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Infested: Invasion of the Killer Bugs

DVD

1/2

Written / Directed

Josh Logan

Zach Galligan .... Warren

Lisa Ann Hadley .... Ellen

Daniel Jenkins .... Steven

Amy Jo Johnson .... Jesse

Nahanni Johnstone .... Mindy

Robert Duncan McNeill .... Eric

Jack Mulcahy .... Bob

David Packer .... Elliot

Camilla Overbye Roos .... Robin

Tuc Watkins .... Carl

Mark Margolis .... Father Morning

R

84 mins

Most
video fans are aware that the stuff released straight to video is
usually sub-par. Production budgets are low, scripts are second-rate,
acting is more wooden than a lumberyard... you know the story.

Infested
raises the bar for sheer awful by being a straight to video release
from a MAJOR STUDIO. That's right, this particular piece of awful is
brought to you by the, and I hesitate to say good, people at Columbia
Tristar.

We start this cinematic train wreck with a funeral.
Great place to start, that. We also get a little high school reunion in
the making, as the deceased's, a fellow named Steven, friends have some
conversations amongst themselves. And these people are really deep,
too. There's an actor, and several businessmen, and assorted wives, all
talking about themselves. If these people were any more shallow they'd
be grasslands.

Next, we get graveside services delivered by a priest so new-age he makes Shirley MacClain look like Cotton Mather.

Then
the shallow ones begin questioning themselves, wondering if they've
sold out their youthful ideals for the sake of profit. But this doesn't
last any too long before they engage in discussion that brings things
right back up to the level of shallowness that we've come to expect
from this group of truly pointless yuppies for lack of a better word.
Yoga, feng shui, and the CIA dealing crack. This is the body of their
discussion. And then someone fires up the music of their youth on the
ORIGINAL VINYL no less and that takes care of the next five, ten
minutes.

Am I alone in thinking most people will be glad to see
the bugs come and eat these people just so we can get some debris out
of the gene pool?

And then, finally, the bugs make their
first appearance, biting one character's neck. I know, innocent enough,
and the bug is smashed on contact, but then the bite victim throws the
corpse on the ground.

And it bursts into flame.

How many
bugs you ever see burst into flame when smashed? You can tell, these
particular little pests are pests of a different breed.

Not only do these pests leave behind incendiary corpses, they also have--get this--MIND CONTROL POWERS.

The
joke is, I'm not kidding. These bugs actually get into live human
beings, usually via the mouth, and take over their minds. They don't
seem to care when their host bodies' necks are broken, either.

In
a surprise move, the script switches gears rapidly and delightfully
CLEANLY from shallow yuppie party to harrowing survival horror. I have
a soft spot for survival horror, and Infested sets it up well. The
mind-controlled corpses disable the cars outside, leaving our remaining
shallow yuppies with a serious problem--how to survive without being
killed and / or taken over by swarms of bugs?

A critical
advantage appears mere moments later as a swarm of bugs attacks one of
the last living houseguests. As they fly headlong into a shaft of
sunlight, they all burst into tiny fireballs.

Seems our bugs
have a serious light allergy, meaning when nightfall hits, there's
going to be a serious problem. Which means our surviving yuppies have
to move, and quick. A party of yuppie survivors, armed with homemade
torches, goes forth to do battle and recover the cell phone from one of
the disabled cars.

The action continues until just two of our
yuppie survivors are left alive and untouched by the bugs. And, much to
everyone's surprise, the bugs are vulnerable to Raid.

And eighties music. Apparently, those strange, soulful beats confuse the bugs like no tomorrow and render them inoperative.

Everybody with me so far? To recap, our devilbugs can be killed by the following:

1. Light

2. Raid

3. Smashing Them

4. Eighties Music

What's next? Pine needles? Pina colada mix? Certain kinds of yeast? How many weaknesses can these bugs HAVE?

For a movie that showed such promise as a survival horror movie not a half hour ago, it's definitely fallen apart.

And
then, in the last great reason why this movie is truly, truly awful,
Steven comes back from the dead, looking good as new. He's complaining
about his friends and their shallowness, which is what most of US have
been complaining about since the start of the movie. He also doesn't
trust the government with these superbugs, and thus, he let them loose
on the world.

The ending will be roughly what you expect.

There
isn't much in the way of special features on the DVD--only a trailer
gallery for "Infested", "Anaconda," which was actually released back in
the depths of 1997, and the Columbia "Creature Features" line of horror
titles. Look for also a dearth of subtitles. They actually included
subtitles for seven languages, including Chinese and Thai.

Now
here's where things get weird. Two characters might be recognizable to
horror / sci-fi buffs out there. Zach Galligan, whom you will remember
as Billy Peltzer from Gremlins, plays Warren. Better still,
quasi-legendary sellout Amy Jo Johnson from the ORIGINAL Power Rangers
cast (Kimberly the Pink Ranger) plays Steven's recently-bereaved
girlfriend Jessie.

All in all, this will sum up exactly what I thought of Infested:

Billy
Peltzer did not deserve this indignity. He does not deserve to be part
of a movie that can't make up its mind about what moral it wants to
project. He does not deserve to be part of a movie that starts slow,
suddenly picks up speed, then decides it's actually getting GOOD so it
had better introduce some hackneyed plot devices to tone things down a
bit. He does not deserve to be part of a movie with a script that can't
quite tell if it's a horror movie or Return to the Breakfast Club.

Kimmy the Pink Ranger, however, DOES.



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