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STUDIO: Genius Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes
“It‘s National Geographic meets the Sci-Fi Channel”
Cast: Kal Weber, Elizabeth Healey, Mark Ramsey, Tom Wopat
Director: Peter Manus
A deadly swarm of ants takes over a southeast Asian archipelago. But these aren’t your normal ants! Enter THORAX – a futuristic extermination squad that uses fucking PLASMA CANNONS to kill ants. Though I suppose you need plasma cannons to deal with ants that form giant tentacles WITH FISTS, perform hostage negotiations, build super computers with nothing but THEMSELVES and even come-together to create one gigantic ant, a la VOLTRON.
Publicity still from An American Siafu in Asia.
So I’m all for “Nature run amok” stories and the Golden-Age Atomic Monster Flicks. They’re usually rather inventive and often times serve as decent metaphors for the whole environmental movement. The Hive, while technically following the same format, loses pretty much all of the charm and soul of the movies it’s trying to ape.
After starting with a pretty evil little intro scene involving a baby (!), everything spirals straight into stupid b-movie flick territory and goes straight for the clichés. Scientists on one end who say ants are intelligent and are treated unfairly with our various extermination methods. Exterminators on the other who think they’re all full of shit and can’t wait to go vaporize some more of those “little bastards.” And in the middle we have our heroes: the lead exterminator and the lead doctor who understand and respect each other’s principles enough to see both sides. It’s obviously not the most dynamic bunch of characters and the dialogue they’re given doesn’t help.
THORAX: A team of superhero exterminators who double as a kick-ass metal band!
And then there are the ants. I touched on all of their big set pieces earlier and yeah – in and of themselves they’re pretty cool. It’s a nice riff on the whole “living bridge” thing that real ants actually do and I could dig it on that aspect alone. But when they start trying to explain all of this shit everything falls apart. I wouldn’t have minded a simple “ancient ant species evolves” explanation as it would have kept everything simple and played into the old sensibilities of the classic flicks in the genre. But instead there’s some hackneyed plot about aliens and a never-seen spaceship and a gigantic blue mass of energy that moves around and sort of looks like a giant ant/locust thing.
Well of COURSE the skeleton’s gonna be overtaken. You can’t run without muscles. Duh.
There’s also some weird subplot involving an ant crawling into the ear canal (into the brain?) of one of the exterminators. For some reason we keep cutting back to this ant inside the dude’s head, crawling around and nibbling on shit. What’s he doing in there? They never explain it. It never really leads anywhere. But they sure as hell find the need to keep reminding us that there’s an ant in this guy’s head.
In other words – the whole thing is fucking dumb. And not in the good way.
I like the art. It’s grungy and, aside from a stupid tagline (“DEATH IS THEIR PICNIC” Really? Fuck you.) it’s got some nice imagery of a woman being covered in a swarm of ants. But…her legs are missing below the knee, for some reason. And there’s more blood on the cover than there is in the entire movie. So, yeah, I like it, but it’s completely mis-representative of the movie inside. Hell, if it WERE a movie about ants that ate people’s legs off and left them screaming and covered in grue I’d probably be writing a much different review. The old bait-n-switch!
After awhile, the rush of people wanting to urinate into Old Faithful required military attention.
And there are no features whatsoever. I’m actually pretty happy about that.