[5.0 stars] Slither (1973) on IMDb [Amazon]

Not to be confused with the more recent horror movie of a few years ago. This is a 1973 screwball comedy that I fondly remembered from back then. A real-DVD version is apparently not to be had (so Netflix is out), but some good folks made it legally available on DVD-R. I asked for it for Christmas, and finally got some free time to watch.

Slightly odder than I remember. But maybe I just got a lot more normal since 1973.

James Caan plays the protagonist, affable small-time crook Dick Kanipsia. He's just been released from prison, along with fellow con Harry Moss (Richard B. Shull). Dick would prefer to just go his own way, but Harry pressures him into a brief visit to his ramshackle home.

Out of the blue, unseen assassins shoot Harry. Near death, Harry confides a secret to Dick, one that (he claims) will lead him to wealth beyond his wildest imaginings.

(Spoiler: that turns out to be around $312,000.)

Dick escapes with his life, and sets out to find the cash. This involves a rendezvous with Barry Fenaka (Peter Boyle) and his wife Mary (Louise Lasser). Along the way, he gets involved with nearly-psychotic Kitty Kopetzky (Sally Kellerman). Unbeknownst to Dick, he's being shadowed by Harry's killers, in a menacing black RV.

It's a lot of fun; Caan does a fine job of playing straight man to unrelenting bizarre insanity, all played out in rural and smalltown California of the early 70's. I'm not recommending you shell out for the DVD-R, but if you get a chance otherwise, I think you won't be sorry.

Last Modified 2012-09-21 10:49 AM EDT