Jaws with bugs? Another in a long line of “substitute a shark with your favorite killer critter here” movies, The Nest (1988) is a creature feature that puts the bête noire of apartment-dwellers at the forefront: the ever-icky cockroach.
Set in an ostensible “New England village,” a la the Spielberg chomper, this low budget affair comes complete with palm trees, not exactly indigenous to the State of Massachusetts, and other delightful geographical goofs (opposing car windows showcasing a sunny coastline on either side…Either this is the world’s narrowest island, or maybe it was a leisurely drive down an isthmus?)
And the Jaws similarities don’t end there.
Like other nature-run-amok movies, there are entrepreneurial schemers, looking to make a quick buck, and at the expense of public safety. Here, it’s Intec, an evil corporation in cahoots with a corrupt public official, a mayor desperate to increase tax revenue on the island. His economic development plan includes allowing a biotech firm to set up shop, a start-up with an interesting business model: they’re testing a cockroach in a lab, that’ll feast on other cockroaches! What could possibly go wrong with that?
Cockroaches are inherently nasty. And perfect horror film fodder. But for creatures that can apparently go a month without feeding, you’d never know it here. In The Nest, they make short work of islanders and pets, in it has to be said, rather revolting fashion.
And it’s up to the macho town sheriff, and his ex-paramour and high-school sweetheart (who happens to be the mayor’s daughter) to save the day.
Genre fans will get a kick out of love interest Lisa Langlois, who starred in some 80s cheeseball classics like Happy Birthday to Me and Deadly Eyes.
There’s even an evil scientist who gets aroused by the order, Blattodea (a group that includes termites, another indestructible insect).
As audacious as Slugs, this buggy horror delivers.
*** (out of 5)
[Check out our discussion of The Nest on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]