Matinee
MANSQUITO;
aka, MOSQUITOMAN. 2005
Director: Tibor Takacs

MOSQUITO;
aka, BLOOD FEVER or NIGHTSWARM. 1995
Director: Gary Jones

MATINEE. 1993
Director: Joe Dante

POPCORN. 1991
Director: Mark Herrier

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Gimme Bugs, Gimme Bugs, Gimme Oh Sweet Bugs.

MansquitoThe shlocky creature feature Mansquito (2005) delivers everything a shlocky creature feature should. A prison inmate volunteers to be a guinea pig in a research project, but is really planning to use this as an opportunity to escape. In so doing he wrecks havoc in the laboratory & gets himself splattered with radioactive goo mixed with genetically altered mosquito particles.

He begins immediately to morph into Bloodsucking Mosquito Dude with phallic drinking-tube stabbing outward from his mosquito-face & down victims' throats. The script counts on the fact that not many people know only female mosquitos are bloodsuckers.

The lovely scientist got only a tiny spatter of radioactive mosquito gunk on her & begins a much slower transmogrification.

MansquitoThis ain't at all bad for a cheapy creature feature. It makes the most of its relatively few FX sequences then goes all-out for a Mansquito vs Womansquito climax.

Mansquito wants to mate with Womansquito to birth a new race of gross-out giant bloodsuckers that prey on people. But the woman hasn't gotten far enough along in her transformation to share the love. She's ready to fight to the death to save her beloved policeman sweety.

There is a surprising degree of talent involved in this thing. Director Tibor Takacs has made some crappy films & tv series episodes, but he's also done some praiseworthy stuff, especially I, Madman (1989), a neglected minor masterpiece.

Musetta Vander as the Womansquito is both sexy & frightening, yet sympathetic throughout, & does a surprisingly convincing job in the final action sequence. The rest of the cast isn't her equal, but no one's awful. Corin Nemec is perfectly adequate as the cop, despite the overly large coincidence of his being simultaneously Womansquito's boyfriend & the cop trying to track down Mansquito.

MosquitoThe mansquito suit is pleasantly yucky, even if a little comical when we're supposed to believe such a tub-of-lard mansquito can fly with those puny little wings. Austin Jordon as the creature is scary even before he becomes skeeterdude.


While Mansquito is entertainingly bad, delivering neither more nor less than its crapulistic formula promises, Mosquito (1995) is a little sillier, a lot less effective, & even cheaper. But if it is watched with low expectations, it is not as bad as "yet another direct-to-video giant insect movie" should've been.

A UFO crashes in a swamp & mosquitos suck blood from the dangling arm of a dying alien. The result is a plague of gigantic mosquitos with iron-sword bloodsucking shnozzes.

The CGI FX for the mosquitos are only half bad, though the acting is all bad. Some of it seems to be intentionally comical though one never knows when or if a script this silly is intentionally or accidentally laughable.

If you try to guess how the plot runs you're going to get it right as there's nothing original going to happen. But it's shlocky fun for anyone capable of enjoying giant bug movies in the first place.


PopcornMatinee (1993) is a nostalgia fest & a surprisingly respectful parody of shlock horror of the 1950s & 60s. John Goodman plays a William Castle type horror film promoter who is showing his latest piece of cheese, in Atomo Vision, at the Saturday matinee in Key West.

The Cuba missile crisis is in full sway & Lawrence Woolsey's plan is to phony up a nuclear attack during his film's debut, to get free publicity, not expecting panic to ensue.

It's a wonderful period piece to start with, & Goodman as Woolsey is brilliant casting. The support cast are all doing fine work. But to boost the wondrousness of his amusing film, there is a great parody being shown at the Matinee, a little film-within-the-film, called Mant.

Mant is absolutely perfect in capturing the look & feel of b/w films of the era. Haircuts, costumes, sets are dead-on, & Mant ("half man, half ant, all terror") is no more nor less goofy than the drive-in shlock classics it so closely imitates.

Anyone who loves a clever comedy should adore this film, but trufans of horror cinema will find many winning in-jokes to amp up the pleasure of the viewing. You can see that everyone had a joyful time making this film, & I sure had a joyful time watching it.


PopcornA perfect double-bill with Matinee would be to show it with Popcorn (1991), another loving spoofy homage to horror films of the past.

Students from a nearby film school are dressing up a long-closed cinema palace in order to do a fund-raiser for their school, in the form of an all-night horror-fest of shlock classics.

They do everything they can to recapture the feeling of going to the movies back when theaters really were palacial. With the help of an elderly horror-memorabilia collector (Ray Walston in a role that'll remind hardcore horror fans of Forrest J. Ackerman in his horror memorabilia-packed home, the Ackermansion), they have access to authentic gimmicky promotional materials to go with the films. Some of that junk may strike younger viewers as only satiric & absurd, but it's all very close to what it was really done in those days.

The old movie palace is haunted by a psychopath who is part Phantom of the Opera & part pig-head from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As the students try to keep the shlock fest on schedule, mayhem is in the wings & the rafters, with resulting gore.

All the while, the phonied up movies seen on the screen, similar to Mant in Matinee, are really very convincing imitations of 1950s shlock horrors.

Where the 1995 Gary Jones non-parody Mosquito is a bad movie on most levels, Joe Dante's short b/w film-in-a-film likewise titled Mosquito is in its own small way brilliant, certainly more effective than the feature-length version.

To see the style & tone of such films imitated so perfectly is just the funniest thing. The scene where a giant mosquito punctures the bonnet of the vintage car & then punctures the skull of the driver sucking out his brains is both creepy & a laugh-riot. If that film had really been made in the movie-palace or drive-in eras, most viewers would've been too scared to be laughing.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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