Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ticks / Infected

Tonight's movie is Ticks (or Infected as imdb claims, my box said Ticks, as did the trailer and titlecard for the film), a 1993 knockoff of Arachnophobia done by the same guy that directed Hellraiser 2: Hellbound. The film has a lot of nostalgia value for me. Not because I watched it more than once as a kid, but because my VHS copy of Highlander had a trailer of it at the beginning. Sometimes I miss the VHS era just for the movie trailers at the beginning, I never thought I'd say that. I think I watched the film maybe once as a kid, and again when I was maybe 13 and had just gotten a VHS copy off eBay, but it's been a long time and I can't recall much beyond what the trailer attached to Highlander showed.

After an opening credits montage of some warehouse, barn, and garden, we're treated to 15 year old Seth Green. His dad abandons him in the middle of the city for some reason, maybe because he looks like redheaded Harry Potter. He starts freaking out, and flashing back to when he was a little kid overdubbed by a little girl lost in the woods. Just then, Carlton fucking Banks shows up and challenges him to basketball, and threatens to kill him. You can't make this shit up, people. This movie starts off with Carlton Banks threatening Seth Green.

A van full of teenagers drivers up, driven by some woman and a guy whose name is not Charles Manson but Charles Danson (I rewound it to be sure.) They're going to be "commuting to the woods" or something. I guess this is kind of like summer camp then? Turns out Carlton Banks isn't some street rough, but is also part of the group. I'm thankful, because if I was going to be forced to find Carlton Banks threatening for an hour and a half, this was going to get awkward. Not to bash Carlton, I fucking loved Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and I like that gameshow he has where people fail at blackjack.

Elsewhere, Clint Howard is struggling with electrical equipment, also there's a weird sac thing below that equipment. But never mind that, as the focus just as quickly goes back to the van full of youths as they get a flat tire. Carlton's dog as a tick, and this gives us some foreshadowing, and gives Carlton more excuse to pretend to be a badass. They head over to some quick stop where we get to see a couple of super creepy hicks that totally aren't being set up as future deserving victims, and a poster detailing how "Marihuana" is the "assassin of youth." I feel like in most horror films we'd be getting to know the kids at this point, but no.

Clint Howard's back to work setting up bear traps and listening to some radio thing from the 1950s detailing the evils of marijuana and dams... okay, what's with all the pot references? As Clint's doing this, a gigantic tick that looks like a retarded mix of crab and facehugger comes out and kills his hamster. He tries to follow it, but it scares him into stepping into his own baretrap, crippling him so that tick eggs can fall from the ceiling onto him. Oh Clint, do you ever survive horror movies? I think you survived Ice Cream Man, but you were the villain there... man I should rewatch that soon.

The guy running the group talks to himself about the kids and we get a feel for who they are. We've got a spoiled rich bitch, her muscly boyfriend, a cute quiet shy girl, Carlton Banks as a super aggressive type for some reason, Seth Green, and a blond girl who gets one of the tick eggs, which looks like a green metroid, on her back. She gives a really shitty performance as she begs him to pull it off, he pokes it with a stick until it runs off, then they run back to camp and Seth Green literally says this: "We just saw a big bug, can we go home?" If I just had to pull a fist sized parasite off someone's bank, I think I'd say something better.

The two creepy guys stop by and warn the group that out of work people in the area have been growing marijuana, and to beware them. Now seriously, what is with the whole pot thing in this movie? Back in the barn warehouse garden thing, Clint Howard's got ticks under his skin, and starts shooting himself in the leg repeatedly to stop them, but nobody seems to think much of the gunshots even though everyone in the film can hear them. The kids are busy starting a gigantic campfire, which they get yelled at for. The two adults don't seem to do shit beyond screw, so I don't get the point of why they're all out there. I hope you're not a dog fan as, seconds later, the dog gets attacked by the same ticks. If you're the kind of person that can't see cats or dogs hurt in a horror film, you'll hate this scene. If you're the kind of person that can't bare to see Carlton Banks sad, you'll also not want to see this scene.

Saddest picture I've ever uploaded.

Carlton Banks runs away, and Charles Manson blames Seth Green for it. We also find out the blond girl is the guy's daughter, and even she dislikes him. I get why, this guy's a complete asshole that's dragged a bunch of teens out into the wilderness and then fails to keep an eye on them in a dangerous area. Anyway she yells at her dad, her dad apologizes to Seth Green, and they get in the van and drive around looking for Carlton. Seth goes on about how he's got some issues with abandonment, which we already knew from the opening of the film. They take the dog's body to the vet, and pull out a tick the size of a fucking tarantula, which is still alive. Cue scene of them dropping it, it scurrying around, and them trying to find it. It attacks Seth, but he tosses it off and the vet quickly squishes it to death with her heel. Thankfully, the tick mostly heals enough for them to examine it, and they find that stuff the marijuana farmers are using are mutating the ticks. ...yeah. Marijuana farmers are responsible for gigantic mutant killer ticks.

