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Black Swarm

Year of Release: 2007
Genre:  Horror / Sci-Fi
IMDB Rating: 4.1 / 10
Level of Awful: Low
Breast-O-Meter: 0 / 5

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

This movie has reminded me that life is full of disappointment. When you’re watching a movie directed by a man who brought us a great classic like Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie you think you’re in good hands, but I was proven wrong. Even the inclusion of Robert Englund wasn’t enough to bring this little movie up to par. The problem with it is that it’s not bad enough to be a funny b-movie but it isn’t good enough to be a good movie, so it hovers somewhere in between in a poorly defined b-movie limbo. The acting’s alright but it’s nothing great and the CGI isn’t amazing but it’s not laughable. It makes it very difficult to make fun of the movie and at the same time a little difficult to enjoy it.

Creepy ice cream vendors have really dropped their hygiene standards in recent years...

We begin our tale of love, adventure, betrayal and wasps in the little town of Black Stone. It’s one of those typical little American towns full of good people with morals, traditional values, pristine gardens and an enormous church. 10 years ago Jane Kozik left Black Stone to go live in Manhattan after her husband was killed in a freak accident while trying to take care of a wasp nest. I say it was a freak accident because he burned to death. Now she’s moving back to town and she’s bringing her daughter Kelsey along for the ride. She knows it’ll be an adjustment for her daughter, who’s spent her entire life growing up in the big city with all that new fangled technology, but Jane thinks this move is exactly what the two of them need. Why they need it we’re never really told, but I was prepared to run with it and see where the story was going to take me.

Nothing good will come from a honey scented body scrub.

Oddly enough it takes us to a street corner with Robert Englund on it. He plays Eli, Black Stone’s resident bee keeper who doesn’t keep bees but instead grows peaches. For some or other reason Kelsey takes an immediate shining to Eli, despite the fact that he’s an overly sarcastic man with ninja escape skills and no patience for children. Floating around town is Devin, the twin brother of Jane’s dead husband, and he’s a pest exterminator. Incidentally many people in town are walking around with enormous stings on their faces and making mysterious buzzing sounds, but that’s hardly important at this stage of the movie and all the characters ignore this strange behaviour for the time being. This includes the obnoxious mayor who’s busy trying to breathe some new life into Black Stone.

Wasp sting facial masks would never make it beyond the initial testing stages...

The wasps themselves play a relatively minor role in this movie. Lacking the acting skills of the ants from The Hive, their menace is more implied that directly seen. What we do know is that when they sting you you die, but they can use your corpse as a host for their more nefarious undertakings. This includes turning the human into a drone where a wasp seems to take control of the body and guide it. Wasps have a poor understanding of human nature, however, so their ability to drive their human drone is at times a bit off. Along the way we’ll also meet Katherine Randell, a highly qualified entomologist who looks more like the madam of a high-end brothel in a power suit. She’s absolutely stumped as to what’s going on, and she needs Devin’s expertise to help her unwrap the mystery wrapped in an enigma contained in a hive that’s going on in Black Stone. The two also need to act quick, because the wasps are beginning to gather their forces for an all-out attack on the town’s population, and before long they’ll have turned every last human they can find into yet another one of their poorly driven drones.

LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:

  • When confronted with giant stinging insects the best thing to do is take off your protective gear.
  • American bakeries are very quick to relocate to Mexico whenever the opportunity arises.
  • Stinging wasps, disappearing sting victims and murder most foul make an entomologist’s day.
  • Gorgeous blonde entomologists are often caught up in other people’s awkward family situations.
  • If you tease DNA it may be willing to give you a few answers.
  • Wherever Robert Englund appears, there’s bound to be an Elm Street nearby.
  • It’s quite common for people to lose all cognitive function and start make buzzing noises from inside their skulls.
  • The true horrors of genetically mutated wasps are a little lost on a 9-year-old girl.

