For the record: I feel really uncomfortable referring to something as “from the void” if it was released when I was in high school, but here we are. Accept the fact that you’re aging, Spacek. It’s an inevitability, and rejecting it will only make you sad and pathetic. Embrace the wisdom which comes with experience. Anyhow …
Mosquito is one of those films which I missed as a kid, and finding this in a video store closeout sale was me taking a bit of a chance, and man, did it ever pay off. This flick is fun as hell — definitely in the same vein as 1989’s The Dead Next Door, in that it’s gross, dumb, and acted with more enthusiasm than skill. However, much like that Midwestern diamond in the rough, Mosquito is just such a gem that it’s a damn shame more people aren’t aware of it.
Mosquito belies the fact that ‘90s horror has to suck. For every In the Mouth of Madness, Event Horizon, or Candyman, there are a bunch of movies I’d really prefer to forget, because they’re absolute nightmares (*cough* Urban Legend *cough*). Given that the mid-’90s heralded the advent of CGI, practical effects were on their way out, and lord knows, movies from that time look incredibly dated.
Amazingly enough, Mosquito entirely uses practical effects, and — combined with being shot on 16mm — it looks like it’s a far earlier film than it actually is. Though only a little over twenty years old, it could easily have been contemporaneous with movies a decade older, like Killer Klowns from Outer Space or The Thing. It’s billed as a “gore-drenched tale,” but it’s really more like an old-school horror movie that’s not going to take itself seriously.
I mean, really: mosquitos are irradiated by a flying saucer and take over the woods in a northern small town. It’s the sort of thing one would expect the likes of Ray Milland or Leo G. Carroll to have starred in at some point in the ‘50s, although they’d be lacking Mosquito’s gratuitous nude scene and explicit exsanguination of the various victims. It’s a monster movie in its purest form, and a good creature feature is really one of the most entertaining ways you can spend an evening.
The mosquitos look astonishing, and really belie the fact that this was a $200,000 movie. It looks way better, and while the acting isn’t anything spectacular, it’s got a certain joie de vivre that really can either make or break a low-budget independent feature. A movie that takes itself too seriously can be entertaining for the mockery factor, but when the cast is legitimately having fun, it turns the film into something special.
Case in point: the Stooges’ Ron Asheton is goddamn funny in this. In the making-of documentary which comes on the 20th anniversary DVD from Synapse, director Gary Jones said he had evidently wanted to be a b-movie actor at one point. Damn, he could’ve been. He’s a delight as the comic relief, and the way he plays off the the stoicism of Gunnar Hansen make for some really solid times.
After 80-some minutes of people being stabbed by immense probosci in everything up to and including the posterior, as well as splattery ends to both man and beast, there’s a great big explosion at the end, and it’s — as Hansen puts it — “a serious giant bug movie, but it approached the entire subject with great humor.” There’s a real joy to Mosquito, and seeking it out for your next viewing should be a priority.
Seek out the 20th anniversary version on DVD or Blu-ray from Synapse. There’s an excellent documentary on it called Bugging Out! that’s a really fun watch. Director Gary Jones leads a tour of filming locations, and interviews with the film’s cast — including the late Gunnar Hansen, but sadly not Ron Asheton prior to his death — really shows off that the movie must’ve been as much fun to make as it was to watch.