31 Days of Horror(1)

When I did my Doomsday Reels article on The Dead Next Door I wondered what had happened to J.R. Bookwalter after he made his amateurish zombie movie.  The answer?  More than I thought, but not much, though apparently in the late 90s he (and his production company Tempe Entertainment) got conscripted into Full Moon for a series of mega low-budget movies.

He did the sequels to the Witchouse series and produced some other stuff until the company shut down in 2002 and transformed into Shadow Entertainment/Wizard Video.  During this period he directed a giant scorpion movie, entitled Deadly Stingers to be released in 2003 for 20th Century Fox but due to the collapse in the godawful direct-to-video-animals-attack-schlockbuster market (we were someplace between Frankenfish and Octoshark if memory serves) it was shelved indefinitely and didn’t see the light of day for ten years until it was released on Full Moon Streaming.


Is there a title more forgettable than Mega Scorpions?  I have no idea why Deadly Stingers was dropped for something altogether more generic.  But that’s not the point; how is the movie?  It’s. . .  alright.  Bookwalter does his level best to elevate Mega Scorpions above other films of its type, he’s going for a 50s monster movie vibe with an 80s sensibility toward violence and special effects and it kind of works.

I really appreciate the gory visceral nature of the movie, unfortunately the scorpions are the worst of the worst looking.  Even 2003-era bargain basement CG shouldn’t look this bad.  I’m aware the budget for this was probably nearly nothing but even your average SciFi channel schlock was capable of putting together something a bit better than this.

What’s more, the story is forgettable.  I remember almost nothing about what happened and I watched it two days ago.  We open on a couple making out and preparing to have sex when the guy says or does something and the woman isn’t into it, so he tries to rape her when a six-foot scorpion appears in his living room and kills him.  The police blame the girl, who lives at a nearby halfway house.

The halfway house is populated by forgettable characters whose stories I don’t recall except for a paranoid-schizophrenic heroin addict named Ellroy (played by Trent Haaga) who has been seeing the scorpions for a while but has just decided that they’re hallucinations.  The mayor and the sheriff want the halfway house shut down and are willing to convict a person they know to be innocent to do it.

There’s also a guy named Collins (Sewell Whitney) who I think is a medical examiner, he has a character quirk where he’s squeamish around blood and throws up a lot because of it.  Collins becomes the hero for a time and develops a way to fight back as our main characters try to survive until dawn. I don’t remember anything about Collins other than that I liked him, he was one of the better acted roles in the movie, and I wished he was in it more.

*shrug* (That’s my pull-quote.)

This movie passed through my brain like shit through a goose, it feels less like a movie I watched a few days ago and more like a weird dream I had.  (That’s my other pull-quote.)  This is, to date, J.R. Bookwalter’s last directorial effort (though he remains a prolific producer to this day) and it’s somehow cheaper-looking and more amateurish than the movie he made fourteen years prior when he didn’t even know how to use a light meter and the entire thing was dubbed over by three actors in a weekend.

Watch, Toss, Or Buy? Poorly made, poorly funded, poorly treated, poorly written. Toss it.

If You Liked This, Watch: Eight Legged Freaks (2002), Big Ass Spider! (2013), THEM! (1954), Gila! (2012), The Nest (1988), Stung (2015), Bug Buster (1998), Arachnophobia (1990)