42nd Street Cinema

The Nest (1988)

Hello, it's been a while hasn't it? A lot has changed in the time I've been absent from this blog; Prime Ministers, Presidents. A Global pandemic...but the one thing that hasn't changed, is my undying love for trashy films.

Truth be told, I've been entertaining the idea of restarting this blog for about a year now, but life gets in the way and I've never gotten around to it. I can't commit and call this a return. I guess it's a creative outlet and something productive for me to do while the world is on lockdown.
I also found it extremely hard to get back into writing and many times at the start of this piece I 'backspaced' until there was nothing more to 'backspace'. In any event, I hope it's an entertaining read.

I've been on a 'when animals attack' kick lately with The Food of the Gods (1976) and Empire of the Ants (1977) and in keeping with that vibe, I've decided to peel back the carpet and shine a light on Terence H. Winkless' goopy directorial debut, The Nest.

Starring: Robert Lansing, Lisa Langlois, Franc Luz and Terri Treas.

Based on the pulp horror novel of the same title by Eli Cantor/Gregory A. Douglas - I'm not sure which is a pen-name, if it makes any difference I do have another book by Gregory A. Douglas.
The story is a glorious little tale of science gone awry mixed-with out of control insects, set against the rural backdrop of a quaint, coastal slice of Americana.

Enter small town Sheriff Richard Tarbell (Luz). A sensitive kinda guy who's torn between his ongoing relationship with diner owner Lilian (Nancy Morgan) and the surprising return of his high school sweetheart Elizabeth Johnson (Langlois), daughter of the town mayor Elias (Lansing). He's making shady dealings with a scientific research company, INTEC, in an effort to inject cash into the town. Unbeknown to Elias, head scientist Dr. Hubbard (Treas) has been playing god with cockroaches. Her theory is that cockroaches will become immune to pesticides and repellents, in an effort to combat that, she has attempted to create a roach that will eat other roaches. Makes sense right? Right! It appears anyway that a batch has escaped, or were already out to begin with, maybe I missed/forgot that part...anyway they're soon running amok in the small town, devouring beloved pets and wholesome junkyard owners.

Arguably the most memorable character of the bunch is the local 'pest control agent', Homer (Stephen Davies). The film's comic relief character, even as I'm writing this I realise that I'm selling him a little short. Of all the characters I found myself caring about this guy the most, perhaps it's because he hasn't got any self interests; he helps people with pest problems, he turns up to drink and play boardgames with aforementioned junkyard owners, only to find them partially devoured in their bed. When the Sheriff needs him, he's there ready (but perhaps not exactly willing) to lay down his life to save the town. Truthfully, I think there's a lot to be taken away from the kookier characters in genre film. They're quickly overlooked, easily dismissed and/or laughed at, but are more often than not, the most genuinely human characters present.

The first third is spent establishing tone, the characters and providing a little bit of an insight into what INTEC are doing, whilst steadily increasing the roach-activity.
The second third serving as nexus point, with albeit more roach-activity, until the situation is thoroughly out of hand, and the town is about to be lost to a lethal dose of bug spray or a swarm of mutant roaches.

The gruesome climax is where the film comes to life. To me it ranks somewhere between a low budget riff on John Carpenter's The Thing (1984) and Cronenberg's The Fly (1986). I don't know if I'm going out on a limb (pun intended) to call this a body horror film but there are several fantastic scenes involving a cat-roach hybrid and human-roach hybrid. The effects, to be honest, are well handled. Looking nice and nasty, slimy and gooey in all the right places.

The only thing that's a bit irritating is the sound effect used whenever the roaches are present. It became extremely grating, I found myself lowering the volume considerably during a few scenes.
In all, I got a real kick out of it and with a runtime just shy of an hour and a half you'd be foolish to pass it up. I don't deal in half stars here at 42nd Street Cinema, so I'm gonna put my balls on the line and give it a full 4 stars with a gleaming recommendation.


Cinema Slayer said...

Glad you're back man... I know what you mean from the beginning of your review here with life getting in the way of being creative and keeping up with something like doing this. Reviewing movies (especially horror and cult films like we do) is different and I've even recently done some video reviews on Youtube that I think turned out pretty well. I would want to get back to actual written reviews, but once you've gone the way of video it's kind of hard to turn back. By the way, I've never seen The Nest, but your review makes me want to watch it now. Even though bugs gross me out.

Will Errickson said...

I still need to see this. The original novel is great! Douglas is the pen name; Eli Cantor is the author's real name (and I've heard he *loved* the movie!).

James said...

@Cinema Slayer - I haven't written anything film related in years. Occasionally though, I guess the time is right, or the film is right. I don't know if I'll ever come back to this as a 'regular thing' but who knows! I'm gonna check your channel out! I get what you mean with the step up to video reviews. Espcially vs. text reviews. You can literally show people scenes, sequences or effects that you want to highlight rather than trying to describe them. Thanks for the kind comment!

James said...

@Will Errickson - Thanks for commenting and clearing up the pen name issue. I've not read the book myself yet.

P.S. Big fan of the Paperbacks From Hell book over here!

Eva Wilson said...

Fantastic movie, I really enjoyed it.

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