Insecticidal (Review)


Meghan Heffern as Cami
Rhonda Dent as Josi
Samantha McLeod as Sophi
Shawn Bachynski as Martin
Vicky Huang as Fumi
Travis Watters as Mitch
Anna Amoroso as Jenni
Directed by Jeffery Scott Lando

The Horror Genre is blooming again in the movie industry, this time getting a massive infusion in the Low Budget Arena due to the profitability of producing cheap horror films for video rental outlets. This has lead to many terrible, terrible films, and a few good ones mixed in. The glut of horror has also produced films that try to stand out by mocking the genre, or introducing comedy in an effort to sidestep the standard celluloid (by celluloid I mean digital frames in the DVR Camera.) Thus, we get another send up of horror movies, specifically the giant bug horror movies. Insecticidal also grabs from several other traditional sources of horror, including sorority houses, nerdy girls, tons of nudity, and infested humans. Not ashamed dwell in it’s low-budget arena, Insecticidal has some fun. One of the subtle gags is all the girls in the sorority have their last name end in “I”. From Cami to Jessi to Fumi to even Belli (Belli?) it’s universal. Normally, I hate replacing Y’s with I’s, but in this case I’ll make an exception. Now, the low budget causes problems, noticeably the effects on the giant insects aren’t very good, and the bugs repeat the same animations over and over again. At times, it’s overly distracting. The actresses are largely unknowns (keeping with the low-budget theme) but many of them can’t keep their clothes on to save their lives, and many of them die horrible deaths as insect food. The acting varies, but there is a healthy mix of good and bad, and none so horrible that they ruin the film. The major thing to look for with low-budget films is whether or not you were entertained. If that is the case, all of the other flaws seem to be less important.

We start our tale as a girl in glasses and ponytail (this is movie code for her being a smart, nerdy girl who is unpopular, even if the girl is someone such as Rachael Leigh Cook, she’s unattractive and insulted once she dons the dreaded glasses and ponytail! It’s worse that being 600 pounds) is being menaced by a giant, dog-sized rhinoceros beetle. The movie then jumps back in time, to “Six Hours Earlier” where she is still being menaced in the same position! No, wait, that’s a lie, but would have been hilarious. Or a sign of incompetent filmmaking. Unattractive girl is Cami, who is not being menaced by any bug big or small. In fact, she studies the small ones, in her room in the basement of the Beta Upsilon Gamma sorority (get it, BUG?). The fact that Cami is not your normal sorority-type (or Sorostitutes as we called them in college) is explained due to her older sister being a member as well. We’ll get to her later, as currently the president of the sorority and overall nasty girl Josi is sexing up her man Mitch in her room, while a CGI scorpion (normal sized) crawls across the floor. Mitch looks like what Fabio would have been had he never modeled and instead became a burnt out construction worker with a gut. Josi (sans pussycats) is yanking on Mitch’s nipple rings due to his refusal to indulge her in her twisted sex games when she freaks out upon seeing the scorpion strolling along. Enraged that Cami let some CGI loose again, Josi starts screaming.

Cami is just getting back to her room, followed by her personal wiener-boy who wants to be more than friends but isn’t found attractive by Cami, due to his noodly-self being so pathetic. Cami is upset her thesis has been rejected, probably because most schools don’t require that until graduate-level studies. Also, because her topic, proving insects were the dominant species, is either wrong or already been done. Insects were the dominant land species until fish began to walk, they made it out of the sea quicker (have evolved from crustaceans) only to find themselves becoming a new food source (and getting a new food source once those fish started dying!) Insects were never gigantically gigantic, but were once larger due to the higher oxygen levels of the ancient Earth. Now, this next part will be boring, so skip ahead to the next paragraph if you don’t want a biology lesson. Insects breathe due to holes that let in air into tubes called tracheae, but they have no mechanism to spread the air to the cells throughout the body, relying on the cells near their breathing tracheae. They mainly work by diffusion, and this lack of ability to get oxygen to needed areas keeps their body size down. It is feasible to have big bugs, if they evolve some sort of pumping system as well, which basically would require an entire rewrite of the insect physiology. So to be more specific, it is NOT feasible to have big bugs, at least not on this planet (unless some bored mad scientist gets lucky.)

