Genius Entertainment, in conjunction with RHI Entertainment, has been releasing a number of cheaply made creature features under a banner titled Maneater Series. These movies first appear on the Sci Fi Channel before getting dumped onto the DVD market. Apparently, this Maneater Series has had some modicum of success, as box sets of previously released titles are just about set for the home video marketplace.
By my count, The Hive is the ninth entry in the Maneater Series.
And yes, it has already aired on the Sci Fi Channel.
And yes, The Hive is about what you'd expect from a film debuting on the Sci Fi Channel: it's cheap and it features poorly rendered CGI killer animals (well, insects in this case).
And yet, strangely, I have to confess that The Hive is surprisingly entertaining. This is perhaps the most engaging Sci-Fi Channel film I've seen in quite some time, and certainly the best movie from the Maneater Series I've been sent to review (though, granted, I've only had to sit through roughly half of them so far).
By no means am I saying this is a good movie, but as bad movies go, The Hive is consistently silly, never boring, and plentiful in moments that are ripe for Mystery Science Theater 3000-style mockery.
In other words, this is one fun trashy movie.
The Hive introduces us to Team Thorax - a professional extermination crew charged with taking care of ant swarms in what a "news feature" at the start of the movie describes as a "S.E. Asian island." The blurb on the DVD cover art states this takes place in Brazil - I'm not sure how whoever wrote that came up with Brazil. This film was clearly made in Thailand, as was a similar feature included in the Maneater Series called Croc. In any case, Team Thorax walk around in containment suits with the company's logo and shoot pulse weapons at swarms of ants, incinerating them with some kind of incorporated pesticide. Oh yes, the team leader also drives around in a monstrous-sized SUV with the company's logo emblazoned on it. They look like a cross between a Hazmat team and the Ghostbusters.
In conjunction with the local army, Team Thorax tries to save the local villages from one of the largest swarms of ants they've ever encountered. These ants are intelligent and deadly, and apparently governed by some kind of glowing thing that fell from the sky. They eat the flesh off of people in a flash, but they also take hostages and negotiate with humans (yes, you read that correctly). Such an uncanny foe leads Team Thorax's leader Len (Kal Weber) to call up help from his ex-girlfriend and ex-hiking partner Claire (Elizabeth Healey), who happens to also be an ant expert. And, as often happens in the middle of killer creature movies, Len and Claire find the opportunity to rekindle their romantic affections for one another.
Whoo boy. Even by Sci Fi Channel standards, this one's really far-fetched. The acting is atrocious. The dialogue stilted. The special effects laughable. The director's usage of the zoom repetitive. The Hive offers up flame throwers, fleeing villagers, and fake tech left and right. The local army runs around a lot, and Team Thorax gets to shoot their cannons quite a bit. It's all really bad, but it somehow works. Most of these Sci Fi Channel productions get bogged down with unconvincing character interactions and routine scripts. The Hive, on the other hand, goes all out on the ridiculous scale and keeps things moving along with a lot of action.
It's kind of fun and worth a look. Rent it.
The Hive is given an okay video presentation here. The image is widescreen (the DVD's back cover states it preserves the aspect ratio of the original television exhibition) and it is anamorphic. Video noise is noticeable in darker scenes and some artifacts occur throughout. In general, though, the image looks acceptably clean and detailed.
The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0. Like the video quality, the audio here is passable and efficient. Dialogue is always clear. The mix isn't particularly dynamic, however, perhaps indicative of the low budget and television roots for this film.
There are neither subtitle nor alternate audio options on this disc.
When the disc is played, a trailer for the Maneater series of films available on DVD precedes the main menu.
And that's it for extras. The main menu demonstrates how sparse this disc is. Only two options are available on it: Play and Scene Selections.
Ridiculous and awful - but in a good way - The Hive is one of the more entertaining bad movies I've seen this year. Rent it if you're in the mood for sci-fi cheese or want to have something to make fun of as you watch.