With the majority of horror and sci-fi films of the past two decades being just awful, it's nice to find a pleasant(well, pleasant may not be the right word) surprise with "SLITHER", released as a HD-DVD combo format from UNIVERSAL. While it isn't unpredictable, somehow it still has a daring atmosphere to it, in the same way "NIGHT OF THE COMET" and the original "TREMORS" managed to. Michael Rooker is a successful husband with a less than loving wife, whom comes upon remnants of a meteor one night. The creature within it invades his body ala "X-FILES" style and he develops a schizophrenic personality with an unquenchable hunger for large quantities of raw meat. But, those are the least of his problems as he starts turning the local community into mutations of their former selves. Some of the gross-out special effects work better than others, but overall, "SLITHER" is a fun, sometimes even suspenseful, sci-fi/horror film worth seeking out.
UNIVERSAL has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this release. The HD-DVD offers a 1080p/VC-1 transfer. "SLITHER" varies in quality, with the first half looking good, but lacking great depth. The 2nd half changes in its image quality, offering three-dimensional depth and richer colors. Blacks are deep and contrast is excellent throughout. While the dvd on the opposite side looks fine, the overall image is softer, without shadow delineation found on the HD-DVD.
UNIVERSAL has provided a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix, encode at 640kbps. Surrounds are utilized effectively in a few instances, but these are few and far between. The fidelity is impressive and bass effects enhance the effectiveness of a few key sequences. Dialogue is well balanced, although overshadowed by layers of effects in one sequence. While the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the standard dvd side is comparable to the Plus 5.1 mix, it's not at sharp and well balanced.
UNIVERSAL has loaded this release with extras, offering the same audio commentary for both HD-DVD and dvd. There are some in-depth featurettes and almost 20 minutes of deleted scenes.