Spawn of the Slithis (1978)

Spawn of the Slithis (1978) movie poster

director Stephen Traxler
viewed: 09/13/2015

Check one off the old bucket list: Seeing Slithis (1978) again.

When I was 9 years old, my dad took me and my best friend of the time to see Slithis in the theater in Gainesville, FL. As obscure as Slithis is today, we were primed for its local advertising push and were rabid monster movie kids, probably the most excited people on Earth to see Slithis ever. Gainesville, FL was a long ways from NYC’s 42nd Street and the grindhouses of LA. I don’t know how Slithis made it there in the first place, but it was a wild anomaly.

And a massively disappointing one at the time. To be honest, it’s not a great movie, certainly not what we were hoping for.

But also it is a strange and cool interesting horror film, wildly ranging from some of the weirdest and worst film editing ever and to some strangely hip and well-done character acting for such a low-budget film with nobody famous anywhere in sight. (Although I also want to call out Alejandro Voss, who plays the police chief, as perhaps the greatest over-acting ever done. He seriously doesn’t close his mouth when he chews the scenery. He’s amazingly over-the-top…and I mean amazingly.)

Slithis is a derivative of the “gill-man” movie. A muscular, sleazy knock off who prowls the canals of Venice Beach, CA. The canals and other local areas actually add a lot of character to this film. It’s badly shot and badly edited and yet still carries a sense of place and time.

I have these vivid images in my mind from this film, from the age of 9. Namely an opening scene of dead dogs on the side of the canal and then later the light-brown suede boot clad legs of a young girl getting ravaged by the beast. Those suede boots and those legs have stayed somewhere in my mind all these many years since (37 but who is counting?)

I wish I still had my Slithis Survival Kit (we did get one when we saw the film).  See for a sample.

As disappointing as the film was, I don’t know that there was another film that was so unusual, so specific that I saw as a kid that made such an impression on me — and maybe it’s really the marketing and the hype that I’m talking about. But when I look back on my formative film-going childhood, I don’t doubt that Slithis played a singular and unique part of the formation of my interests in movies (along with lots of other things, too, sure.)

I caught this at random as being available on Amazon Prime. They have such a strange and wonderful trove of content and it’s amazingly poorly organized and impossible to sort through to know what is available. And even more oddly, this version seemed like someone’s VHS copy uploaded to the cloud, featuring a few hinky VHS glitches not like your typical digital streaming glitches.

Whatever the case, I am happy. I’ve been wanting to re-watch Slithis (as we knew it — not Spawn of the Slithis) for years.

I am that much closer to dying without regrets.

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