The lesson is over, so we can return to the movie. Wiener Boy (named Martin) also managed to lose the scorpion, who just happens to be genetically engineered (they are covering all bases here, as “genetically engineered” is the new “radiation” in movies as the catch-all cause of every disaster. Just ask Spiderman what kind of spider bit him! The scorpion is named Evander, and he drops down from the ceiling vent into his awaiting cage. That’s too late, though, as Josi bursts in with her bug spray cocked and ready to be fired. She performs the insect holocaust while Cami is prevented from acting by macho man Mitch who holds her back. Josi even blasts big bug Martin with some spray, but he’s a tough roach and won’t be killed so easily. After Josi leaves, Cami sadly throws away all the dead bugs, each of which had a name. Cami strikes me as the type of girl who as a child would name all her sea monkeys and ant farm ants, and hold elaborate funerals when they died. Instead of flushing the bugs, though, she just tosses them in the trash basket. As Cami and Martin aren’t paying attention, the camera cuts to the garbage can shaking. We then jump to the opening credits (so late?) which are some of the nicest done aspects of the film. We get neat insect schematics lifted from old textbooks and naturalists books with the credits mixed in.

From the moment of brilliance we jump back into the insect-laden mess. It’s a BUG party, as the sorority girls and beer are flowing like wildfire. The fact there are only like three guys total makes it just weird, but whatever. Sister Cherri gets food spilled all over her, so must go take a long shower to clean up. Outside, the party is being peeped on by a Pizza Delivery Guy who is hidden in a tree and is choking his own bug, if you catch my drift. He also spies on sister Fumi who is practicing her martial arts alone in her room. The Pizza Guy’s peeping fails to notice Cherri getting attacked in the shower by the now gigantic Evander the Scorpion. Evander’s CGI rendering is so bad, Cherri should have been able to destroy him by just blowing her breath on him. Evander instead chops her up with his tail. Some exposition by Cami tells us she was working on reactivating dormant genes to make the bugs bigger and smarter. Evil Josi is using Fumi to do all her homework, and treats Fumi like a just off the boat FOB, instead of the fully integrated girl she is, saying “exchange students” like her like to do homework.

Suspend your disbelief for the next segment, as the boyfriend of sorority sister Belli (Belli? They are running low on names to end in “I” now?) steps into the same shower that Cherri was ripped apart in. He fails to notice the chunks of Cherri left on the bottom of the tub, or the blood. He fails to care that the shower was still running, either. He also fails to notice Josi getting into the shower as well, on a mission to seduce Belli’s man. Josi also fails to notice the Cherri chunks, but at least we get to see Josi naked. It’s a role-play mission, as Josi continues the role-playing with her sex life, this time cribbing from Desperate Housewives.

Meanwhile, Josi’s boyfriend Mitch and another guy appropriately named Dick discuss the various Sorority Sisters, talking about women we haven’t met yet in some sort of introduction which is pretty useless except to give away the name of Cami’s sister, Sophi, who is also a lesbian. Outside, the Peeping Tom Pizza Guy is still peeping, but soon gets attacked by a looped animation of a praying mantis. He’s a little dead now. I hope you enjoy the praying mantis loop, it will be repeated in 95% of its appearances.

Cami yells at Martin when he gets stupid and tries to make a move on her, kicking him out. Cami does see glimpses of the giant scorpion and the mantis, and finds a piece of the giant mantis’s claw, realizing what it is, but has no proof. Her sister, Sophi, who is about as realistically her sister as I am the brother of Kofi Annan, comes to talk with her. Sophi is played by Samantha McLeod, who you might recall joining the Mile High Club in Snakes on a Plane, as well as joining the “Snakebit on the Boob” club. Her, she’s a lesbian and must have gone to the Misty Mundae school of acting, except she had far too much high school drama club to pull off the approachable vibe realistically. She tells Cami there is no giant bugs and Cami should get up to enjoy the party and get wasted! Yeah, forget that learning stuff; books are hard, party down! Cami puts up makeup on in some sort of scene that’s supposed to be dramatic, I guess.

