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The giant insect movie has fallen on hard times as of late. Once, when the Earth was glowing green from numerous nuclear tests and the possibility of A-bomb annihilation seemed a single puff of a Cuban cigar away, the local Bijou was bloated with big-ass bugs. Oversized tarantulas, humungous ants, titanic grasshoppers and monstrous praying manti were the scare staples for men like Bert I. Gordon and companies like American International Pictures. All throughout the '50s and '60s, as drive-ins ruled the roost and adults were tasting the taboos that exploitation had to offer, the plus-sized pests gave the kiddies something to purposely heavy pet over. Besides, their wee one siblings seemed to enjoy these frequently humorous horror films as part of a muggy Summer matinee. Thankfully, DDT and the '70s knocked some sense into the industry, and after Irwin Allen's Swarm stunk up the box office, insects were no longer seen as a viable entertainment commodity. Someone should have told this to writer/director Clark Brandon. Somehow, he got the bright idea of making a mammoth mosquito movie, and instead of infusing his film with some hilarity or high kitsch value, he took the telling of his tale seriously. The result is the ridiculous and repellant Skeeter, a film so bad that no amount of Deep Woods Off can keep it from spreading its miserable motion picture malaria.
C. Montgomery Burns – sorry, some dude named Mr. Drake – has been using the local mineshaft as a place to dump his seemingly endless supply of industrial waste. Keeping suburbia safe for the increasing influx of white flighters is this corrupt businessman's regular raison d'etra. He even has the local sheriff on the payroll, and that's a good thing. This lewd law enforcement officer needs all the kickbacks he can get to pay for condoms and numerous paternity suits. Former town bad boy Roy Boone is now a deputy, the kind of complex character who spends way too much time in his front yard welding metal together as part of his so-called 'art'. When cows start turning up dead and the citizenry start disappearing, a government official is called in to investigate. Not only does he discover that the main water supply is practically polluted, but he comes across some giant mosquito eggs. Seems Drake's dumping has caused the indigenous insect population to go grow happy, and they're now the size of small ferrets. It is up to Roy, his red headed ex-wench Sarah, and a lot of horror film happenstance to save the city from being bitten to death. Boone must also uncover Drake's deviousness, less he simply start his Skeeter swarming enterprises somewhere else.
Okay fellow entomologists; let's brush up a bit on our mosquito behavioral patterns, shall we? What, exactly, do these pesky summer staples do when they locate a potentially puffy (and ripe with vein juice) victim? Why, they bust out that needle nose of theirs, sink said schnooz into the nearest patch of skin, and start sucking. They don't blow, nibble or nosh – they SUCK! Oddly enough, this gives the claret craven creeps a great deal in common with the god-awful big bug bomb Skeeter. It too sucks, and while that may seem like an easily conceived comic criticism, it does indeed accurately reflect this movie's miserable mediocrity. Loaded with lame F/X (our title terrors are about the size of guinea pigs – BFD) and a collection of recognizable cult character actors – Charles Napier, Jay Robinson, William Sanderson, Michael J. Pollard, Stacy Edwards, and George "Buck" Flowers – what should be a sensational serving of sharp cheddar schlock turns into a tired, talky take on the whole environment poisoning/pissed-off wildlife genre. A good three decades away from when giant insects brought in the boffo box office receipts, this wannabe update on the retro '50s creature feature is so unbathed armpit stinky that you'll swear a sewer pipe backed up into your home theater system – and it some ways, a deluge of said sludge would be much more entertaining than the attempted amusement provided here.
