Posts Tagged ‘Don’t Mess with Mother Nature


Leeches! (2003)

Very recently I decided it was make or break with my disc rental service from Netflix. All too often the movies sit there and don’t get watched for months, and with their selection of available discs diminishing every day, I sometimes have trouble convincing myself it’s worth it. The trouble is, I’ve been a customer for so long it’s just so hard to let go! I’m not the type of person that’s just going to watch whatever’s available; I refuse to be a slave to the availability of films on any streaming service. Netflix disc rental is my safety net. So since we are keeping it, we decided it was high time to push on through the queue.

My gift from Netflix: Hot Boyz with no Shirtz

My gift from Netflix: Hot Boyz with no Shirtz

Unfortunately, the disc we set down to watch that evening was broken. No big deal, we reported it and waited for the replacement. Which was also broken. Okay, that’s weird, there’s no way the third disc will be broken, right? Wrong! So the ever-wonderful Q called customer service, where they had trouble believing us, and handed us an extra disc from our queue while also sending another replacement for the same movie. Wouldn’t you know it, that fourth disc was broken, too. Q called customer service again and was so darn nice to the dude on the phone that he offered us two extra discs from our queue. And that long introduction, my friends, is what got me into the mess of a film called Leeches! Since I usually have time between shipping off one disc and Netflix receiving it, I have time to groom my queue and decide what movie I want next. Unfortunately, the kind generosity of Netflix Customer Service Representative X forced me to end up with a movie I honestly can’t even fathom having put in my queue. My guess is I put it in there somewhere around seven years ago where it languished until it said “Long Wait” next to it, at which point I moved it up top because, well, that’s where all the long waits live.

In the end, though, it is clear that I owe a giant thank you to Netflix Customer Service Representative X, because Leeches! probably never would have made it into the mail if not by accident, and although it is awful, it is awful in new and exciting ways! It’s not that I’m not used to awful horror movies, it’s just that I prefer those awful horror movies to come from a specific window of time (preferably the 60’s – 80’s). So when I saw this flick was from 2003 my first thought was Oh, dear lord, why?

“Dude, leeches! Gross!”

Thankfully, my worst fears were allayed at the very first scene. A young college boy in speedos practicing for a swim meet! In slow motion! He touches his hair as the camera softly graces his young, ideal form… holy crap! This is homoerotic smut! What an exciting, unexpected treat! I have to admit, I had no idea this sub-genre of horror even existed! Thank you Netflix Customer Service Representative X for opening my eyes!

I guess I should go through the plot. Ok, so there’s this college where none of the boys wear clothes. I mean, they wear speedos, and sometimes they wear swim trunks over those speedos, and surely sometimes they wear an earring (sometimes two!) or a necklace. They are really super pumped about being a great swim team, so they’re all on steroids! For some reason, they’re always swimming in this lake that’s right on campus, next to the swimming pool, where you’d think they’d get the best practice, but whatever. As you might have guessed, this idyllic lake is populated with more than just an Adonis or two; it’s also rife with LEECHES!

Still no shirts.

Still no shirts.

Well, that’s not really a big deal, just pick them off and throw them on the floor of the showers in the locker room, right? There’s just one minor problem: the leeches aren’t just feasting on hot-boy blood, but also on the hot-boy steroids! As you can imagine, the leeches grow to a ridiculous size and start wreaking havoc all over this extremely small and mostly-naked campus.

There is other stuff that happens, but obviously nobody watching this movie gives a crap what that is. I’d seen the director’s name, David DeCoteau, on countless used DVDs, some of which we’ve purchased. I had no idea a large part of his career was directing extremely cheap smut! That being said, at least here in Leeches! the smut is quite tame; I don’t think there’s any nudity at all. Just a lot of close-ups of cut abs and whatnot. It’s just so hilariously horny, it’s hard not to enjoy watching it.

Well, there they are ladies and gents, the titular leeches! And still no shirt.

Well, there they are ladies and gents, the titular leeches! And still no shirt.

I’m frankly not sure how many different movies of this ilk I could sit through, but the chances are I’m going to test my limits. At any rate, it’s really good to know this sub-genre is out there; what a gloriously idiotic and empty way to spend 85 minutes.


Isolation (2005)

Nice guy Dan gets down and dirty with his livestock.

Nice guy Dan gets down and dirty with his livestock.

The yearlong abandonment of my Netflix queue has resulted in yet another surprise disc in the mail. I don’t remember putting Isolation in the queue, but I know for a fact I did so absolutely blindly; I’d never heard of the movie before or since, but surely it ended up on the list due to the phrases “bovine fertility” and “genetic study” in the film’s synopsis.