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The Hive

Year of Release: 2008
Genre:  Sci-Fi / Horror
IMDB Rating: 3.4 / 10
Level of Awful: Medium
Breast-O-Meter: 0 / 5

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

What’s not to love about a good movie made for the SyFy Channel? They’re guaranteed to be b-grade, they’re guaranteed to be made on a low-budget and they’re guaranteed to be a good laugh. The Hive is no different; based around an island under attack by a swarm of man-eating ants the audience is subjected to an hour and a half’s worth of so-so acting, horrible CGI and a plot that’s so far-fetched I recommend it for nothing else other than the ‘No, they didn’t just do that!’ factor. Read on, dear reader, if you would like to know just how far the animal kingdom can be pushed by a company out to make a tremendously b-grade sci-fi / horror combo!

The Great Human-Ant War of 2008 saw many heroic figures devoured on the battle field.

Something’s very wrong on a little island in the middle of the Pacific. One night, high up in the sky, a strange light was seen descending and disappearing behind a hill, and ever since then the ant population of the island has been going a little awry. It would appear that they are no longer content to simply invade the locals’ picnics and make off with whatever scraps are available to them – they’ve now got their sights on a much bigger prize. It all begins simply enough: one night, in the middle of the jungle, a woman is busy tidying her house while her baby gently rocks itself in a little hammock. Outside, the ants are preparing for their first attack. Hundreds of thousands of them descend on the house, making intricate structures on the roof by bunching together. Having gathered into formation they begin falling from the roof and, in a matter of seconds, devour the woman and her child and leave nothing but piles of bones and clothes. Soon most of the island’s population is on the run as the ants begin to spread out and attack entire communities, leaving nothing but death and destruction in their wake.

The Ant Laser 2000: For all your ant killing needs.

With the island on the brink of collapse it’s up to Team Thorax (I shit you not), a group of highly trained insect killers, to try and sort out the problem. They’ve come fully loaded: suits to stop the ants getting to them, high-powered ant-killing laser guns and a state-of-the-art communications centre to keep in touch with those brave souls out on patrol. All of these things are necessary since the ants are displaying incredibly aggressive behaviour, are swarming in never-before-seen numbers and have developed the ability to run at about 90 km/h. Where the ants plan on striking next is also proving to be very difficult to track and the combined forces of Team Thorax and the island’s military are being stretched rather thin trying to contain the outbreak. Oddly enough though nobody seems to think that millions of ants swarming together and eating people alive is particularly strange behaviour. Obviously Team Thorax has seen its fair share of ant-related atrocities in its time and this is really just another day at work for them.

Ants have evolved far superior pyrotechnic capabilities in comparison to humans.

Since eating every human in sight doesn’t seem to be impressing Team Thorax overly much the ants decide to go all-out and display even more bizarre behaviour in a desperate bid to get some attention. Firstly the humans discover, when they take a sample from the ants’ frontline, that the swarm is made up of a number of different species of ants, something very strange since ants usually attack ants of a different kind (racism is still very much an issue in the ant community). Nobody seems to think much of this, so the ants then start to mass together and form floating tentacles with all the ants at the front staring forward so that they can investigate their surroundings. The tentacles are also good at breaking things when the ants get angry. This doesn’t seem to impress Team Thorax either, so the ants decide to take the leader and his scientist girlfriend into their lair. Here we find that the ants have turned themselves into a computer (again, I shit you not) capable of controlling the swarm and assigning tasks to the various different ant species to ensure the optimum killing power of the swarm as a unit. The ants then begin to communicate with the humans, telling them what it is they want and why they’re doing what they’re doing. The humans must then decide if they’re going to give the ants what they want or declare all-out war.

See? Watch it for nothing other than the sheer ridiculousness of its plot. Even by SyFy standards this one was rather far-fetched.

LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:

  • A great way to seduce a woman is to insult her field of expertise on national television.
  • There’s an entire industry dedicated to making enormous weapons for killing ants.
  • Speculating about mass intelligence in insect swarms is hardly mainstream science.
  • Women hate it when you grossly overstate the purpose of their PhD thesis.
  • Ants are incredibly eager hosts and want to show off the home they’ve created.
  • Ants are open to entering into territorial negotiations.
  • Ants are very knowledgeable on the workings of the human brain.
  • Ants are very good at using humans as ventriloquist dummies.

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