What with very real horrors readily visible in news broadcasts (from Iraq, for one), escapist horror seems the order of the day in the multiplexes. Last year there was "Saw 2," "Hostel," "The Devil's Rejects," "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist" and remakes of "House of Wax" and "The Amityville Horror" among many others; this year there's "The Hills Have Eyes" and the just-released "Silent Hill."
Maybe my biggest problem with all these slash-and-splat flicks is the lack of humor in them; solemn horror now being the dominion of Japanese filmmakers (I'm thinking of Hideo Nakata, whose "The Ring Two" was an underrated little gem, and Kurosawa Kyoshi, the best living practitioner of the genre in Japan--and one of the best in the world, for that matter), most attempts by American directors to be taken seriously will end in a fit of giggles. American directors are better off going in a different direction--the 'horror comedy' for one, which requires the kind of aggressive irreverence they are particularly gifted at (and in fact there already is one American master of the genre, the late, great James Whale). American horror needs, in short, to get back to being fun again.
James Gunn's "Slithers" is horrible fun, a mishmash of half-a-dozen titles including a few classics (the opening is straight out of the original "The Blob"), with references to half a dozen more, including "Rosemary's Baby," "The Thing," "Basket Case," and "Tremors" (don't be intimidated by all the arcane allusions, though--there's plenty to cringe at, and laugh at too).