Michael Rooker

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. We start to wrap up with “Slither,” starring Nathan Fillion.

Films like “Slither” are far too rare, bonafide creature-features with a great eye for the gross-out and a strong handle on characters to boot. Writer-director James Gunn has one of the weirdest sensibilities in genre filmmaking today, and his superhero riff “Super” is one of the most profoundly disturbing films out there about men in masks. But “Slither” is an entirely different beast, depicting perhaps the most disgusting alien invasion of all time.

Set in a small town, “Slither” makes the onslaught of the aliens believable and harrowing. Grant (Michael Rooker), frustrated with his marriage to Starla (Elizabeth Banks), absconds into the woods one night and is attacked and infested by an alien. Before long he begins to mutate, and it’s up to Starla and Police Chief Bill (Nathan Fillion) to save the day.

“Slither” throws a ton of genre elements into a blender, irreverently tackling zombies, aliens and an insane amount of phallic imagery, most of it literalized by the slimy intergalactic worms that force their way into the mouths of the townspeople and take over their bodies. While the CGI effects that bring these worms to life can be spotty, the practical effects throughout the film are exceptional, especially the increasingly grotesque makeup that Grant dons as his condition becomes more and more dire.

Rooker has a blast acting behind layers of prosthetics, hamming it up in every scene, and he has such a good time that it carries the film through a slow first half. Once the aliens start to gain a foothold in the town, “Slither” becomes a shamelessly gory creature feature, unafraid to go for some memorably disgusting sight gags, and Fillion’s charisma sells every new development, however incredulously.

“Slither” may not be an especially scary movie, but it’s a lot of fun to watch, and is full of great jokes and delightfully gross concepts. Besides, after 30 days of terror, you could probably use a little fun, right?

"The Walking Dead" begins to wrap up a frustrating third season

Of all the shows I keep up with on a regular basis, “The Walking Dead” is easily the most narratively misguided, with nearly every episode featuring scattered characterization and inert melodrama. Nonetheless, week-to-week, there are few things as satisfying as seeing the show’s gleefully gory depiction of a zombie-ridden wasteland.

“This Sorrowful Life,” the penultimate episode of the series’ third season, showcased both the best and the worst of “The Walking Dead.” The show has consistently struggled to get a handle on its characters, and (SPOILER) this episode killed off Michael Rooker’s Merle, one of the few survivors left from the first season. Merle was always a deeply problematic character, but his return in the third season amounted to a redemption arc that stopped and started without much insight into Merle as a character, despite Michael Rooker’s valiant attempts to keep Merle compelling. His death may have resulted in a big blow towards the Governor’s forces, an exciting climax for the episode and a great final scene for Daryl (Norman Reedus), but Merle never amounted to anything more than another example of “The Walking Dead” squandering a character who didn’t have much potential to begin with.

Famous makeup man Greg Nicotero has directed a handful of “The Walking Dead” episodes, and his staging of several big action sequences didn’t fail to excite. Merle’s consequences-be-damned assault on the Governor was genuinely thrilling, and the smart use of zombies as a strategic weapon is something I’d like to see more of in the finale. The Zombie Kill of the Week easily belongs to Michonne’s innovative wire-to-pillar decapitation, although the casualness with which she was popping walkers’ skulls off in the episode’s opening was wryly funny.

Next week’s season finale promises to bring an end to the Governor-Rick battle of wills that’s driven the season, an arc that has continued to display the show’s struggles in building credible dramatic conflict and consistent characterization. Nonetheless, “The Walking Dead” has an undeniable knack for ramping up tension when it counts, and hopefully the third season will end on a satisfying note.