Tuesday, February 4, 2014


MOSQUITO (1995, directed by Gary Jones, written by Tom Chaney, Steve Hodge, and Gary Jones)
Review by Goat Scrote
Don’t worry, giant mosquitos aren’t going to kill you. You are in absolutely no danger of having your blood completely drained by a sword-sized bug proboscis (“the mouth part of an insect, used for feeding,” as one of the characters helpfully defines it).  There hasn’t been enough oxygen in the atmosphere to support giant insects since the Carboniferous period, 300 million years ago. I just wanted you to know this so you won’t be mind-blastingly, pants-shittingly terrified when you watch “Mosquito”. Here at Theater of Guts, we’re always looking out for the mental health and personal hygiene of you, the viewer, at the expense of our own.
Actually, terror is not really a concern with this awesomely bad sci-fi-horror-comedy. It’s not the kind of movie you watch to be scared, but it’s a fine movie to relax and laugh at (and/or with). Any number of Mosquito-related drinking games spring to mind. Take a shot every time you hear the word proboscis and you will probably really hurt yourself. This is one of those “intentional” B-movies so it’s plenty dumb and it knows it, but it’s also plenty entertaining if you’re into this sort of thing. For crying out loud, during the climax it has Gunnar “I’m Leatherface, bitch” Hansen using a chainsaw to fight giant stop-motion mosquitos in an “Aliens”-inspired nest of monster eggs. Fuck yes!

I know ya'all are jealous of my shirt

There’s an uneven mix of really good and really bad special effects, which adds to the B-grade charm. I have a weakness for stop-motion monsters, I sort of imprinted on Ray Harryhausen as a child. Most of the mosquito action is well-done, with a combination of stop motion and puppets equipped with razor-sharp proboscises dripping green fluid. There are plenty of horribly disfigured, desiccated latex corpses and some fun death scene effects (particularly the eye-popping death around 54 minutes in). Even when the effects are terrible, they’re still more fun than your typical megabudget Michael Bay abomination. Some edits could have made things even snappier, but it’s still tolerably-paced and manages to throw something good at us every few minutes even during the exposition, while it introduces us to the cast of characters.

Do you recognize me without the human skin mask?

Gunnar Hansen plays Earl, the leader of a clan of inbred bank robbers on the run who have the misfortune to try to escape through the mosquito-devastated state park. Meg (Rachel Loiselle) is the newest park ranger and the token girl in the sausage-fest. Fortunately, she’s also smart, tough, pretty, and she is more likely to do the rescuing than to need a rescue. Ray (Tim Lovelace), who fills the “hunky hero” role, is her boyfriend.  Doc Burns (Steve Dixon) is a meteor-hunter working for the Air Force. He is virtually attached the wrist to a Geiger counter, constantly sweeping for meteor radiation. He is also the most deliciously hammy actor in the bunch, and he gets most of the best bad lines (“You… are living… in science fact!”). Last but not least, the movie features Ron Asheton, the guitarist for The Stooges (among other great bands) and the 29th greatest guitarist in history according to Rolling Stone Magazine. He contributed the song that plays over the closing credits (“Stinger Up Yours”). I would’ve loved it if they’d gotten him to do much more. It would’ve really amped up those chases through the woods if they were propelled by some intense finger-shredding guitar, the way Dario Argento does sometimes. Anyway, Ranger Hendricks complains a lot and he seems like a coward at first, but when there’s trouble he turns out to be a reliable team-member who keeps his shit together even in extremes. He saves the whining for after the fighting is over, at least.

I pawned my guitar for this?

The movie starts with an alien spacecraft dropping some kind of pod into Earth’s atmosphere before racing away. A scouting mission gone really, really wrong? Some kind of alien space burial? Or did they just do it to fuck with us?  The space-pod crash lands in a wetland and a mosquito feeds on a spindly gray alien arm. Some time later, Ray and Meg smack into a giant mosquito with their car and the radiator is destroyed by its giant proboscis. They barely manage to hobble the car into town and find a place to stay. Hendricks first appears while spying on the boobs… er, people having fun… in the state park. He gets stuck on mosquito control duty in the campground, carting around a bug-repellent smoke machine as penance for his sins. Meanwhile, Doc Burns is in the woods with his beloved Geiger counter looking for the “meteor”. Earl and his sidekicks meet up with a giant mosquito, and one of the sidekicks accidentally kills the other before Earl blasts the bloodsucker with his shotgun.

