Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Nest (1988)

I don't know about you, but cockroaches gross me the fuck out. They spread disease, eat almost anything, and they...well, look at them. Plus, they'll be around long after us. In spite of my aversion towards cockroaches, I have a soft spot for Terrence W. Winkless' 1988 nature-run-amok film "The Nest." This sucker was a rental favorite for me back in the day, was produced by Roger Corman and his wife Julie (in fact, this is one of the last truly good Corman productions IMO), and is now out on a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack thanks to the good folks at Shout Factory.

Oh crap, I didn't put it in all the way when I zipped up...

Something bad is happening in the town of North Port. Lately, it seems that the remains of animals and even people are showing up half eaten. Book bindings are loosing the glue that holds them together. Sheriff Richard Tarbell (Franc Luz) knows somethings up, as does Mayor Elias Johnson (Robert Lansing), who wants an investigation. What Dr. Morgan Hubbard (Terri Treas) discovers is that it's cockroaches left over from a prior experiment. Seems that they have acquired a taste for living flesh, are a lot harder to kill, and are genetically mutating into whatever living being they consume.

In some ways, there isn't a lot new here. The film, like almost every "nature's revenge" movie in the 70's-today, owes a massive debt to "Jaws" (with a pinch of Carpenter's "The Thing".) The characters are all stock (the corrupt mayor, the mad scientist, the mayor'sinnocent daughter (Lisa Langolos) and the comic relief) and the acting is largely mediocre (only Treas and Stephen Davies as an exterminator stand out.) Thankfully, it gets by for the large part.

Why? Well for starters, the direction by Winkless is actually pretty good, making great use of lighting and setting, and also getting by thanks to a witty script by Robert King.* The other thing that helps is the infectious sense of humor, which ranges from lighthearted (the highpoint being an roach attack on a local diner, with the waitress using it to dispatch them in a variety of ways) the the decidedly dark (a roach attack on a lady in a leg cast.) In short, you can tell that this is a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. Oh, and fans of nasty creature effects and gore are going to love the third act, in which hideous, CGI free mutants and some gooey gore effects show up. Finally, there's the whole spirit of the thing, as it has so much of what makes Corman productions fun-a sense of pure energetic spirit and can-do attitude.

Hmmm, I recognize you...

Funny, unpretentious and filled with beasts, blood and B-movie energy-"The Nest" is the kind of thing that reminds you why so many love 80's horror. It's not a classic, but it's a lost gem that should please fans of these kinds of movies.

Rating: 7.5/10

*King was mostly known for a while as the writer of the notorious flop "Cutthroat Island." These days however, he's gotten the last laugh, as he went on the be the creator of the acclaimed CBS series "The Good Wife."

No comments:

Post a Comment