Monday, February 10, 2020

Tick Tick Boom

The tick, one of nature's tiniest terrors made all the more deadly for just how small and undetectable it usually is. Does it break the covenant of The Shortening to cover a movie about a little thing made bigger? Considering the ticks of Ticks are still hand-sized and more importantly, that I'm the one making the rules, I'll say no. 

Let's do this. 

Quick Plot: A youth wilderness trip run by two not overly social workers is heading to the woods. The group includes the anxious Tyler (a gloriously young and awkward Seth Green), prissy DeeDee (Monkees' spawn Ami Dolenz), her boyfriend Rome, the sort of mute Kelly, Melissa, the chaperone's daughter, not-at-all gangster Panic (Fresh Prince's Alfonso Ribeiro), and his vicious...border collie.

All are pretty miserable, some with fairly valid reasons (when the near-mute Kelly finally speaks, she explains, "After I was raped, I just had nothing to say." The subject is never brought up again).

Elsewhere in the woods, Clint Howard is adding some steroids to his marijuana crop, unaware that some of the runoff from his production is seriously mutating the local ticks. It doesn't take long for nature's vampires to make themselves known to our ragtag campers, who quickly end up trapped in a cabin with a violent pair of sheriff-murdering locals. 

Clocking in under 90 minutes, Ticks flies by pretty quickly once the titular arachnids launch their attack. Director Tony Randel (probably best known for Hellraiser II) gets his money's worth from Doug Beswick's super gooey practical effects, lingering on long shots of pulsating tick-popping body parts and dripping wounds. I'll never speak ill of a movie that incorporates MULTIPLE bear traps, particularly when an all-out Clint Howard is the one on the wrong end. 

Ticks had an extremely brief 1993 theatrical run, but is probably remembered mostly for its VHS placement on rental shelves. As a remnant of its era, it's a pretty darn good time, and probably holds some merit as the last arach-attack flick to not use CGI. 

It's hard not to have a good time with Ticks, even if it's ultimately a fairly empty, incredibly silly ride. 

High Points
For a cheap '90s creature feature that knows exactly what it is, Ticks actually takes the rare step in treating its first major death-of-a-teenager with the kind of weight it would actually carry in the real world of, you know, a group of randomly assembled teenagers were hunted by steroid-laced ticks and one of them died

Low Points the same time, when you sit back and look at the death count of Ticks, tallying up three adult criminals and one black teenager feels a little disappointing in more ways than one

Lessons Learned
True parental love means dropping your kid off with complete strangers for a wilderness weekend and trusting them enough to not even bother meeting the people in charge

When in doubt, squish

Anxiety disorders will really flare up in stressful situations, especially when they involve man-eating ticks and psychos with shotguns

Ticks is streaming on Amazon Prime, and it's a pretty fun way to kill some time when you're looking for a good batch of bloody bug-filled gore. Tuck your pants into your socks and have at it. 


  1. I've tried watching this movie twice before in my distant past... and both times I fell asleep. The movie must be infused with the same sleepy pixie dust as The Jungle Book and Labyrinth (two other movies I have never stayed awake through).
    I tried again last night... and nope.
    My eyes did pop open for a moment for the, "I'm INFESTED!!!" scene... which has long been a favorite quotation among my friends.

    1. I'm trying to respond, but I'm afraid I'm going to run out of air and die since I still can't breathe after hearing YOU HAVEN'T SEEN LABYRINTH.