Meanwhile, Belli (I guess) is about to have sex with her boyfriend again, and he gets ready to go down on her. They are set up in the basement, where some of the bugs have moved to. One bug laid some sort of slimy egg sacks on the ceiling, which drip goo down below, a maggot-like thing lands right on Belli’s Miss Kitty, which her man is now going to town with. The boyfriend doesn’t seem to taste a difference (Belli should bathe more, I guess) and the maggot sprays crap all over his face, while a second sprays crap all over her. The two now die.

Cami’s terrible makeup job allows Josi to give her an earful of bitchy nastiness. Cami storms off, and finds some insect goo, figuring out what it is, and sampling it with a towel. She puts the towel in an insect cage (???) and then sprays herself with a “biodisinfectant”, something everyone has in their bedroom. Cami’s makeup has also mysteriously disappeared by this point. Cami looks at the insect goo, and determines that it was full of insect bacterium. Something that doesn’t exist, but don’t tell Cami and her crazy insect-superiority theories. Josi is now starting to itch all over, and mutters curses at Mitch for giving her crabs, and then takes another shower (boobs again!)

Cami goes on a bug hunt while her sister Sophi makes out with her lesbian lover, fellow sorority sister Jenni. No lesbian sex scenes, sorry, guys. The trail leads downstairs, LOOK OUT, CAMI! Dangerous bad CGI is lurking in the shadows! Said CGI has no shading for the dark area it’s in, thus the insects have strange, spooky powers not even tapped into yet. That’s just the excuse I would give to keep from having to redo the bad effects. Outside, the last two in the hot tub are Dick and his girl Twisti (who’s parents must have gotten her name cheap off the Internet) are preparing for some hot tub sexing, but first Dick must go to the bathroom. Twisti shows him her breasts before he goes, trying to keep the audience interested. Josi is inside, her skin looking like she has bad burns and starts picking at her skin, and pukes up some maggots. Or maybe they are insect bacteria babies! Josi begins pigging out, and eats pure sugar and alcohol (that can’t be good for the insect babies inside her, they’ll be born stupid!)

Outside, Dick finds the empty car of the Peeping Tom Pizza Guy, and it’s full of generic pizza boxes with pizza inside. They have all the toppings: cheese, sausage, pepperoni, giant bugs, onions…. GIANT BUGS! Dick gets himself made into a brand new topping by those giant bugs. Twisti is attacked by the CGI mantis in the exact same animation loop as it’s previous attack, though she is the first character to actually scream when attacked by giant bugs, thus alerting the few survivors something is wrong. Twisti somehow isn’t dead (because she’s so twisty, see!) and makes it to the outside door of the house before the exact same CGI mantis loop attacks her again! Everyone in the house sees it, while Cami and Fumi remain calm, the two lesbians freak out. The girls call the police, who don’t believe them because the idiots claimed they were being attacked by giant bugs and not using a believable cover story. The bugs have created enough bug goo they have stuck the doors shut (very convenient bug goo, it seems) and Jenni freaks out even further when a second bug tries to attack them. Josi walks around like she’s in a daze, then lures Jenni into her room. Downstairs, Fumi kills the bug that tried to attack them by stabbing it. Josi gets more and more creepy, then tries to attack Jenni. Jenni ends up being stabbed by the giant scorpion and dies, Josi then chases Fumi, Cami, and Sophi around, locking them in the basement. Martin then arrives, with Josi trying to lure him inside, but he’s not fooled by her sudden niceness and gets suspicious.

