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Mansquito (2005)

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Starring Corin Nemec, Musetta Vander, Patrick Dreikauss, and The Mansquito

Directed by Tibor Takacs


Saturday, March 12, 2005 – A date that will go down in history as the night the Sci-Fi Channel at long last premiered a movie made specifically for their network that was actually pretty damn entertaining. Today the sun shines a little brighter, the flowers smell that much better, the well of souls has been refilled, and I can learn to love again. Thank you, Mansquito, thank you!

Seriously though, Mansquito is a fun throwback to the b-movies of yore that’s more entertaining than it has any right to be. Perhaps it was just dumb luck or maybe the law of averages finally caught up with them but the Sci-Fi Channel finally produced a winner. What took them so long anyway?

A new strain of the flu or some virus along those lines transmitted by mosquitoes is running rampant and threatening to turn into an all-out pandemic. Dr. Sexy Brunette (the sexy brunette Musetta Vander) works in a high-tech lab conducting genetic experiments on mosquitoes in hopes of creating some genetically altered form of the bug with hopes of releasing it into the wild to mate with regular mosquitoes and thus somehow wiping out the virus. I really don’t understand how it’s actually supposed to work but then it really isn’t all that crucial to the plot. What is important is that she uses this great big experimental nuclear reactor to scramble their DNA. While her experiments are showing tremendous promise she still isn’t quite ready to experiment on a human subject. Hey, I thought the plan was to release the bugs into the wild and…Or were they trying to actually develop an outright vaccine? Eh, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it involves a great big nuclear reactor that scrambles DNA, right?

Anyway, her boss, Dr. Drunken Prick, isn’t satisfied with her progress and arranges for a human test subject to be brought to the lab for experimentation. In the grand tradition of movie concepts that always result in carnage and tragedy, that test subject just happens to be a death row convict. Sure enough, he makes a break for it in the lab right in the middle of one her mosquito DNA rescrambling experiments and the next thing you know the reactor is going boom. The sociopath ends up covered in some radioactive goo whereas Dr. Sexy Brunette only gets a little dab on her arm. The contaminated criminal still manages to escape the facility through one of those conveniently placed access tunnels but he doesn’t get too far before one of his arms morphs into a large insectoid appendage.

Dr. Sexy Brunette’s boyfriend just happens to be a cop, and not just any cop, but the cop that arrested the death row convict to begin with. See how it all comes full circle? Detective Poor Man’s Frank Whaley (TV’s “Parker Lewis” and “Stargate SG-1” alumnus Corin Nemec) consoles his girlfriend before going in pursuit of the criminal at large.

Meanwhile, Dead Man Sucking shows up at his girlfriend’s apartment and is nice enough to wait for her to come home before completing his transformation into Mansquito. After ending their relationship by going down on her in a way that only a Mansquito can, he’s off on a cross-town killing and sucking spree.

While a seven-foot, two-legged mosquito man goes around the city somehow unnoticed by everyone except his victims and Detective Poor Man’s Frank Whaley follows trying to make sense of the escaped killer’s bizarre new killing spree, Dr. Sexy Brunette begins to experience the early stages of Brundle Fly Syndrome. Remember, she only got a little bit of that gunk on her so it will take a lot longer for her to become Womansquito. Her symptoms include painful skin irritations, glowing red contact lenses, ability to see in a reddish x-ray vision that highlights a person’s arteries, a sort of “Skeeter Sense”, and a taste for blood, including taking a bite out of her boyfriend during foreplay, which judging by his lack of a strong reaction must not be all that out of the ordinary for her.

As it is soon discovered, the mosquito side of Mansquito is in complete control now and that means two things: it wants to suck more than Jenna Jameson at a vacuum cleaner convention and it really wants to get it on with a sexy brunette that’s slowly turning into a sexy brunette mosquito lady.

From there on out, it’s pretty rudimentary plot wise. Mansquito kills everyone that gets in his way as he seeks out Dr. Sexy Brunette, who keeps going back and forth between playing damsel in distress and determined scientist looking for a solution, and the only person really standing in the monster’s way is Detective Poor Man’s Frank Whaley. Can he stop the Mansquito? Hey, don’t you know Parker Lewis can’t lose? Insert rimshot and/or groans here.

Yeah, Mansquito is cheesy as hell but it has enough energy and goofy charm to gloss over the usual spate of coincidences and contrivances. Compared to most of the low budget monster movies that go direct to video or straight to cable, Mansquito is almost a minor masterpiece. The script doesn’t constantly bog itself down with tons of exposition or scenes that have nothing to do with the plot or unnecessary comic relief characters and director Tibor Takacs, no stranger to directing this sort of film having previously helmed I, Madman and both of The Gate movies, is smart enough to keep the movie going, never dwelling on any scene for too long lest you actually begin to think about it.

Oh sure, the monster has the magical ability to show up at exactly the right place at the right time, usually going unnoticed until it’s too late. Hell, there’s one scene at the lab where she gets into an argument with Dr. Drunken Prick and the moment she exits the room, and I do mean that very moment, the monster comes crashing down through the skylight to kill him. We’re just supposed to believe that Mansquito showed up to keep an eye on her at work, instantly decided to kill this jerk that upset his woman, and apparently just went home or at least elsewhere afterwards. Mansquito also just happens to be bullet proof for reasons never explained. I can accept that but then later on it turns out he’s immune to massive explosions that take out the entire floor of a building.

And if you’re just a petty security guard and you’ve just found the entire SWAT team massacred then basic human logic should tell you that you and your petty pistol are not going to stop the monster.

Still, I really didn’t mind the usual cavalcade of loopiness at all. I usually find myself keeping a mental catalog of all the contrivances, coincidences, and general stupidity when watching movies of this ilk. While I certainly couldn’t help but to take stock of a few I never found myself dwelling on them like I normally would nor did it ever impede my enjoyment of the movie. When that happens then I know the filmmakers are doing something right.

The real triumph of the film is the Mansquito itself. I’ve often decried the overuse and abuse of bad CGI in today’s low budget b-movies. Here they use it perfectly. The majority of the time the Mansquito is an old fashioned man in a rubber monster suit. A very well made rubber monster suit if I say so myself. F/X maven Tony Gardner deserves a pat on the back for this wonderfully monstrous creation. There are computer effects involved but only when you see the monster from the waist down or flying. The legs and wings have been inserted by CGI when needed. This practical combination of live action and CGI effects works beautifully. While still not 100% realistic it doesn’t hit you right between the eyes like the CGI we’ve all seen in countless other films of this type. The CGI is so well done for this type of movie I find it hard to believe.

I must say I was also quite surprised by the amount of blood on display and the amount the Sci-Fi Channel allowed to air. It had seemed relatively tame until late in the movie when Mansquito goes on a Terminator-style rampage at a hospital in pursuit of the girl. Impalings, dismemberment, and even one poor guy’s skull getting (Irony Alert!) squashed like a bug are on display. Gore itself does not impress me but when it is done well and used effectively then I do welcome the bloodshed and this hospital massacre is an outright bloodbath. Now this is the kind of nature gone amok that we want! Mansquito is a serious badass.

And it doesn’t suck either!


3 out of 5

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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User Rating 3.5 (14 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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User Rating 4.1 (21 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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