|My VHS Screener Copy of Ticks|
Directed by: Tony Randel
Aaaahhh Ticks. What a wonderful little surprise. A friend sent me this VHS tape a while back, knowing I would probably dig it, and he was right. I've come across this cover before, more than likely from the video store when they were actually video stores. But it wasn't until my buddy got this in my hands did I realize that it was directed by Hellraiser II: Hellbound director Tony Randel. Hellbound just so happens to be my all-time favorite Hellraiser film in the series so yes, I got really, really excited.
An illegal marijuana facility using steroids to enhance the growth of the plants cause ticks to mutate into gigantic and super-powered proportions. When a group of troubled teens set up camp in the woods close to the facility for a weekend as part of a youth camp program, the ticks begin taking them one by one and it's up to the remaining few to fight back.
Going in I was fairly certain this was going to be a low-budget cheesefest. I mean, how could it not right? But I don't think I was prepared for how entertaining, cheesy, and awesome this would ultimately be. How awesome is it? Well, how about Alfonso Ribiero playing a gangster thug circa the early 90's. That's how awesome. Yes, he does and it's fucking hilarious. But wait! Seth Green is also in this, and even Amy Dolenz, who's face is plastered on the cover but is nothing more than a minor character in the actual film. Ticks also has a healthy dose of noticeable character actors, including the one and only Clint Howard, to fill out the remaining ensemble cast.
One of the things that makes Ticks shine is it's outstanding use of practical effects work. Honestly, some of the stuff in here is pretty incredible and I struggle to understand how they were able to pull it off when most big budget studio's still can't get it right, even when they rely on CGI. If you're like me, then watching a low-budget cheesy horror movie made decades ago pull off what big budget studio's "still" can't is pretty infuriating. But let's move on.
I will admit that while Randel does a fine job in the director's chair, it doesn't carry the same bravado or magic that he displayed with his work on Hellbound. And I think that's really maybe my one and only complaint; that his visual eye candy just wasn't on par with that excellent work he did prior to this. But really, it's just me. I'm a very visual person. Everything else kicks all kinds of awesome ass. It's fun, funny, scary, gory, creepy, cheesy, and most importantly, it's entertaining as hell.
I really can't recommend this enough. There's really nothing better than watching a cheesy early 90's low-budget horror film with a group of enthusiastic friends, and to have that film be as good and entertaining as this film was. It's a rarity and if that same mood should ever strike you, I implore you to check this one out. I'm sure you'll have just as good a time as I did watching it.
How to see it:
The 2013 OOP DVD and Blu ray from Olive Films is insanely expensive here in the U.S., running anywhere from $50-$100 on average. As far as I know, it's not available to stream anywhere, so your cheapest route would definitely be the VHS. While it would be in full frame, you're not missing out on anything seeing it that way. It's not much of a visual film in that sense, so don't be like me and think you automatically have to see everything in widescreen, the way the filmmakers intended. I'm slowly starting to realize that some films are just better on a full frame VHS format. It makes the experience much more authentic....to me anyway. The VHS will run you around $10-$15, which isn't too bad at all.