Sunday, September 2, 2012

James Caan & Sally Kellerman in Slither (1973)

Car thief, Dick Kanipsia has just gotten out of prison. With no real plans, he drifts, until the possibility of a fortune drops into his lap. This possibility sends him on a strange and unsettling road trip where he meets kooky and slightly psychotic Kitty Kopetzky (Kellerman) and the Fenakas (Peter Boyle & Louise Lasser), a band leader and his wife, also in pursuit of the loot. They join forces and pile into the Fenaka's Airstream trailer, only to be pursued by an ominous black van, which soon multiplies into two. Will our band of intrepid travelers reach their goal before being overtaken by the unidentified evil lurking behind them?

This is a very strange film. For starters, the title says nothing about it and is much better suited to the 2006 horror film that shares it, and the circumstances are bizzarre and have a random quality to them that can be confusing. That being said, oddly enough the film holds together well. It's really because of the character portraits created by these talented actors. It's very much a black comedy, with some very funny twists to it. Look for character actors Alex Rocco, Richard B. Shull and Allen Garfield in small but pivotal roles.
Slither is available on DVD. Above is the trailer for it from the TCM site. Other scenes from the film can be watched at TCM, but I haven't been able to find the full film available online.

Obscurity factor: 9 (largely forgotten, on DVD, otherwise hard to find)


  1. Love Peter Boyle. He is missed.

    Love your blog. Lots of great films & info :)

  2. Yes, he's such a great character. Loved him in Young Frankenstein...

  3. I remember the ads for it; never saw the movie.

    Did you ever cover The Name of the Game? I wonder why there is not that much attention paid to this ground-breaking series by TV or film historians--considering that it launched the careers of Stephen Spielberg and Steven Bochco.

    And guest-starred a lot of Golden Age film stars, such as Broderick Crawford, Gene Tierney,Orson Welles, etc. One two-part episode had cameos from the entire Vegas Rat Pack (except Judy Garland who was dead by then).

    You can get some of the eps.on Bootleg DVD but that's it. Nothing but trailers on Youtube.

  4. I considered it, but thought it might have been too much of a hit to feature - ie not obscure enough. I did feature Bracken's World, which reminded me of it:

  5. Yup, I remember Bracken's World with Peter Haskell--who was in a lot of stuff on TV in the 70s, including The Eyes of Charles Sand and Love, Hate, Love--an interesting stalker-thriller TV movie with Ryan O'Neal and Leslie Ann Warren.

    The bootleg DVDs of The Name of the Game are missing 17 episodes, among them "We Love You, Billy Baker" which was the two-part Rat Pack episode starring Sammy Davis Jr. and featuring cameos by Frank, Dino, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.

    It's a shame that the series has never gotten the official DVD treatment.

  6. Yes, it is... Perhaps if a remake was planned it would shine some light on the original.

  7. I found two randcom clips on youtube from the Billy Baker eps:

    1. Sammy Davis and impressionist Marilyn Michaels in a really great duet (after Michaels does impressions of Barbra and Judy):

    2.) Sammy, Ray Charles and Vegas crooner Tony Martin doing another number:

  8. Fun videos! Thanks for sharing...

  9. They are worth watching just for Sammy's weird hippy wig and bizarre haute 70s hipster fashions.

    Ray Charles was a phenomenally talented invidivudal. In the second clip, he blows both Sammy and Tony Martin totally out of the water. What a treasure that man was.

  10. Yes, indeed. He makes it look so easy.