Thursday, November 16, 2006


LET ME TELL YOU, LADIES, ladies, of a very special science experiment gone awry. This is the GOOD, OLD-FASHIONED KIND, not produced in an expensive government lab to advance the Cold War or cure a nasty disease. This one was cooked up in the Corn Belt to make some meat entrepreneur buckets and buckets of EASY MONEY. The result: HORROR! This was directed by Tim Cox, who must be very proud of what he's done. Starring William Forsythe, Rachel Hunter, Vincent Ventresca and a cast of FLYING LIVER FLUKES!

PLOT SUMMARY: A vegetarian veterinarian (say that three times fast), who’s already lost his license to practice in 2 states because of his alarmist tendencies, arrives in the bucolic Missouri town of Host (heh) to begin a new practice. He is immediately called out to a farm to look at a dead cow. A quick arm up the keester, a glance at a handful of manure, and he KNOWS he's in the presence of something that is NOT QUITE RIGHT. The sides of the dead cow are bellowsing up and down as if the damned thing were still hyperventilating, for one thing. The lab test results are pretty daunting. It looks like a liver fluke...but doesn't ACT like one.

We understand the problem immediately when the farmer explains that every cattle rancher in the area gets special free feed from a local company called Host Tender Meats, on the condition that they sell all the beef back to the company. Before many more scenes have passed, the firm throws a big picnic for all the ranchers and employees to announce the success of their experimental feed...AND EVERYONE IS EATING "HOST" HAMBURGERS. Can the vet get anyone to believe him about this terrible threat? Will the amoral, money-hungry owner of Host Tender Meats get his comeuppance? Will anyone survive??


>> OK, on the surface this sounds like every embiggened-critters epic of the past few…centuries. But in a lot of ways it’s better than average. And MUCH more piscatorial.

>> You cannot miss the fact that the menace is essentially aquatic. First it's roiling around in the liquid-filled arteries and guts of unlucky cows. Then it branches out into the human GI tract, and finally it takes over the town's sewer system. A man playing Frisbee with his kids, early in the film, is waylaid by the killer Flukes as he chases the toy into a drainage pond. There is a fantastic action sequence that takes the viewer INSIDE THE VIEWPOINT OF THE SWIMMING FLUKES, briskly dog-paddling up to the unsuspecting human and plunging inside him. This man spends the rest of the movie in a coma in the hospital, the baffled doctors imagining that he's had a heart attack. Tsk! If someone had shoved an arm up his keester and taken a look at the poo, they would have INSTANTLY KNOWN ALL.

>> The budget isn’t QUITE as low as usual, although it couldn’t have cost much to make. The scriptwriters, cast and crew made a real effort to take the subject as seriously as you can possibly take giant liver flukes with bat wings. This factor alone is certain to make Larva a favorite in my home film library.

>> The movie combines the finest moments of Alien, Island Of Terror, Godzilla 1985, and a mere whiff of Starship Troopers . You have to like that. Every single story raves to the viewer about the beauties of the human race being infested, then ingested, by beings utterly alien to them. WHO DO YOU THINK THIS STUFF IS REALLY ABOUT, THE EASTER BUNNY!?

>> There’s no resorting to elaborate scientific solutions in Larva. I, personally, find this refreshing. There is no need to get hold of 20,000 gallons of special mascara, or rev up the nuclear submarine that someone in town just happens to keep in the basement. “Shooting ‘em works just fine,” a farmer explains to the disgruntled sheriff.

>> On the downside of this "just shoot 'em" approach, we see several of the flapping menaces shot to death while wrapped around human victims. In every case the the human is right in the bullet’s path, and I hardly need to tell you that only the flukes get killed. The humans sprint away unharmed, without even getting Fluke blood on their shirts.

>> Never mind. In real life, humans are far from immune to bullets.

>> VERY importantly, this film doesn’t skimp on the creature sequences. We see them exploding out of people’s chests, hopping across fallow fields, climbing walls, closing in on the heroes from both ends of a sewer tunnel, and on and on. They move so fast! And there are so many of them! Hee hee!

>> Nice creature design! They start out as frisky little worms that grow into sort of batlike things with antennae. At full size they are rather larger than an opened umbrella, and likely to glom onto your face. The rubber models look super cool, and the CGI sequences are only faintly stupid-looking in most cases. At times the critters manage to look BOTH super cool AND totally stupid. Now that is great filmmaking. AND it perfectly mirrors what WE are doing...partly by land, and partly by sea...

>> There is one moment that I just have to share with you. In the thick of battle, the farmer gives the sheriff a double armload of dynamite and cautions him to be careful handling it. The sheriff agrees and sprints away through the sewers…RUNNING ALONG THE CEILING, because they got the film upside-down. It totally messed with my head, because they had the Flukes running along the sewer's ceiling too.

This was well worth the five bucks I paid for it, a rare (for me) blind buy from a bargain bin. I really recommend it.

Now at this point, people, I have a confession to make. From time to time I have raved on this board about a truly lousy movie in order to get you people to expand your horizons beond the high-budget tripe available on the big screen for ten bucks a sitting. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE TIMES. I am going to watch and enjoy this one again and again.


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