The girls break out from the basement, and Cami manages to get Martin inside, avoiding Josi who is eating the leftover pieces of Twisti. Cami figures out the bugs won’t attack the impregnated with baby bugs Josi, so they decide to use her as a human shield (or a bug-infested human shield.) The giant bugs use their giant bug language to coordinate their attacks to try to keep the group trapped in the basement area. The bugs also use the strategy of having the CGI motioned blurred even when the bugs are stationary, thus confusing the girls more. Josi escapes the basement that the girls dragged her to, but loses and arm in the process. She hardly seems to notice. Josi realizes she can control the bugs, and orders them to attack the girls. Mitch returns to the sorority house to visit his girl Josi again, and breaks open the front doors despite the bug goo. This allows the insects inside to escape outside (but the giant mantis outside still can’t fit inside.) The rest of the girls grab some weapons, and then step out of the basement, but no bugs are waiting for them. Josi is tricking them, and opens the back door, and the bugs charge! Cami seems to be eaten, while Mitch vows revenge on the bugs. It’s not to be, as Cami is still alive, and once again the bugs leave, after Cami kills one of them.

Ignoring the fact the bugs are pretty useless in this film, the girls(I am including Mitch as one of the girls, because he is) decide to make some weapons out of items in the kitchen: blenders, knives taped together, water coated on the floor that will be shocked with electricity to fry anything in the water. Cami kisses Martin for luck, but the bugs won’t come attack them. Fumi goes to make more bait, but she’s barefoot on the water when she does the baiting. She has to jump into Martin’s arms, but for some reason he’s strong enough to hold her without crumbling into a broken wet sack of flesh (she’s not heavy, he’s just a pipe cleaner.) Two of the bugs are fried, the spider and the scorpion. The bugs EXPLODE all over the girls, a bukkake of bug guts. Martin won’t let Fumi go, in a disturbing bit of weirdness that makes Cami a tad annoyed and the audience feeling weird that he may be sexually harassing the girl Fumi. Fumi should just gut him. She doesn’t. A Rhino Beetle attacks, but Sophi chops it up with her blender weapon. That’s all the bugs, except the giant mantis and the infected Josi. Fumi prepares to spear (knife on a stick) the mantis outside, not fearing its repetitive CGI attacks. she should, as the mantis is now inside (and seemingly smaller—huh?) and is standing by the large American Flag the sorority girls have in their main room. The mantis slices Fumi up with his repetitive attack (BBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!) Cami stabs the mantis through it’s heart with the spear (knife on a stick), killing it.

JOSI ATTACK! Josi grabs Cami and tries to shove her into the hot tub, but Josi is tossed in instead by Sophi, while Martin throws in a bug zapper, which electrocutes Josi and her much used pussycat.

We end the film with one of the oddest endings, the heroes walk off into the sunrise down the block as the voiceover of Cami tells us bugs are survivalists and adapt to situations, while the group walks past a dude who’s walking pretty funny with a limp or something. So either he’s some infected neighbor, a bug in disguise, or just some guy who wandered down the block when they were filming and they had no money to reshoot. Whatever the case, I don’t really care. He’d be more interesting if he was rendered with the terrible CGI that the rest of the bugs are filled with.

The film itself is somewhat entertaining, and is packed with enough nudity to keep you interested. The few characters that make it to the third act are the only ones with any development, and some of them are cooler than others. Cami is an interesting choice as a heroine, as she is a little more nerdy than usual for these films, not fitting the Playboy model in glasses stereotype. She’s still attractive, but in a different sort of way, thus making her stand out. Martin is far too wienerish to be a normal leading man, but fits as her boyfriend choice. We’ll just ignore that she somehow shares genes with her lesbian sister (yeah, right.) Actress Rhonda Dent as Josi has fun with her role, and isn’t shy about prancing around in the buff. Plus, Vicky Huang as Fumi was the best character, too bad she had to die, maybe next time she can also be a lesbian and live to the end. Insecticidal seems like it would be a good response to many Sci-Fi Channel films, especially Caved In: Prehistoric Terror and the various giant scorpion films. I am unaware if this film was shown on Sci-Fi Channel, but that seems it’s natural home on television.

Rated 4/10 (Scorpion, Game Over, Man!, Pizza Guy, Credits Bug)

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