Shout! Factory // 1988 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 8th, 2013
Roaches have never tasted flesh...until now.
Killer cockroaches. Oh yes.
In a cozy New England hamlet, residents are succumbing to horrifying deaths leaving sheriff Richard Tarbell (Franc Luz) is perplexed. These poor stiffs are literally getting devoured, but he has no clue what creature is responsible. And why would he? Because the perpetrators are pretty much the last beast you would expect -- roaches! So many roaches, all of which have been genetically modified by some whacko scientist to consume its brethren in a dopey scheme to rid the world of its persistent roach infestation.
Needless to say, these bugs more interested in chowing down on bigger chunks of meat. To make matters worse, this genetic manipulation is leading to runaway mutations, turning the roaches into more monstrous lifeforms, which, if left unattended, will propagate in their subterranean nest and lead to an entire region of New England overrun by babbling, drooling drones. So, you know, Vermont.
I enjoyed The Nest as much as I thought I would. Looking at the cover art with the giant roach bear-hugging a scantily-clad female, I immediately prepared myself for a dated, moronic cornball feature that would deliver bountiful, derisive laughter at its own expense. Nope. The Nest is actually bodacious late '80s horror, filthy with shoulder pads and practical gore effects, but not a victim at all of the classic so-bad-it's-good-syndrome.
It's actually sort of a miracle that The Nest sidestepped this fate. On the surface, you don't find stuff more ridiculous than "killer mutant cockroaches," and yet director Terence Winkless and his team managed to generate an atmosphere that was simultaneously not tongue-in-cheek and straight-laced enough to compensate for its inherently dumb premise.
Oh, it's dumb alright. This top-secret killer-roach idea strikes me both as a really bad idea and, frankly, an overreaction to the roach problem. Is it really worth the risk to have waves of flesh-eating cockroaches released into the general populace to potentially eat Dachshunds and toddlers to save a handful of New York restaurateurs from getting berated by Gordon Ramsey?
Well, I for one am happy there were investors shortsighted enough to pony up the cheddar for this kind of pointless genetic research. Because without them, how would you and I get to see some dope get chewed to pieces in a dumpster, a woman have her right arm lopped off and her head bisected, or the cockroach POV shot that is set like a foot off the ground?
By the time the end credits roll, I am confident Z-movie aficionados will come away satisfied with The Nest, if for no other reason than the glorious finale, where our heroes (and villain) traipse into the nest and square off against the main beast, a ludicrous amalgam of leftover prop pieces that don't quite fit together. It's a big fat mess of creature design, but it's all practically done and the violence is stellar. Low-budget sculch at its best!
Shout! Factory's Blu-ray won't win any year-end awards, but it is technically high-def so let's go with it. A solid 1.78:1 (MPEG-4 AVC-encoded, 1080p) transfer that looks like the source material was a late '80s economy horror film, a serviceable DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track, a director's commentary, and a standard def DVD copy.
Killer roaches, yo.
Not Guilty. Put the RAID down.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* DVD Copy