The mighty Scream Factory’s final part of their February terror trifecta is 1988s killer cockroach creature feature, The Nest. Now this one was a rarity for me; a ’80s fright flick that I have never seen before. So when I got this in for review I ravenously tore into it. Did I enjoy this creepy crawly movie of mutant menace, or did it just bug me? Well turn on the lights, grab your can of raid, and make sure you check your bed before going to sleep this night; it’s time for The Nest.
It’s basically Jaws on land, but with teeny, tiny teeth. Thousands, if not millions of them. Yeah it’s another nature on a rampage flick, but one aided by SCIENCE! And it’s because of that added element that this movie takes a sudden and unexpected turn towards the end, and is made so much the better for doing so. But I’m getting ahead of myself. So let’s start at the beginning with a small New England fishing community named Northpoint being terrorized by a strange new species of cockroach. A new breed with an insatiable hunger for meat of any kind, and they’re not afraid to go after it en masse. After some animals and even some people get munched down to the bone, the local sheriff calls in a bug expert; a somewhat crazy lady scientist who seems to like her roaches a bit too much. Add a disbelieving mayor who might as well be shouting “we ain’t closing the beaches” and you have the classic (cliché?) trio for this kind of movie. But what saves this film from being a complete carbon copy of every other “when animals attack” flick ever made is the gore and the crazy.
While it does take some time for the action to really kick in, when the hungry bugs do show up, it’s almost always a bloody treat for the gorehounds. With kills that would make Jason Voorhees proud, the roaches are very messy eaters. Oh and they poop all over everything. No that’s not gory, that’s just gross. So if you’re offended by the red stuff, then this movie might really bug you (ok, I’ll stop that now), but if you can appreciate a nice bit of splatter, then The Nest will be a satisfying surprise.
As for the crazy, well first a brief SPOILER ALERT! Really, I knew next to nothing about this movie when I started watching it, so when this bit happened it was an honest to god WTF moment and I love those. So if you want to have that same feeling for yourself, skip the rest of this paragraph. Still here? Ok, these little roaches are a science experiment gone wrong. Just like in the movie Mimic (which would come out nine years later) these bugs were bred to kill other bugs. To be tiny exterminators, as it were. Well naturally Mother Nature doesn’t like to be messed with, so the genetic tampering has an unexpected side effect: the roaches mutate so not only do they become immune to pesticides, but they begin to take on aspects of those they eat. This is first made evident with an awesomely goopy-slash-goofy cockroach-cat hybrid that has a hilarious throw down akin to the bad kitty scene from Re-animator. Naturally the super roaches don’t just stick to mimicking cats, but I’ll leave the rest of that for you to discover.
In addition to the blood and the unexpected turn, this movie has pretty decent acting, even if at times it dips into B-movie territory. The direction is capable, if not exceptional. Perhaps my biggest gripe is the pacing, there can be long stretches in between cockroach attracts at the start, and this movie tries to fill that time with character development and progressing the overall plot. It succeeds for the most part, but it still feels a bit draggy at times. Also, there is some unintentionally hilarity here and there, like the aforementioned crazy lady scientist who seems to get off on the roaches eating the flesh of her hand. That … uhm, character trait? Subplot? Whatever, is dropped right afterward, so its inclusion here I found nothing but odd and confusing. But less I forget, this is a gore movie about mutating, man-eating bugs, so a bit of silly and weird is par for the course, I guess.
This new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack has a great looking transfer, but none of the physical extras we’ve come to expect from Scream Factory. As for the on-disc goodies, they’re pretty lean. There’s an audio commentary track with the movie’s director and that’s all. I guess a killer cockroach movie from the ’80s is lucky to get enough love for a Blu-ray release and a commentary track, so I shouldn’t complain too loudly.
The Nest is a fun and bloody monster movie that has that classic 1980s film feel that I am such a sucker for. If cockroaches really bu … er … frighten you, if you thought the final short in Creepshow was the creepiest of the lot, then this is the movie for you. If you want to make sure your library of killer fish, bears, birds, snakes, spiders, bees, etc. is complete, then you can’t skip The Nest. Consider this one recommended.