Set in a small New England town reminiscent of Mayberry, the entire police department seemingly consists of three people, everyone knows everyone, and everyone eats at the same hole-in-the-wall diner. It’s a quiet, uneventful place where nothing important ever seems to happen – and by nothing important I mean a wave of killer cockroaches invades and attacks everyone.
This little gem was almost overlooked due to the generic name and plot description, however I decided to give it a chance because of the giant freaking cockroach on the cover. Personally, I have somewhat of a phobia of these things – well, most bugs – and the thought of giant cockroaches invading piqued my interest. Mainly because I wanted to see how 80’s special effects would do them justice, and partially because I like to push the limits of what I can withstand with things that creep me out personally. This did not disappoint on either level.
Right from the start we see several of these things, (real cockroaches, not CGI that would be used today), crawling out of a guy’s toilet, across the floor, and even sitting in his coffee! This was enough to make me cringe, but they take it a step further and have the guy drink the coffee before immediately spitting it out, after which we see the roach scurry across the floor! If you’re still with me, hang on, because this ride isn’t going to get any easier from here on out. Seriously, if you can’t handle bugs then you shouldn’t watch this movie.
I don’t want to spoil the entire film, but I will say the special effects for this are spectacular. Maybe I’m just jaded since horror movies nowadays have used CGI so much that it’s refreshing to see a movie used hand-made props for monsters, and actual bugs instead of computer generated ones. These roaches are genetically modified by scientists in an effort to try and wipe out cockroaches by attempting to program them to kill each other. Instead, the roaches decide to kill any person in which they come in contact. But the chaos doesn’t stop there, as these roaches eventually transform into whatever creature they have eaten – man or animal.
That’s right, this movie quickly goes from bug invasion movie to monster/zombie movie without missing a beat. First, the roaches transform into a cat they have eaten, but it’s not a normal cat – it’s a cat-roach. This of course leads to man-roaches, which is displayed by a man shedding his skin (eyes first) to reveal a man-skeleton-roach thing that looks just amazing. Saving the best for last, the queen roach residing in the cave in which the experiments began, apparently had eaten the entire scientific team, thusly transforming into all of them inside one body. You’ll have to see it for yourself because it does not disappoint.
This movie is the perfect execution of horror exploiting people’s fear of bugs. I cringed, winced, and checked under my covers before going to sleep. This did to me what the Jaws movie did to society’s fear of swimming in the ocean. The acting was great, the special effects were both special and effective, the writing was well researched, and I think it is a diamond in the rough that everyone should see at least once. It’s perfect for a Friday night horror movie or a movie just to watch with friends.