I am of the opinion that eighties monster movies were the best monster movies. I know the fifties is typically the popular choice, but the eighties had THE THING, THE OUTING, FRIGHT NIGHT, BRAIN DAMAGE, and more than I can name. So an early nineties monster movie like TICKS ought to capture some of that magic…right?
Tyler is a nerdy redhead whose father signs him up for an “inner city nature retreat” (or something like that) because his drunken father left him in the woods for a while and Tyler’s been scarred ever since. So a bunch of inner city kids head out to the woods where, unbeknownst to them, marijuana farmers have been operating. However, the growth steroids they use for their marijuana have caused the wood ticks in the woods to grow to huge sizes. So now, the group faces a triple threat of the giant man-eating ticks, the hostile marijuana farmers, and the forest fire drawing closer.
TICKS is one of those movies where it feels like the director was given a 2-hour time slot to fill, and after he shot an hour of material, the studio came to him and said now he had to fit it in an 85-minute time slot. The movie seems to focus more on the marijuana farmers and character interactions for the first hour instead of the ticks, and finally, with about twenty-five minutes to spare, the ticks actually begin to attack the whole group.
Therein lies my biggest complaint; I love a little time being spent to flesh out the characters, but in a monster movie, most of the time should be focused on the actual monsters! The characterization does pay off, as we do get a lot of likable and well fleshed out characters. However, I thought the quiet Asian girl was really superfluous because she really doesn’t contribute anything. Oh, and Clint Howard is in this, and he acts exactly like you expect him to as a backwoods marijuana farmer. He even spews the movie’s classic line, “I’M INNFEEEESSSSSTTEEEEEEDDDD!!!” It also features Alphonso Rebeiro (Carl from THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR) as the “bad” kid (who’s pretty likable), Panic.
However, the final siege on the cabin with the ticks is really entertaining! The practical effects are fantastic (they were done by the renowned KNB effects) and some of the gore is really good. However, it began to wear on me because it was so repetitive and I realized what it needed. Then, as if my prayers had been answered, what the film needed was included. And it was awesome.
TICKS is an alright watch, but it’s far from perfection. It tends to drag considerably in the middle and it really isn’t that original. But then again, lack of originality is better than throwing everything at the audience and hoping something works a la THE UNNAMABLE. It has good acting, likable characters, fantastic effects, good gore, and it’s just FUN. It may bore you, but in the end, everything is all right.
Take a look.