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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Mosquito: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
Mosquito: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
Synapse Films // R // October 13, 2015 // Region Free
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 4, 2015 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The opening shot is of a spaceship soaring through the heavens. You get a dead alien and a mosquito the size of a Great Dane before the counter has even ticked to the three minute mark. Ron Asheton from The Stooges scores second billing. Gunnar Hansen -- the one, true Leatherface! -- picks up a chainsaw for the first time in decades to carve his way through a legion of rubber skeeters. These monstrous bloodsuckers are brought to life through puppetry, stop-motion animation, a little 2D animation, and...well, pretty much every pre-CGI technique you can rattle off. It's co-written and directed by a guy whose special effects credits include Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, and that Renaissance Pictures DNA is felt in all the whip pans and the mosquito's-eye-view camerawork tearing through the woods. Mosquito is a goopy, gruesome, Ultraslime-slathered love letter to giant bug movies on late night TV, and if you need more of a review that that, I don't really know what to tell you.

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Ray and Megan (Tim Lovelace and Rachel Loiselle) stumble onto the first of these oversized bloodsuckers. This guy doesn't just splatter across their windshield, though, with his proboscis piercing their radiator and stranding 'em in the middle of nowhere. How is Megan gonna make it to her first day of work as a park ranger in time? A meteor chasing scientist type (Steve Dixon) is more than willing to give 'em a ride, but when they arrive at the state park, they're greeted by dozens of dessicated corpses. Whatever that creature was they plowed into on the road, it sure wasn't the only one. The survivors' numbers soon swell like a skeeter's gut -- a cowardly park ranger (Ron Asheton) here, a pair of murderous brothers (Gunnar Hansen and Mike Hard) scheming to steal their shit there -- but they're hopelessly outmatched and outgunnedout-proboscis-ized by the hundreds upon hundreds of mammoth mosquitos hungry for their next meal.

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Save the so-bad-it's-good snark for another review. Mosquito isn't an accidental classic; it's exactly (or, okay, mostly) the movie that Gary Jones and company set out to make. A big part of that is hitting the ground running. The premise isn't any more complicated than "don't get skewered by giant skeeters", and Mosquito never gets distracted by cutting away to baffled scientists or ineffective cops or whatever. For an hour and a half straight, someone's either being drained of every drop of blood, is frantically on the run, or bracing themselves for the next onslaught. Mosquito gleefully leaps from one setpiece to another: that sprawling graveyard of a state park, a manic chase in an RV, an escape through storm drains that reminds me more than a little bit of Alien, and a siege on a Night of the Living Dead-style farmhouse, complete with its own Alien homage and swarming surely inspired by The Birds. Seeing as how Mosquito is directed by a makeup effects veteran, it follows that the effects here can be (literally!) eye-popping, and nearly every last one of 'em were either tackled in-camera or with an old-school optical printer. Some of the work here is dodgy and then some:

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...but that's all part of the fun, furthering that sense of watching an updated version of a '50s giant creature feature. Anyway, those clunkier shots are few and far between. Whenever the skeeters are directly squaring off against our heroes, they pretty much always look phenomenal, and there's just something tactile and there about them that would've been lost if those mosquitoes had been CGI or whatever. The scale of Mosquito's effects work eclipses whatever you would normally have expected from a movie with this shoestring a budget, and some ambitious and really slick camerawork elevate it to another level too. On the other hand, the photography and editing of more traditional fight scenes can be kind of dreadful -- including the clumsiest knee to the groin ever captured on film -- but that really only gets in the way a couple of times.

Mosquito is pretty much perfectly cast: Tim Lovelace as the dashing hero type, too-cute-for-words Rachel Loiselle unleashing her inner Ripley, Steve Dixon as a scientist who looks like he could land a punch if he had to, Gunnar Hansen as the self-serving sonuvabitch who could make the difference between the group surviving and being skeeter chow, and proto-punk legend Ron Asheton stealing every last scene he's in as the comic relief of the bunch. Likeable, earnest, and clearly having the time of their lives, they all perfectly nail that feeling of flipping over to the UHF dial and watching The Black Scorpion at midnight. ...and even though Mosquito does keep its tongue planted pretty firmly in cheek, its standout setpieces really do generate a good bit of tension and suspense.

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I hadn't seen Mosquito since my college days back when it was in heavy rotation on USA, but I think I love it even more now than I did then, and that's saying something. It's fast, it's frenetic, it's funny, and it's got a gigantic rubber mosquito stabbing through some chick's exposed buttcheek. In other words: the perfect movie. Highly Recommended.


Video
Oversampled at 3K from director Gary Jones' personal 35mm internegative, Mosquito looks terrific in high-def. Its colors are dead-on, and the level of clarity and detail on display throughout this mostly 16mm production frequently stand shoulder to shoulder with Blu-ray releases of much more lavishly budgeted genre flicks. There is some sporadic softness as well as a number of shots that aren't entirely in focus, but I continually found myself impressed by how well-defined and richly detailed this presentation is. The screenshots scattered throughout this review really don't do this Blu-ray disc justice, and it's every bit as outstanding as you'd expect from a Synapse Films release.

