Prime, for rent on Google Play, iTunes, Prime, Vudu, YouTube