How do I use this thing?
Along the way  we see a few campers get killed. First a fisherman dies by eye impalement . The mosquitos are Fulci fans too! Two campers are making whoopee in their tent, but when he gets up to pee, she gets molested by mosquito feelers and then impaled in the butt cheek. It’s that kind of class and subtlety that makes this a real work of art! Her boyfriend keeps sipping his beer while he runs back to investigate the screams. Yep, classy.
Back in town Ray and Meg meet Doc Parks. He says he works for the Air Force as a meteorologist, which, he explains, is someone who studies meteors. Ha! (I think those people are usually called “astronomers”.) They all head for the state park and apparently the eerie silence and the stink of corpses isn’t enough of a hint to turn back. The campground is littered with bodies that have turned all gray and oogy from having their precious bodily fluids drained. The group rescued Hendricks, still alive in hiding. There are a few dead monsterquitos around, so now they know what to watch out for.

Pardon me can you spare some jugular juice
The phones are down, the power is out, and the radio is wrecked. When the mosquitos return, Doc and company commandeer an RV and haul ass. After nightfall they stop to help some strangers by the side of the road. It turns out to be Earl and his remaining sidekick, who try to hijack the RV.  Earl and Doc Burns swap stilted, wooden threats before they have a Shatner-quality fight. The heroes are too nice to leave anyone by the side of the road to be bug food, so they tie up the thugs and take them along, with the money from the bank heist.
Motivated by certain death flying behind them, Doc drives the huge recreational vehicle like a madman. Meg ends up thrown halfway out the door just as the skeeters catch up and start busting in through windows and sawing through walls. In the chaos the shotgun gets fired up down and all around, but miraculously manage to avoid hitting any humans in the confined space or shooting their own tires through the floor or whatever. Earl busts free and helps kill mosquitos, but the moment he gets a chance he takes Meg hostage. She expresses her feelings about this by stabbing him with a broken proboscis and kicking him in the nuts. Wrong lady to threaten! Hendricks gets skewered in the leg when the mosquitos attack again. One particularly unlucky skeeter ends up getting super spin-cycled when he stabs an RV tire, and the blowout ends up flipping the RV on its side.

Don't you love the awesome flavor of tepid Bud in the can?
Yet another attack ends with Earl’s last remaining sidekick getting siphoned and dumping the bag of money into the wind. The rest escape down a system of drainage culverts and save themselves by setting their t-shirts on fire in the tunnels. (After taking them off, of course.) Apparently the smell of burning human BO drives away the mosquitos because the survivors are safe until morning.
They speculate that a radioactive meteor is causing swamp creatures to grow to gigantic proportions, because anyone who has ever seen a 50s sci-fi movie knows that’s what radiation does. In the morning, they make it to a farmhouse, board it up, and prepare to defend it with their remaining ammo. While they’re hanging out, the skeeters have snuck in anyway to lay a shitload of eggs in the basement. Meg and Doc decide this means the farmhouse is at the center of the weird outbreak.

I like my chicken bug flamebroiled 
They hatch a pretty risky plan to fill the house with gas, set a flame on a 3-minute timer, let the mosquitos in, ride the dumbwaiter up to the top floor (why not run up the stairs and close a door behind you…?), so they can escape onto the roof and get away before it all blows. Meg and Ray make it, but Hendricks gets a raw deal when the dumbwaiter breaks and drops him.
Earl and his chainsaw decide to go after Hendrick into the basement, where the eggs are starting to hatch. It’s a little tribute to Aliens, with Gunnar Hansen as Sigourney Weaver. It’s a pretty great scene, but it doesn’t end well for Earl. Doc is trapped in the kitchen, the mosquitos are closing in, and the timer is counting down. The house blows, and Meg and Rex are awfully relieved that the nightmare is over. After the house has burned itself out, which would have taken several hours, they find Doc Burns survived the whole time by hiding in the refrigerator. Apparently breathing is optional when you have a Geiger counter for a friend. The survivors are too thrilled to be alive to ask questions like “how the fuck did you do that?” or to spend time grieving about their dead friends.

You got something under you right eye, let me help you!

Of course, we know that the real source of the outbreak was not discovered, and with that alien corpse still sunk in the swamp there’s no reason it couldn’t all start right over again. The credits say the Gray Beast’s whereabouts are “unknown”, and Gary Jones planned a sequel at one time, but the idea was scrapped so don’t hold your breath.

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