We cut back to Carlton who is still wandering around in the woods when a tick crawls up his pant leg and tears into his leg, leaving a very nasty wound that spews out a huge amount of blood. He's Carlton Banks though, so of course he kicks the tick's ass and survives his wounds. Meanwhile blond girl takes silent cute girl out fishing, cue bonding scene! We find out Kelly, the silent girl, actually can talk, and apparently had family issues. Whilst fishing they find the corpse of a cop in the lake, as well as an abandoned cop car that's been hidden beneath a bunch of junk. Obviously the ticks have grown smarter and are now covering their kills! ...or the pot farmers did it, who knows.

Rich girl fools around with her boyfriend, hides in a barn, and ends up seeing a bunch of the tick eggs, which are knockoffs of the eggs facehuggers come from in Alien. Not surprising, this film kinda knocks off Alien a lot. She also stumbles across Clint Howard, who apparently isn't dead yet, and begs her to kill him, which she doesn't do, and instead runs away. Elsewhere, Carlton Banks gets beaten by the two hicks, who surprise surprise are also pot farmers. Carlton gets in a knife fight with one of them before the other shoots both Carlton and some super flammable barrel that causes a huge forest fire. Carlton, instead of panicking, lays there bleeding out and pulls some food out of a plastic bag, which he then eats.

Just as everyone (besides Carlton who is presumably dead) get back home, the fire spreads to an insane degree, which causes all the tickets to head over to the house. The two evil hick/potfarmers also make it in, covered in ticks themselves. Why the fuck let them in? You guys are dumbasses. I'm not siding with any of you in a zombie rampage. Also Carlton banks is somehow still alive! You can't kill Carlton, apparently. Bite him, stab him, shoot him, beat him, set him on fire, he's still alive and dancing. We find out that he'd been eating the jock's steroids, and that apparently ticks explode when you st them on fire. Good to know. ...sadly, Carlton still ends up dying after this, damn. They notice the bulletwound though, and realize the two hicks are murderous potgrowing criminals, even though this was pretty obvious to begin with.

They shoot Charles in the back of the leg, strangle the jock kid, and punch his girlfriend in the face. These guys are some serious fucking psychopaths. They're less pot farmers and more Leatherface's long lost siblings. The dumber of the two, who I'll just call Chop-Top, goes out with a whip and a torch to bring the van around, because nothing scares ticks more than fire and Indiana Jones. He gets bitten by a tick though, and due to the hallucinogens in the pot mutated ticks, he sees the other criminal as a cop trying to shoot him, and so he plows the van into him and the home.

This lets in a bunch of ticks that cause some chaos, but don't actually kill anyone. The remaining evil guy tries to take one of the girls hostage so he can take the van out of there, but the jock stabs him in the chest. Meanwhile Carlton's body is so full of ticks that it begins dancing around, just like the old days Also it turns -him- into a giant tick, kinda. Like, a giant tick breaks through his body, for some reason. Maybe Carlton was always a tick? ...Does Tom Jones know? My god, does that make Uncle Phil a tick in disguise as well? Wasn't there some crappy comedy-horror about bugs posing as people? Anyway it kills the evil dude who seemed to be already dead from a knife to the heart, but got better just so he could be killed by a giant tick.

Seth Green decides that he's Buffy and can leap from a window like some super gymnast to get to the van and save the others... and partially succeeds. Why couldn't you have skills like that years later when you actually worked with Buffy? He kills a bunch of ticks with a broom he lights on fire, while the others try to hold back the gigantic Carlton tick. Everyone but the jock makes it to the van, forcing Seth Green to go back and save him using the firebroom, which makes the giant tick explode like a fucking bomb, spreading the fire to a huge propane tank which explodes and destroys the entire house as our remaining cast drive off to safety.

Back in the city, in an impound lot or something, a tick egg drops off their van. I guess maybe they were hoping for a sequel. Thankfully, there wasn't. I wouldn't really recommend this film at all. For starters, it's fairly difficult to find a copy, and even then the film is pretty fucking awful. The acting is pretty awful from most of the characters, even Seth Green gives a pretty shitty performance, but then again he was only like 15 or so, and this was pretty early in his career. This is nothing but a poor man's Arachnophobia. It's not scary, it's not that gory, just pass on it.

Edit: 7/27/2011
I guess I was so distracted by Seth Green, Carlton Banks, and Clint Howard that I didn't notice, and thus didn't mention, that the hot neighbor girl from Stepmonster played the rich hot girl in this.

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