Dan is a broke-ass farmer who sold his livestock to the whims of a genetics company. He doesn’t know the nature of their experiments, really, but John, the scientist behind the operation, assures him it won’t cause his farm any trouble. Orla (Essie Davis), Dan’s veterinarian (and former lover, it would seem) is also in bed with the genetics corporation, and has reason to be suspicious the company’s experiments might not be as harmless as they’d like everyone to think. On top of keeping the true nature of the genetic experimentation secret, the company has made Dan promise to keep his farm isolated from strangers. The secrecy has yet to pay off, however: neither Orla nor Dan have been paid for their part in the experiments.

When one of Dan’s cows is about to give birth, Dan tries his damndest to aid the animal in the process. Unfortunately, the calf is far too large for it to come out naturally, but because Dan’s way behind on his phone bills, he can’t call Orla and must solicit the help of some guy named Jamie who is squatting on his property in a trailer hiding from his lover’s brothers, or something, to help him jerk the calf out of the cow. Needless to say, the Calf is fucked up in all sorts of ways,

Orla (Essie Davis) investigates a nasty situation.

Orla (Essie Davis) investigates a nasty situation.

and when Orla finally makes it to the farm (women’s intuition, I guess?) she discovers the calf was actually pregnant with six babies! Seems the geneticist’s interest in farm efficiency was taken just a little too far. Anyway, one of the calf’s calves not only bites the shit out of Dan and Orla, but also escapes. John believes it can cause a great illness and plans to quarantine the farm, and then you know, the search for freak baby calf thing is on.

Isolation isn’t a terrible movie, and it’s not a great movie. I guess that really just makes it unremarkable. I knew within the first fifteen minutes that it was going to be filled with a bunch of relationship drama that I didn’t care about, and it was, and that detracted a great deal from the film. Dealing with a large corporation’s big scientific secrets and inability or unwillingness to pay those involved sure sounded like a great opportunity for meaningful social commentary. Unfortunately it is totally squandered here, and really has little to say except the usual don’t-fuck-with-mother-nature-or-else-your-farm-will-be-destroyed-and-you-might-have-a-deformed-and-infected-baby. There’s just no complexity or surprise to it at all. Even the parts that are centered around relationship drama that could have been exploited to further our distaste for the corporation at hand here aren’t highlighted at all – like, what was the point of having the couple squatting on the farm? To prove that Dan is a nice

Squatter Jamie doesn't like what he sees.

Squatter Jamie doesn’t like what he sees.

guy? To make that cop that shows up that one time look like a jerk? Maybe, but to what end? All these could be achieved through other means. Honestly, it really seems like nothing more than a dangling, pointless plot line. Same goes for Dan and Orla’s former relationship: okay, they used to screw, now what? Now nothing, it seems. Some pre-fucking sexual tension would have served us better.

On the upside, the acting is all right; no complaints there, though I wouldn’t nominate anyone for any awards or anything. By far the best parts of the movie are those where the practical special effects are featured. There’s definitely tons of gory opportunities, and it feels like any lofty ideas about damning the man were eschewed in favor of grossing out the audience. Which I guess is fine, but only because the effects are actually good. Still, I’d rather watch a movie with more to say and shittier effects than one with great effects and nothing to say. So, if mother nature gone bad is what you’re looking for, there are much better movies around than this one! I can think of two that we watched just recently that far outshine this one. First there’s Bats, which isn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but is slightly more interesting and definitely far more entertaining. There’s also Kingdom of the Spiders, which is a super fun time that didn’t rely on special effects geniuses, to be sure. I’d definitely say give those a try over this one any day.


Bats (1999)

In honor of today’s Blood Moon, the 8th day of 31 Days of Horror is dedicated to the movie Bats, a film of which the original title was, well, duh, Blood Moon. It’s also pretty much the perfect follow-up to Kingdom of the Spidersbecause it’s almost the exact same movie, only made a few decades later and with a stronger female lead. Well that and Lou Diamond Phillips is no Bill Shatner (sorry, Lou).

Lou Diamond Phillips has no time for "Bats"

Lou Diamond Phillips has no time for “Bats”

Dr. Sheila Casper is the best bat expert around. She’s so good in fact the CDC has located her in a remote cave somewhere in Arizona, nearly scaring the crap out of her assistant Jimmy (Leon, or better known as the guy that played Jesus in Madonna’s Like a Prayer video) by landing their helicopter by his work station. It must be pretty serious if the CDC is willing to search out Sheila in such a remote location, but all they really tell her is they have a bat-mergency and they need her help in Gallup, Texas immediately!

