My notes on Dead Ant (Giant Killer Ants)
Hammer Films once initiated a project called Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls, which was never made … but the poster is tantalising, promising an aerial battle of disparate genres we can only dream would have been a classic. That sort of mix and match enthusiasm sometimes pops up in genre cinema – I’m a fan of Infested, which is The Big Chill plus bug-controlled zombies, and we’ve had enough ‘vs Zombies’ movies to cover every sub-genre going – but often yields a kind of ‘huh?’ at the mismatch rather than the desired whoops. This film from writer-director-effects guy Ron Carlson is Spinal Tap vs Them, as washed-up hair band Sonic Grave take some peyote en route to a comeback desert festival gig – hustling manager Danny (Tom Arnold) has booked them into No-achella, the Slamdance to Coachella’s Sundance – and piss on (and off) ants which grow to giant size and attack them. It’s probably impossible to be broader and more cartoonish than the average glam-metal rocker, but Rhys Corio, Jake Busey, Leisha Hailey and Sean Astin give it their best shot as a bunch of self-involved clods and are occasionally amusing, though a late development where (as in Spinal Tap) the band gets back together in a sort of triumph (and a riff on Mars Attacks!) doesn’t really pay off since the film is too callous and flip to have any real emotional connection. Early on, there’s a neat bit as an apparent groupie (Sydney Sweeney, from Under the Silver Lake) freaks out puffed-up star Pager (Corio) by claiming to be his daughter, but her promising character fizzles after the one gag. The drugs are sold by guest stars Michael Horse and Danny Woodburn, whose wry double act could do with funnier lines. The effects are SyFy Channel standard CGI, with a lot of digital splatter and scurrying pixels – which makes you realise that this is a movie that aspires to the level of Sharknado (or, at least, a Lavalantula, a Big Ass Spider or an It Came From the Desert) and doesn’t quite get there. Oh, and – yes – there is a Pink Panther joke.
Here’s the FrightFest listing.
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