Slugs Blu-ray Review

Slug Life

Slugs can lay claim to a rare cinematic feat, letting a health inspector and sanitation director serve as heroes. It’s not only rare – that specific heroic pairing might be an exclusive to Slugs. With a wickedly snide tone, this Spanish/American production adds to the run of ‘80s eco terror and sewer monsters, but with the gory appetite of the decade’s slashers.

Sleazy, cheap, and exploitative; there’s no other way to treat the concept of Slugs, short of straight self-parody. At times, Slugs goes that way too with melodramatic dialog and false anger. Performances fall to D-level, not including those which are dubbed. Those are worse.

The typical genre traits apply. Lascivious teens find their stimulation interrupted by creepy crawlies, the latter created by toxic waste, obviously. Picking up pieces of Gremlins (the scientist high school teacher) and Alligator (the grim sewer setting), Slugs piles on the mayhem. By its mere existence, Slugs also owes a bit to the late ’70s worm flick Squirm and public domain gem Attack of the Giant Leeches.

So it’s unoriginal, but brisk and hokey, with the most innocent of monsters since Night of the Lepus sought to turn bunnies into flesh munchers. Immediately off-putting in their numbers, the slugs make for a visually creepy menace, even if the enjoyable, gratuitous gore isn’t convincing. The kills feel like happenstance and rarely happen to anyone of consequence. Victims exist because Slugs needs someone to off.

… with its strange and alluring indifference to its own concept, Slugs becomes immensely watchable.

Underneath it all is a bunch of kooky bureaucracy, from the sniveling sheriff to incompetent mayor. The blue collar guys save this town, banding together when the elected officials refuse. In that sense, Slugs draws on Jaws, as if nearly every creature feature post-Jaws didn’t.

Thankfully, Slugs is knowledgeable of its own wackiness. Maybe not always directly, but certainly flushed with a unique ambivalence to its own concept. In this sense, the gratingly low quality of the performances help, imbuing Slugs with an odd, distinctively mellow tone for such a gruesome flick. Citizen of Ashton, New York succumb to the hungry molluscs in horrific ways – pity the poor sucker using a slug-infested toilet off-screen – and Slugs isn’t shy about violence.

While splashy and with plentiful fire, the conclusion isn’t satisfying. It’s outright nonsense. Yet, with its strange and alluring indifference to its own concept, Slugs turns immensely watchable. The pace segues into new kills with frequency and those comically misplaced lines of dialog (“You don’t have the authority to declare happy birthday!”) pour on the B-movie charm.

Slugs Blu-ray screen shot 11

Video

Absolutely stunning work by Arrow Video uncovers a fine print. Given the level of fidelity, the source is clearly near the camera negative. Excusing some specks on the opening studio logos, good luck finding any signs of age or damage.

Gifted with immense color saturation (arguably too much so in spots) and brilliant clarity, Arrow’s work preserves every nuance of the plain cinematography. Perfect grain replication, courtesy of a hungry AVC encode, finds spectacular detail hidden for years by lower resolution transfers of Slugs. Ashton (really Lyons, New York) appears sharp in exteriors and close-ups resolve pinpoint details.

Faults only come when considering black levels, which while strong, steer toward a certain murkiness. This doesn’t appear to be a fault of age or even the print. Nothing else shares the fading. Regardless of why, shadows lack density, although not to a catastrophic level. Images still create excellent depth.

Audio

Arrow’s PCM audio preserves the original mono. This means extensive dubbing to cover up non-native English speakers, and some mismatched conversations. Environments are not always paired to dialog. Some extensive echoing obviously came in post, and quality fluctuates between on-set recordings and the dub.

Like the video, preservation of this jumpy source is meticulous. Any damage was negated, excusing one pop during the opening credits. A hilariously inappropriate score (in spots) comes through cleanly.

Extras

Three interviews from April 2016 make up a big hunk of Slugs’ bonus features. Special effects supervisor Carlo De Marchis comes first, with art director Gonzalo Gonzalo up next. Production manager Larry Ann Evans is third, with the added bonus of offering a location tour.

For more, horror author Shaun Hutson offers his thoughts in a commentary, followed by Fangoria writer Chris Alexander on his own track.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.