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Mosquito buzzes onto a dual-layer Blu-ray disc at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.


Audio
Mosquito boasts two newly-restored, 24-bit lossless soundtracks: one in the film's original stereo and another remixed to 7.1. While I'm a couple speakers shy of being able to take full advantage of this eight-channel DTS-HD Master Audio track, what I did hear blew me away. I found myself immediately impressed by the strong stereo separation up front and the immersive surrounds attacking from the rear, and bass response is more substantial than I ever would've guessed. The fidelity of the keyboard-driven score and sound effects is first-rate, even if some of the punches during its fight sequences sound a little cartoonish. Mosquito's dialogue is a touch more uneven in quality, but that's more a factor of the production and the elements available than anything else. An enclosed insert details the herculean effort that went into the audio on this Blu-ray disc, and all that time, care, and consideration really paid off.

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Along with the 2.0 and 7.1 soundtracks, Mosquito also offers up an audio commentary as well as subtitles in English (SDH), Spanish, French, and German.


Extras
  • Bugging Out! The Making of Mosquito (76 min.; HD): Oh, wow! I had no idea I was getting a double feature as part of the deal. This feature-length retrospective by Red Shirt Pictures showcases interviews with co-writer/director Gary Jones, co-writer/cinematographer Tom Chaney, producer David Thiry, investor Lee Jacobson, and actors Josh Becker, Tim Lovelace, Rachel Loiselle, Margaret Gomoll, Gunnar Hansen, and Mike Hard. Bugging Out! is a proper documentary, with a craftsmanship that sets itself far apart from so many other DVD and Blu-ray extras. Red Shirt always brings out the best in the folks they interview, and that's certainly true for Bugging Out!, which is wall-to-wall gold: the struggles between Becker and his pecker during an all-nude sex scene, Lovelace chomping on chewing tobacco right before planting a kiss on Loiselle, Hansen's pants falling off during a climactic shot, a mishap with the chain snapping off Earl's 'saw and wrapping around a crew member's leg (!), Loiselle nearly getting decapitated herself, and generally one tremendous story after another about what an amazing person Ron Asheton was. Bugging Out! tackles everything that went into Mosquito, from the earliest germs of its concept all the way to landing a deal with the soon-to-be-bankrupt Hemdale Film Corporation. Along with the interviews, Jones and friends also revisit some of the most memorable locations from their Mosquito days, including their old workshop (twenty years later, still littered with scraps of film and notes on a whiteboard!), Tompkins Bridge, and the farmhouse where Chaney's parents still live to this day.

    All of the extras on this special edition are essential viewing, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you skip past any of them. Still, as fantastic as the other extras are, Bugging Out! is the most extraordinary of the lot, and anyone buying or renting this Blu-ray disc desperately needs to give it a look.

  • Audio Commentary: Mosquito's newly-recorded audio commentary features director/co-writer Gary Jones, co-producer David Thiry, and co-writer/cinematographer Tom Chaney, and it's every bit as fast and fun as the movie itself. Among the many, many highlights are the parade of different titles that Mosquito went through, a couple of sequences that they didn't have the resources to film, the unique approach to editing the storm drain chase, Gunner Hansen actually carving through a door with a chainsaw, how some of the sets were repurposed for Matt Jaissle's Legion of the Night, and why you should never use red letters in your end credits. Love it, love it, love it.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (7 min.; SD): Gary Jones also offers optional commentary for this reel, which includes additional backstory for Earl and his gang, Hendricks squabbling with Josh Becker of Thou Shalt Not Kill Except... fame, and a lengthier ending dating back to when they thought Mosquito was running short. Jones touches on why these scenes were removed -- pacing, mostly -- and touches on how you'll never live down cutting your son out of your own movie.
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  • Behind the Scenes (40 min.; SD): Jones again offers optional commentary over this forty minute collection of behind-the-scenes footage: a stroll through the effects shop, rehearsing and working out blocking during pre-production, an early table read, screening 16mm dailies, a tour through Mosquito's sets, a peek at the skeeter mechanics being tested out, and -- of course! -- oodles of footage from production. Between Jones' commentary and the imagery on-screen, we learn about Mosquito's homebrew dolly rigs, explosive miniature work, fight choreography, shooting video alongside film so that they wouldn't have to wait for dailies, the variable frame rate of the oversized bloodsuckers, and how the exploding skeeters would be filled with the leftovers from that day's lunch. This is a wonderful collection of footage heightened even further by Jones' commentary, as he points out that that's his car plowing into the first mosquito, snickering at Ron Asheton forgetting which leg is supposed to have a limp to it, and how a head-popping effect was more cartoonish than he was aiming for. Well worth setting aside the time to watch.

  • Still Gallery (HD): Mosquito's high-res still gallery piles on right at fifty images: production and promotional stills, some behind the scenes shots, and a handful of candid photos.

  • Trailer (3 min.; SD): Last up is a standard-def trailer.

Mosquito is coded for play in all regions, and the reversible cover art looks phenomenal no matter which side you choose.


The Final Word
Damned straight.

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Maybe I should've copied/pasted that again so I could've had two thumbs up. Anyway, you already know that Mosquito comes Highly Recommended.
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