natural horror

The Nest

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.

Exterminate! Exterminate!

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]

Slugs

In journalism, a slug is a short name given to an article in production. Also short, the entirely comprehensive (and accurate) IMDb summary of Slugs: “killer slugs on the rampage in a rural community…”

And rampage they do.

Now, there is a list as long as your arm of horror films adapted from novels: The Shining, Jaws, Deliverance, Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby, but little did we know…so is this one. Author Shaun Hutson (who also did the UK film novelization of The Terminator) told This is Horror, “The film isn’t great, I think we’d all agree on that, but it’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen in my life. Honest. There are far worse films with far bigger budgets foisted on the public every week!”

How true.

Juan Piquer Simón (as J.P. Simon) directs this Spanish-American production (our pal Chris Alexander from Shock Til You Drop does the Blu-ray audio commentary). He also the man behind the memorable — for all the wrong reasons — Pieces.

And yes, things couldn’t get any more simple.

Like other eco horror features, Slugs good ol’ toxic waste gets things rollin’. And there’s a voice of reason, whose warnings go unheeded. And that voice belongs to Mike Brady, and, a la Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, he’s a health inspector. There’s even a scene where Brady is looking into safety concerns at a local boîte

But what puts Slugs over the top, is its incredibly slimy gore. There are exposed eye sockets, innards, outards, etc. And also, some of the slugs contain parasites. In one evocative scene, a woman’s making a light dinner (a salad) for her beau, and anyone with any anxiety about food prep safety, will be particularly swayed by this one…and you see her cut a cross-section of the creature with a kitchen knife. It’s simply incredible.

Also, an amorous couple gets swarmed by slugs in the boudoir. It’s almost too icky.

*** (out of 5)

[CHECK OUT OUR SLUGS PODCAST!]