The Nest (1987) — Welcome to the roach motel

“Could roaches do that?” “Yeah, if they had a knife and fork.”

Justin’s rating: No musical numbers in this cockroach movie, I note

Justin’s review: As someone who was mildly traumatized by a childhood experience in which a cockroach crawled into my ear while sleeping at a relative’s house, I don’t hold a lot of fondness for the disgusting little garbage snackers. That’s probably not a bold stance to take, seeing as how most everyone hates roaches wherever they show up.

So why not watch a whole movie about them? And, to add fuel to your nightmares, why not beef up the roaches so that they can strip people, piranha-style?

Welcome to The Nest, a 1987 flick that was probably better known for its poster art than its actual content. As the story opens, island town North Port and its quirky residents start seeing signs of odd things happening in the vicinity. You know, library books being chewed up and dogs being mutilated, that sort of thing. It turns out, as these things often do, that it’s the work of homicidal cockroaches — and they’re just getting started.

I love that the roaches have their own weird little sound effect that I guess is meant to be chilling but comes across like a carbon monoxide alarm. Hey, it’s the closest thing they have to a theme song, so let’s cut them some slack. And the reason why they’re all murder-y is because they were a genetically engineered species designed by a housing company to eat OTHER roaches and then die.

With a few million of these bugs and a dumb company on Team Roach, who’s going to bat for Team Human? That would be genial sheriff Richard, his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth, “Pest Control Agent” Homer, and slightly creepy animal geneticist Dr. Hubbard. Between Elizabeth, Hubbard, a townie teenybopper, and Richard’s actual waitress girlfriend, everyone spends a whole lot of time making googly eyes at Richard and his ’70s haircut.

As the company drags its feet on a roach cleanup and the locals are slow to realize that they’re an all-they-can-eat buffet nearing lunchtime, the body count starts racking up. The Nest may not boast the budget and star power of better creature features, but it’s oddly decent. You know, for a movie about killer bugs.

I actually liked most of the cast, as they played characters with some good timing and distinct qualities. This is vital for a horror movie, because if you don’t like — and care about — the characters, there’s really no tension in whether or not they make it to the end credits. But here I care, which is why I really, really did not want them to venture into the titular nest to see what horrors lay within.

Of course, it’s the roaches that are the stars. For the most part, the movie uses actual insects which are creepy and crawly enough on their own. Did I ever buy the threat that they could actually overpower and kill people that quickly? Not at all, but they still gave me the heebie-jeebies. And not even PETA was showing up to protest the cast actually killing these on screen.

Eventually the bugs start to mutate into abominations that are part roach, part whatever they just ate. And that’s not even taking into account the Queen Roach in all of her puppetry glory. If you stick it out to the last half-hour, that’s when the practical effects come out to play.

The Nest got plowed over when it released on the same day as Friday the 13th Part VII. Plowed over — but not exterminated. Creature feature lovers are welcome to partake, but bugphobes need to stay far, far away.

Didja notice?

  • Mmm roach coffee
  • “You look older, Dad” is something every father wants to hear when a kid comes home
  • Crazy old dudes always have to run around in their long johns
  • Throwing covers over your head is not a good defense against killer roaches
  • [In front of the dog carcass] “You ever have a dog?” “Not ’til now.”
  • Cats make good bait
  • The doctor is enraptured with the roaches eating her hand?
  • Homer and Richard doing a comedy routine walking around the truck
  • Don’t eat roach droppings, dude!
  • I like how the sheriff resigns — confident and quietly
  • That’s a lot of bugs in a toilet
  • Those are some sweet old-fashioned radio headphones
  • Roaches in your cast, sweet!
  • Roaches in the microwave, blender, toaster, and deep fryer
  • Guess you can freeze to death in a restaurant freezer in an hour?
  • This movie taught me how very easy limbs are to rip off

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