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Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/13/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/16/2015
As if SyFy's original monster movies didn't have enough of a weirdo following, the Sharknado series has brought even more attention to this sub-genre of made-for-TV movies. While Sharknado had a certain train-wreck "what will they do next?" charm, overall I'm not a fan of these films. Not only are they typically unoriginal and poorly-acted, but the CG effects are routinely awful. The plastic-looking monsters are often not-to-scale and look terribly fake. In short, they do nothing to inspire any fear in the viewer. I yearn for the old days when latex monsters harassed on-screen victims. Mosquito may not be great movie, but it does remind us that a plastic creature can actually have screen presence.
As Mosquito opens, a spaceship (apparently an alien spaceship), jettisons something over the Earth, which lands in a swamp. We then see mosquitoes feeding on what appears to be a body lying in the wreckage. Meanwhile, Ray (Tim Lovelace) is driving his girlfriend, Megan (Rachel Loiselle), to her new job as a park ranger, when their car is struck by a large flying creature. They take their now-damaged vehicle to the next town, where they meet Dr. Park (Steve Dixon), a government employee who is trying to track down a meteor which may have landed in the area. They soon find that something has attacked and killed the visitors to Megan's new place of business, and it doesn't take long to realize that giant mosquitoes are behind this carnage. As this group attempts to flee the area, they run into a group of desperate bank robbers, lead by Earl (Gunnar Hansen).
Gary Jones is not a household name, even amongst the horror crowd. But, when you learn that the special effects artists turned director was a part of Sam Raimi's crowd in Michigan, then the tone of Mosquito begins to make sense, as this movie is all over the map. Again, we open with the spaceship and the viewer thinks, "Wait, is this a sci-fi movie?" Then, it settles down into a standard monster movie groove, and while the movie isn't gory per se, it doesn't shy away from showing the mosquito attack victims. The inclusion of the bank robbers not only introduces the old "man's inhumanity against man during a crisis" subplot which is featured in many horror movies, but it also brings in a crime element, which the guys in Raimi's group always seem to learn towards. Finally, there is a streak of undeniably goofy humor here, supplied in most part by Hendricks (Ron Asheton), the lazy park ranger.
With those elements combined, Mosquito presents itself as an oddball hybrid of a movie which attempts to tackle many genres at once. And while it is clearly a low-budget affair, Jones and his team also have an obvious love of the genre and they infuse the movie with an undeniable sense of energy. Also, given Jones background, it's not surprising that the special effects are the real stars of the film. There's no doubt that a lot of work went into designing the monstrous mosquitoes, which appear to be about four feet long. They are highly detailed and the movie doesn't shy away from showing them. And, while we know that this is all fake, there is still something which makes latex more effective than CG. When a mosquito proboscis comes at one of the characters, there is a real sense that it is a threat, as opposed to one which we know isn't really there. The movie also utilizes and interesting mix of optical and stop-motion effects. Sure, these look dated, but they are so obsolete that they look unique today.
Yes, Mosquito definitely has its shortcomings. The quality of the acting varies wildly here and some scenes offer dialogue which is so flat, one has to wonder if they were shooting the rehearsals. Again, the low budget shows through at times, and I have no doubt that the mosquito victims where family and friends of the filmmakers. The story is wafer-thin and logic and character development certainly take a backseat to mosquito action. But, this is also a great example of what filmmakers were doing just before the dawn of CG monster movies. Again, the mosquitoes look great and their attacks have a definite savagery to them. The movie is never scary, but it is exciting and fun at times, making it a nice distraction from today's unconvincing digital monsters.
Mosquito buzzes onto Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Synapse Films. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. Synapse is well-known for doing an amazing job of cleaning up and repairing old movies so that they look great on Blu-ray Disc. Mosquito must have been in bad shape, as the transfer here still shows some issues. The image is sharp and clear at times, but some shots show noticeable grain and look somewhat washed out. There are very few defects from the source material and the image rarely looks dark. True, we are dealing with a low-budget independent film, so my guess is that this is best that the movie has looked since its original release. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is one of those new tracks on an old movie where the surround effects do exist, but they are too discreet for their own good. Still, we can hear everything which is happening and the mosquito buzzing definitely comes through loud and clear.
The Mosquito Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Gary Jones, Producer David Thiry, and Director of Photography Tom Chaney. "Bugging Out!: The Making of Mosquito" (76 minutes) contains interviews with the principal filmmakers. Jones talks about his work with Sam Raimi's crew and then how he moved into making his own movies. We then get a trip down memory lane, as Jones and Chaney visiting the old locations. From there, we hear from the actors (and see some rehearsal footage), who share some anecdotes. The pieces contains a nice amount of on-set footage and production stills. The Disc contains four DELETED & EXTENDED SCENES which run about 7 minutes. These can be viewed with optional commentary. We next get a reel of "Behind-the-Scenes Footage" (40 minutes), which is essentially "fly-on-the-wall" video. This can also be viewed with commentary. The extras are rounded out by a STILL GALLERY and a THEATRICAL TRAILER.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long