Wednesday, June 1, 2016


"TICKS" (1993)
Directed by Tony Randel
    This direct to video low budget horror film is directed by the man that brought you "Hellbound:Hellraiser II". Unlike Hellraiser, instead of nasty Cenobites, it's full of  ticks that are mutated to huge sizes when "herbal" steroids, used to accelerate the growth of marijuana, drips onto ordinary tick eggs. Not only do these bloodthirsty insects drain you of the red stuff but due to the steroids in their system, after they bite you, you begin to hallucinate.
   The would-be victims in this film, are a group of troubled inner city teens on a wilderness retreat, chaperoned by our second favorite Bosom Buddy, Peter Scolari. Among the teens are a young Seth Green and Alfonso Ribeiro, who portrays "Panic", an unconvincing, yet lovable street thug. Part of this film's charm, are the things that make it unbelievable, such as Panic's very UN-gangsta pants.
   Normally, a bunch of mutant ticks would be more than enough to satisfy B-movie fans but this film pulls out more than one threat on our young cast.  Outlaw marijuana growers, a gang of two led by a crime-boss simply known as "Sir", are also in the deep dark woods. You got ticks on the left and criminals on the right, surely that is all these teens must defend themselves from, right? Wrong. In an attempt to kill Panic, Sir accidentally shoots a gasoline can that starts a forest fire. In our third act of the film, the troubled youths are trapped in a cabin with the armed criminals, while the raging fire outside approaches, thus pushing all over-grown ticks to scurry on over to the cabin. What a kerfuffle!
    Nature gone wild horror films are usually cautionary tales, the theme being: man is messing everything up, so let's teach man a lesson. The lesson in "Ticks" seems to be: Don't mess with the environment by poisoning it in the name of agriculture. It is definitely a different spin on things to have marijuana be the plant that is being messed with. It feels like the lesson is: Don't smoke weed, but "Ticks" does not play like an anti-drug film. Having tainted marijuana be the catalyst also seems to remind us that crime doesn't pay.
   "Ticks" doesn't have the feel of a film that is serving an important message. It simply plays like a fun story with an exciting final act, brought to you by people that did the best that they could with what they had. As much as it may feel like a film that could possibly play campy, it doesn't. Clint Howard does lend some camp to his scenes and the first scene that introduces Panic is a bit corny but it's easy to go along with it. Plus, it has re-watchability.
   I first discovered "Ticks" years ago on cable and was very happy when Olive Films released it on Blu-Ray. This movie could make a great double feature with another creepy, crawly film. Maybe one of the many spider-themed horror flicks?

   A member of the creature feature family, "Ticks" is a small film that still has the potential to grow in cult status. Will it stop people from smoking weed? Probably not. In fact, I picture many of "Ticks" fans to be high while they watch it.  Will it stop anyone from tinkering with crops? Doubtful. In the meantime, let's be happy that movies like "Ticks" compliment our wild horror world.
(Artwork by Isaac Keith Martinez)


Barry P. said...

Fun review, Isaac. Not sure how this movie slipped by my radar, but I think I need to check it out. And kudos for using the word "kerfuffle" in a review.

Thanks so much for joining the Nature's Fury Blogathon!

Emma said...

I actually really like this film haha! It's great for unintentional humour and is a lot of fun too :) I got a copy on DVD for 99p out of a bargain basket years ago.

Great review and choice for Nature's Fury!!

Isaac's Haunted Beard said...

99 cents well spent!

Silver Screenings said...

I've never even heard of this film, but I really enjoyed your review. It does sound like Ticks has big potential to be a cult classic, as you pointed out.

Isaac's Haunted Beard said...

Let's build a cult for it.