Nest, The (1988)

Starring Robert (Empire of the Ants) Lansing, Lisa (Happy Birthday to Me) Langlois, Frank (When Harry Met Sally) Luz, Nancy (Polyester) Morgan, and Terri (The Terror Within) Treas

Directed by Terence H. Winkless

God bless Roger Corman. Ya gotta love him.

North Port is an isolated island community caught up in typical small town shenanigans. Sheriff Richard Tarbell (Luz) is dating Lillian (Morgan), a waitress at the local diner. Things seem to be going well for them until his ex, Elizabeth (Langlois), reappears on the scene. Elizabeth, daughter of Mayor Johnson (Lansing), left town years before to start a new life following her mother’s suicide.

Before this little Peyton Place scenario can reach its boiling point, other, more ominous, events begin happening. Cats and dogs are being devoured. Townsfolk are going missing. And the insect population is getting downright ornery. Mayor Johnson, who knows more than he is letting on, calls in help from the INTEC Corporation. Enter Dr. Morgan Hubbard (Treas). It seems that the good people of INTEC have been conducting experiments that are spinning dangerously out of control. In an attempt to find a viable option to insecticides, they cultivated a cannibalistic strain of cockroaches with the hopes that they would kill each other off. The roaches, however, have decided that they enjoy the taste of flesh and are moving onto bigger prey. They’ve also developed the ability to mutate into whatever they consume. Wholesome family fun ensues!

Produced by the legendary Corman, The Nest is a fast-paced homage to the giant-bugs-attack films of the 1950’s. It also includes the splattery special effects required by audiences of the 1980’s. Some of the gore scenes are stomach churningly effective, especially when one character mutates into a repulsive Roach-Man and then messily steps on the eyeball that just popped out of its own head! I also like the fact that there are no children present in the film. Mixing violence and kids is never an easy trick to manage, and I hate it when children are placed in peril just so the crowd can cheer at some unbelievable “save the brat” scene. This movie wisely avoids the entire issue by not falling back on any of the stock Annoying Little Brother cliches. My only real complaint with the film is that there is never a sense of an entire community being at risk; only the lead characters are placed in jeopardy. And there is no emotional payoff involved with the death of one of the female characters – the discovery of her corpse is treated too flippantly considering the relationship she has with the one who discovers her.

Franc Luz contributes a serviceable performance as the sheriff. Lisa Langlois, looking snappy in her “girls just wanna have fun” wardrobe, delivers better than the material deserves. Elias Johnson seems to have only about 1.6 expressions, and doesn’t develop the Mayor into as complex a character as he should have. The other supporting actors are on a par with what you would expect in this sort of picture; no worse, no better. With one notable exception…

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bow down to the greatness of Terri Treas. Even saddled with a hairstyle and shoulder pads that seem to have been stolen from Sheena Easton’s “Strut” video, she steals every frame of film in which she appears. Although she nails every line perfectly, the scene where she becomes sexually aroused by roaches biting on her arm secures her a spot in the Hall of B-Movies Fame. Brilliant stuff. Why did she not become a bigger star?

With regard to the DVD itself: the movie is presented in “full frame” (Boo! Hiss!). The picture quality, however, is crisp and clean – better than one would expect. A painfully bad power ballad plays continuously over the menus (which should have been better animated; why no roaches running across the screen?). The extras include brief bios of the main actors and a more extensive one for Mr. Corman. Also included are trailers for Humanoids from the Deep, The Unborn, and The Terror Within (also featuring Treas). I couldn’t find a trailer for the main feature, though. Odd. The DVD cover incorporates the original poster art featuring an illustration of a giant roach attacking a scantily clad gal (“Roaches have never tasted flesh…until now. She’s just an appetizer.”). The somewhat sexual pose is a bit off-putting, tho.

The Nest has decent acting, a quick pace, icky effects, and some witty dialogue. And most importantly, there is no CGI to ruin the party. All things considered, more than worth the $8.99 I paid.

“Well, honey, I’m on the 40 side of 30. I make my living serving broken eggs to the locals. And my father spends his leisure hours in a garbage dump!”

3 ½ out of 5

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