Ticks aka Infested
Harry Potter and the Forest of Bugs …aka “Infested” aka “Ticks” is so damn 80ies, its hard to believe it’s from 1993. Luckily, the movie doesn’t take itself as serious as some reviews seem to do. I’ve read horrible things about this ultra-violent gorefest, but… Hell, we are talking about a giant rubber monster movie here, not a splatter flick a la Braindead.
So, why Harry Potter? Because Tyler, one of the youngsters taking part in a youth rehab program in the wilderness, just screams Harry Potter. I believe its the glasses, and the scene where he fights mutated rubber bugs with a flaming broom certainly does its part as well. Other participants of the “get over your troubles by becoming one with nature” camping trip fulfill their stereotypes. Panic – a stereotype big mouthed black ghetto kid. A Mexican suave guy (the name was mentioned once or twice, but I already forgot it) and his dumb blond girlfriend. The silent waters are deep Asian girl. The ‘my dad is an asshole’ daughter of the camp supervisor; said dad and his co-supervisor/affair Holly. They all are as stereotype as possible in their roles, and that’s perfectly fine for me.
The part of the cast that gets slightly confusing contains Sir and Jerry, who are appearantly local dope dealers (and no-one knows what the f they are doing in the forest) and some weird guy living in a weird hut, with no relation to anything else.
The weird guy in the weird hut does weird things (drinking tea and preparing bear traps), then he is attacked by mutated ticks. Then we simply switch to some yard in LA where Dad and Holly pick up the kids for their camping trip and the story begins.
In said camping hut, Tyler discovers a slimy cocoon in the closet, which doesn’t concern him, Panic or the Mexican suave guy, who all share this room. After some minor arguments, Panic’s dog gets attacked and killed in the woods, having the two results of Dad and Holly calling the sheriff and Panic deciding to get back to LA on his own. Dad and Tyler take the dead dog to the next vet, where they learn about the mutated ticks (not why they mutated, this will remain a secret forever) and that their bites cause hallucinations. Remember this. Its very important to make sense of… something.
Meanwhile, a damn lot of events take place or start to do so:
Panic ran into Sir and Jerry, and somehow got them angry. Why, I can’t tell, but they try to kill him.
Holly talked Dad’s daughter (Melissa, I believe) into taking the Asian girl to a pond for fishing, where the girls find the dead body of the sheriff.
Mexian suave guy and his girlfriend discovered the weird hut of the weird guy, where the girlfriend got bitten by a tick; the weird guy killed himself after screaming “I’M INFESTED!” and having ticks spawn from his face. Or so.
On their way back from the vet, Dad and Tyler pick up Mexian suave guy and girlfriend. They make it back to the hut, while the most senseless scene ever takes place in the woods. Panic is still on the run from Sir and Jerry when he suddenly slips over a wire – which triggers two horns to go off. Awesome? Senseless? Both? It gets better. Panic falls and finds himself in front of two tanks of gasoline. Why they are there? No idea. But Sir tries to shot Panic, hits one of the tanks and sets the entire forest on fire. Panic makes it to jump off a hill or roll down, and being shot in the stomach, bitten by several ticks and just escaping a massive explosion… what would you do? You take the steroids you stole from the Mexican’s bag, thinking its painkillers. Not? Its what Panic does anways.
The fire causes all the ticks to crawl from the forest… no, not away. To the center, where the camping hut is. I have never really thought about the movement of ticks. I spent 3 weeks in the peaceful nature of Finland, so I sure had enough time to think about ticks in general. But I always pictured them as sitting still. Or moving very slow, like bugs. Not running around like spiders on LSD. Guess the ticks in this movie do because they are mutated and all.
When everyone is back in the hut, Sir and Jerry also show up there and threaten to kill someone if they don’t get the keys for the bus. Which made me wonder why they were somewhere in the woods if they had no car to get there. Anyways, the threat is only so-so effective, as everyone expects to die soon by either ticks or fire. Its also just a brief discussion because a near dead Panic returns, blames Sir and Jerry for his near death, and then dies. O lala. Now the others are really upset, but it doesn’t change the idea they’ll only get out alive as a team. Sir disagrees and forces his aide Jerry to make a run for the bus. Needless to say the ticks win that one.
Suddenly, Panic’s corpse starts moving and then rapidly mutating into the mentioned giant rubber monster tick. The solution, for now, is leaving Sir alone with the monster for poetic justice and coming up with a new plan to reach the bus. Tyler Potter swings outside the window, fights the ticks with a flaming broom (and no, I’m not joking) and gets to the bus. In the end, all kids except Panic (who explodes with the house, Sir and the main part of the forest when the fire reaches yet another gasoline tank), Dad and Holly make it back to LA, where we see a cocoon drop off the bus.
The effects aren’t bad, for a giant rubber monster movie. The worst is likely Panic’s rubber face during the mutation, but the bug legs are quite cool. All in all, this movie is far from being a violent gorefest; its fun splatter at best, and an average monster movie at worst.
Famous last words: If I had never heard about or seen this movie… I would live. Its no must see. But you also wouldn’t regret wasting 1.5 hours of your lifetime by watching it.