You see, director Clark Brandon can't quite figure out the kind of movie he is making. Part of the plot takes itself so seriously that you half expect Al Gore to show up with his earnest ecology slide show and check off the number of EPA violations the film's main villain is guilty of. On the other hand, Brandon brings in that Peace era Crispin Glover – a.k.a. Michael J. Pollard – to perplex up the narrative with his own nonsensical style of stammering. Essaying the kind of crazed, colorful loon you just know is somehow in cahoots with our extra-large pests, Pollard plays to his own internal audience, delivering his lines in a manner only recognizable to certain shut-ins and savants. He is, without a doubt, the best thing about this mess, yet he's really just a cinematic red herring. His subplot never pays off, and he disappears before the middle act can maneuver the rest of the characters into full finale position. In the meantime, we have Napier as an oversexed sheriff (he is frequently caught in non-cop compromising positions), Sanderson as a spineless government bureaucrat (the film's only brush with reality) and fan friend Flowers as a drunken old idiot. He also plays a fisherman attacked by what he calls "killer ducks". "It was vampire bats" his fellow redneck retorts. Sigh.
Our so-called heroes are no help either. Looking like a refugee from a long lost a-Ha video, Jim Young's Roy Boone is the kind of complex, perceptive stud who makes metal art in his front yard because it gives him a good excuse to constantly strip off his shirt. He even shows up for work (he's one of Napier's non-effective deputies) with his buttons undone in a provocative pose. As the gal pal he once loved, but who eventually left him for the big bad bawdy city, Tracy Griffith is a rigid, henna-haired statue, unable to show the slightest amount of emotional animation, even when she and Young are doing the desert dirty boogie. As the stupid, struggling story slowly slips into a decidedly creepy-crawly-less coma, we get more scenes of underhanded schemes, shots of Napier getting nookie, and the occasional proposed POV of those damn marauding mosquitoes. Indeed, Brandon believes that by desaturating all the colors, adding in a sickening shade of pus, and jittering the camera a little, we'll believe we are seeing the world through the peepers of a freaked out flying insect. Sadly, last time anyone checked, bug eyes are compound, not easily given over to a single select view. It's just another of the numerous flaws that make this incredibly bad movie that much more intolerable. Fright fans are willing to go along with goofy as long as the narrative doesn't strive to be anything but. Skeeter may sound stunted, but its just so bad it's befuddling,
At first, the transfer of Skeeter looks like something Image dubbed off an old VHS version of the title. The images are so foggy and the vistas so murky that you wonder why anyone would dare deliver such a shoddy digital picture. Thankfully, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image gets progressively better, looking downright decent once we reach the climax of the film. Still, this is by no means a pristine presentation. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of this feces will probably pitch a fit about the less than excellent tech specs. Others will be too bored to care.
For some surreal reason, this slapdash production has been given a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound mix. Barely capable of capturing the dialogue, the only thing this multi-channel choice accomplishes is the amplification of the irritating insect noises associated with the movie's monsters. All else, including the crappy underscoring, is flat and lifeless. The 2.0 version is not that much better, but at least the discussions are somewhat more discernible.
Thankfully, this DVD cuts your consideration factor in half by failing to provide a single bonus feature. Could you imagine a more perplexing punishment than having to sit through this home video vomit twice just to hear the director determine that, all in all, there's a pretty good effort up there in the screen? Ugh! While this critic tends to belittle any company that promotes and/or supports the bare bones manner of DVD manufacturing, this is one case where less is not only more, but completely and utterly warranted.
Have you ever had this experience? You're sleeping, and just as your mind is moving between a nice, healthy state of real REM sleep and that annoying, but occasionally refreshing feeling of being half awake, you hear a small buzzing. It grows louder and louder, the pitch pressed way up in tone and timber range. It's obviously some manner of pest, and as your brain battles consciousness, said insect siren keeps wailing in and out of your ear. Eventually, you are so irritated that you practically box yourself in the head, hoping that some manner of harm will come to the flying reason for your irritation? This is exactly what will happen while you watch Skeeter. You will start our mildly annoyed and by the time the movie is meandering toward its conclusion, you'll want to locate the nearest sawed off shotgun and go on a several state – and film set – killing spree. Obviously earning an understandable Skip It, this is one giant insect film that can't even get the title terror right. A mosquito the size of a prairie dog may seem scary, but it's just not as frightening as the amount of monster movie claptrap this undeniable bomb foists upon fear fans. Fumigation is too good for a plague like this pathetic motion picture.
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