For whatever reason, Sheila and Jimmy go with the CDC guy, where Sheriff Emmett Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips) introduced them to some bloody, mangled corpses; seems some freak bats ripped out their throats! But no bat Sheila has ever heard of would do such a thing, they eat things like fruits and nuts, why would they suddenly become

Sheila's all like "why would you mess with mother nature, bro?"

Sheila’s all like “why would you mess with mother nature, bro?”

interested in humans for food? Something tells me the creepy, government-funded Dr. McCabe (Bob Gunton) has some idea as to what’s going on, but dude is tight-lipped until the terror continues to spread. Finally, McCabe is strong-armed into revealing his little secret: seems he’s been doing some experimenting with a pair of flying foxes, futzing around with nature and making them super-intelligent omnivores!

Incredulous, disgusted, and armed-to-the-teeth, Sheila, Jimmy, Kimsey and some other poor suckers set out to fight the evil bastards. Unfortunately, the fight isn’t going to be that easy. Not only has Dr. McCabe got some way of controlling the bats, the military has been called in to bomb the shit out of every cave within a 50-mile radius of Gallup. Jimmy and Sheila know what a disaster that would be; and fuck, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that bats can just fucking fly away, but whatever. Anyway now it’s a race against the moonlight and the bombers to freeze out the bats with their own cockamamie plot.

Waist-deep in Guano!

Waist-deep in Guano!

For as dumb of a movie as it is, Bats is actually thoroughly enjoyable, though for completely different reasons than Kingdom of the Spiders. While a pretty big part of Kingdom was all about the attractive, available Rack Hansen and what woman he’d woo next, there is not a single romantic thread throughout Bats. Sure there is a bit of sexual tension between Sheila and both Jimmy and Kimsey, but no one bones; they’re too busy kicking bat ass! For the most part, the characters are kind of likable, except for McCabe, who you’re obviously supposed to hate.

Another big difference between these two flicks is that no one actually seems to mind that a woman is knowledgeable about the situation at hand; everyone actually listens to what she has to say. That is, of course, except the military; they need a different sort of convincing! And that is perhaps the

McCabe is a nasty old dude with secrets and stuff.

McCabe is a nasty old dude with secrets and stuff.

biggest difference between Bats and Kingdom of the Spiders; the plot here is just a tad more sophisticated, throwing the big bad government into the mix for a whole new layer of who’s-to-blame. In the end it isn’t science vs. nature, or science vs. god, it’s actually science vs. science; the type of science where we learn and appreciate what mother nature has to offer (Sheila) and the type we manipulate to our own advantage without entirely understanding the consequences (McCabe).

Though all of that sounds sort of heavy, it isn’t presented that way. Bats is fully aware that it is meant to entertain you, and that it does. Certainly it’s not the greatest movie I’ve ever seen,

That bat is scary looking, right?

That bat is scary looking, right?

and there were definitely moments when I looked over at Q, eye in half-roll mode, wondering if we were going to keep the disc after it was over. This happened a lot in the first 20 minutes, when everyone said the word “bats” over and over and over again. If one were to have a drink every time someone says “bats,” you’d be on the floor well before the halfway mark. It is also fully aware that the bats special effects are totally awesome! Those fuckers look like miniature flying gargoyles; they’re nasty and even kind of scary, while being funny and goofy at the same time. If you come across a copy, give it a try; it’s at least worth an hour and a half of your time. Also, Lou Diamond Phillips!


Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

On this, the 7th day of 31 Days of Horror, we bring to you only the best: a $1 purchase from an antique mall starring William Shatner! Believe it or not, after over 300 posts we still haven’t made it to a Shatner movie. How is that even possible? No better time to remedy the situation than during 31 Days of Horror.  So, without further ado, I present a masterpiece of 1970’s sci-fi horror: Kingdom of the Spiders.

The town of Verde Valley, Arizona is a sleepy little place. The weeks before the county fair are the most exciting for everyone in the town, and farmer Walter Colby is sure that his prized calf will take home first place! That is until the healthy calf suddenly falls ill without explanation or warning. Frantic, Colby calls in Rack (yes, his name is Rack; don’t worry, there’s a story behind that!) Hansen (Shatner) for help.

Little diddy 'bout Rack & Diane...

