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  Nest, The Shockroaches
Year: 1988
Director: Terry H. Winkless
Stars: Robert Lansing, Lisa Langlois, Franc Luz, Terri Treas, Stephen Davies, Diana Bellamy, Jack Collins, Nancy Morgan, Jeff Winkless, Steve Tannen, Heidi Helmer, Karen A. Smythe
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is a quiet New England island community where nothing interesting ever happens, though they do seem to have a problem recently with pest infestations, specifically cockroaches. When the Sheriff Richard Tarbell (Franc Luz), who inherited his position from his late father, or so the villagers believe, wakes up this morning he receives a call from the station that there is a missing person case in progress, though more immediately he is more concerned about nearly drinking one of the insects in his cup of breakfast coffee. Tarbell is in a relationship with local diner owner Lillian (Nancy Morgan), but all that might change now that his old flame Elizabeth Johnson (Lisa Langlois) is back, visiting her father the mayor (Robert Lansing)...

The hangover from the revenge of nature movies of the nineteen-seventies, themselves inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, continues to this day, most obviously thanks to the massive success of Stephen Spielberg's Jaws, adapted from Peter Benchley's novel. So it was that other horror novels were mined for inspiration during their golden age of the seventies and eighties, a state of affairs which translated into the silver screen where if the shockers you were going to watch at the cinema had not been drawn from some lurid paperback then they certainly seemed that way, with icky special effects standing in for the overdescriptive passages of gruesomeness in the pages of the novels.

So hooray for The Nest, a film from the Roger Corman stable (he was responsible for the not dissimilar Piranha ten years before) that didn't make much of an impression at the time when countless of these chillers were released in the picture palaces and perhaps more importantly in the video stores every month, but now is able to command a huge amount of nostalgia for film buffs who caught these first time around, and for those newcomers who appreciate the eighties' way with the stylings of fear and disgust from yesteryear, in particular the age before computer graphics took over as a cheaper alternative to the rubbery and syrup effects of this decade. There were plenty of gooey yuck sequences here as the cockroaches exact their dominance over puny humans through sheer weight of numbers, as well as their newfound tendency to feast on flesh.

The thick airport novel this was based on was penned by Eli Cantor under a pseudonym, presumably not wishing to tarnish his other writings by association - no matter how popular horror was in the eighties, there was still a stigma about it and a suspicion about what this kind of escapism would do to the mind. This left director Terry H. Winkless and his efforts very much the book's equivalent, ony far leaner with a small cast ruthlessly pared down to the chosen few survivors for the climactic confrontation with the... ah, that would be telling, but once we are told the roaches have been genetically engineered by mad scientists looking to control the insects' spread - how's that working out for ya? - and witness the results bring about a bastard hybrid of mammal and insect, you can kind of see where this is going.

The catroach is undoubtedly a pointer, at any rate. Once we have the set up disposed with, a less than interesting relationship drama with a love triangle between Tarbell, Elizabeth and a cockroach - ah, not really, I mean Lillian, then the reconcilation between Elizabeth and her father who doesn't like Tarbell much, we can get to the good stuff which involves our hero trying to rescue the community of about ten people from the skittering menace (that's the noise they make en masse). Also included and offering the best performance was Terri Treas who played the scientist who created the critters and makes no secret of her admiration and pride, even getting off on the way they feast on her hand when she's experimenting to see if they can be stopped. Some get The Nest mixed up with the Spanish-made Slugs, which had the same sort of bleuch factor only if anything was even more ridiculous, but this production, from Julie Corman's work for Concorde, was actually nicely managed, not quite nudging the audience but with a sick glee in its machinations. Worth it for fans. Music by Rick Conrad.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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