The Nest (1988)

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The Sheriff of the sleepy little island town of North Point gets caught up in a tale of bloody, icky insect murder and evil corporate cover-up when pets, and then the local populace, start disappearing following a bizarre string of increased insect activity. The poor guy is trying to deal with what he can, but the corrupt mayor, an ethically dubious scientist and his long-lost high school flame seem intent on making his life much more difficult than it needs to be.

thenest2Though, truth be told, the girl problems are completely his own doing.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way now… You see that scene depicted up there on the movie poster? Yeah, it doesn’t happen. There is no woman wandering around in her underwear and there are no giant cockroaches. You have no idea how bummed I was about that. Not by the lack of scantily clad woman, but by the lack of giant bugs. I sat there the whole time waiting for one and all I got instead was an affront to human nature. It was an amazing afront, to be sure, but I was still upset by the lack of giant bugs I had seemingly been promised.

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For those of you wondering about the other lie, this is as close to titillation as the film gets. If I have to be disappointed then so do you.

Now that that’s out of the way…

If the plot of The Nest sounds familiar, that’s because the first two-thirds of the movie is basically Jaws. Except in this case you’re dealing with a horde of flesh eating cockroaches instead of a single man eating shark. It’s the tried-and-true horror formula of Everyday Man vs. Greedy Corporate Assholes. And The Nest doesn’t really try to do anything different with that formula either, so it’s pretty predictable aside from an occasional bloody, buggie death or a scene of creepy crawlies that gets thrown in to break up the monotony.

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Fuck that shit. I’d rather deal with the shark.

For the first half of the movie, The Nest follows the familiar monster movie practice of not actually showing the viewer the menace, replacing shots of any kind of first-hand visuals with low-angled point-of-view shots as the camera is dragged through the bushes. This is the part where the movie pretty much relies on the viewers squeamishness regarding insects as a way to build cheap tension.

Thankfully about halfway through the actual creepy crawlies come out to play and we’re graced with swarms of bugs crawling all over the place as they slowly, and then quite quickly, devour every human being in sight. Although they only seem to eat the fringe characters quickly. When it comes to the main characters they seem a bit more discerning.

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I’ll let you guess which type of character this is.

Speaking of characters, the side characters are completely forgettable, but most of the main cast are all perfectly serviceable. Though don’t expect any uniqueness here either, since there isn’t anyone here that doesn’t usually show up in these types of monster films. Of course there’s the beleaguered sheriff who just wants to know what the hell is going on, the doe-eyed love interest, the semi-corrupt mayor who swears he was just trying to help the town, the local eccentric ‘scientist’ who’s surprisingly prepared to deal with this random crisis (and he doubles as comic relief *shock!*), and of course there’s the morally bankrupt scientist from the sinister corporation that caused the whole catastrophe in the first place. For those of you at home playing Monster Movie Bingo, I’m sure you’ll have a winner by the 30-minute mark.

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A ‘Creepy Person Who Knows More They They’re Letting On’? Sweet, got the center square!

If the first two-thirds of The Nest was basically what would happen if you crossed Jaws with bugs, than the last third is what you would get if Jaws and Mimic had a three-way with The Thing. Cause it turns out that Creepy Scientist Lady didn’t just make a bunch of regular genetically mutated super cockroaches. Oh no. That’d be too easy. No, these are genetically mutated super cockroaches that have also unexpectedly developed the bizarre ability to become hybrids of whatever the hell they happen to eat. Yes, this means that in the last 20-minutes the film jumps the shark (heh, heh, he-..I’ll see myself out…) and graces our undeserving asses with the likes of Cat-roach, Skevy Mayor-roach and the ghastly Queen-roach (roaches don’t actually have queens, but never mind, movie), which is really something that must be seen to be believed.

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This may be one of the greatest, most disturbing abominations of mankind that I have ever seen. Bless you, film.

So, is The Nest any good? Well, I’d never call it a masterpiece. It’s got a cookie-cutter cast and a familiar plot that was overdone even back in 1988. It does, however, also have a nicely done remaster and a plethora of impressive makeup and gore effects that even I wasn’t expecting at the end there. I’d wager a guess that the Queen puppet alone is probably enough to qualify it for at least a viewing for horror fans. And though it may not be particularly scary (in some cases it’s intentionally hilarious), the fact that the plot revolves around (live) cockroaches does mean that the films squirm factor is reasonably high. If you miss the days of practical effects, than feel free to give The Nest a go. Just don’t go in expecting any giant bugs. I’m still bitter.

The Nest is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

It’s also received a nice Blu-ray from our friends at Shout! (Scream!) Factory. Which means you can watch all those icky, squicky bugs in HI-DEF. Praise be.

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