Little diddy ’bout Rack & Diane…

Unable to save the calf, the best Hansen can do is send samples to the university in Flagstaff. Worried that he’ll be quarantined, Colby can only sit and wait to hear the fate of the rest of his livestock. Hansen doesn’t seem too worried about that; he thinks his calf’s illness is an isolated, though strange, incident. All that changes when sexy, blonde out-of-towner Diane Ashley comes zipping into town in her flashy car and snazzy big-city suit! She comes from the university with the news that the calf was killed by… wait for it… SPIDER VENOM!

Hansen is incredulous: first of all, a woman is trying to tell him that one spider killed a cow? Silly, silly women; what has the world come to making women scientists?! Everyone knows women are meant to be subdued, and Hansen will surely have his way with Miss Ashley. After all, what woman wouldn’t eventually fall prey to Dr. Rack Hansen’s charms? But I digress; back to the matter at hand: spiders. Yeah, okay so our smart city lady posits that spiders, no longer able to subsist on their normal meal of insects due to the overuse of insecticides like DDT, have now banned together to attack livestock and humans in order to survive. Armed with the knowledge of the enemy, can Hansen & Ashley save Verde Valley from the spiders’ evil web?!

This pilot is covered in spiders!

This pilot is covered in spiders!

Kingdom of the Spiders might be the best buck I’ve ever spent. As surely most of you are aware, movies like this are almost always a gamble, and very rarely does the viewer come out on top. I knew that we’d be in for some enjoyment; Shatner is almost always entertaining, and he definitely lives up to his reputation here as over-actor extraordinaire. But Shatner isn’t the only thing entertaining about Kingdom, it offers the whole kit and caboodle of b-horror fun; cheesy special effects, ridiculous storyline, all sorts of distressed damsels, and some of the slowest-moving villains on screen.

Perhaps the best part about Kingdom is that it’s a 50’s movie made in 1977. If it had been in black and white and had a different star, I totally would have mistaken it for something of that era. Is it an homage to the creepy crawler flicks from the 1950’s, or is it just totally behind the time? Perhaps its concerns over environmentalism update it a bit, but its attitudes towards women and the way it is filmed make it seem like it came from another time. And that is another reason why it is such a joy to watch.

This girl's bed is covered in spiders!

This girl’s bed is covered in spiders!

This is a really dumb movie. The dialog is dumb, the story is dumb, and the people in the film are pretty dumb. But it is an absolute pleasure to watch; the pacing is just right, and in a movie like this that is typically what either saves the day or squashes its potential. It’s the perfect drive-in movie, or heck, the perfect Halloween movie! I’ll confess to being afraid of spiders; I’ve even woken up several times with night terrors caused by a dream where spiders were flying at my face, and this movie didn’t even scare me. It was just sheer, dumb fun. Next time you’re in the mood for some mind-numbing sci-fi horror, this is your movie!


Long Weekend (1978)

After watching Wake in Fright I was pretty insistent that our follow-up film should be Long Weekend, another Aussie “horror” film. This time, though, it’s not the locals to worry about, it’s nature herself!

Long Weekend centers around Peter and Marcia, a married couple experiencing some serious issues. It’s clear straight from the beginning they pretty actively dislike each-other. So what’s a couple that hates each-other to do on a holiday weekend? Peter & Marcia had planned to spend it with another couple, but bow out at the last minute favoring a “long weekend” alone with each-other on a remote beach.

The couple drives through the night, barely speaking to each-other, in search of the beach. When Peter stops off to buy beer, he asks the locals how close they are. The locals have no idea what “beach” he’s talking about. Considering how nasty Marcia’s been lately, it’s understandable why Peter opts to keep her out of the loop and drives along, telling her they’re almost there.

They drive through mud and brush until they finally give up, saying they’ll find the right spot in the morning. Marcia wakes up to a fully-erect tent, and Peter chopping down a tree because, well, “why not?” As the day wears on, the couple’s assault on nature continues: Peter shoots blindly into the water and tosses a beer bottle into the ocean, Marcia mercilessly sprays insecticide on invading ants and steals an eagle egg, oddly cradling it and carrying it all over the place.

Tensions between the couple mount, and we get some hints as to why there’s so much marital strife. Aside from their internal issues, the couple starts to feel very strange about their environment for the weekend: a harpoon gun accidentally goes off and nearly takes off Marcia’s head, a just-defrosted chicken grows mold, and an eagle attacks Peter.

This is another movie that kept me thinking what the fuck is going on here? Marcia and Peter are both pretty despicable people, not just in how they treat each-other, but also in their blatant disregard for their environment. Watching nature wreak havoc on them is pretty enjoyable. Similar to Wake in Fright, the landscape is its own character, here with its own motives. The movie maintains a very subtle tone that keeps you wondering, and I dig that.


Old Wave