Killer bug movies have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, so it’s was with no small amount of joy that I reacted to news that Scream Factory would be releasing the splat-tastic killer roach flick, The Nest, on Blu-ray, giving my decade old (and, if I’m being honest, completely rubbish quality) New Concorde DVD a much deserved reprieve! This “House of Corman” production has all of the hallmarks of a low-budget bug fest, but it rises above its monetary limits with some good scares, extravagant gore effects, and an engaging storyline that may have influenced more than a few bigger budget films of the same variety (more on that later).
Welcome to North Port; population 700. This idyllic island off the New England coast oozes with a Rockwellian charm that the annual throng of summer holidaymakers can’t resist. While, on the surface, North Port looks to be gearing up for yet another profitable tourist season, in reality, the island is in a bad way financially, and it’s been that way for a long time. That’s why, a few years prior, North Port’s mayor, Elias Johnson (Robert Lansing), struck a deal with INTEC; a research firm who’ve taken up residence on a remote part of the island to conduct “research” in exchange for investing in North Port’s future. While the islanders know of INTEC, no one really knows just what it is they’re up to, and the mayor and his business partners are determined to keep it that way. However, when a dog carcass is found freshly stripped to the bone on INTEC land by the mayor’s own visiting daughter, Elizabeth (Lisa Langlois), she and her former flame (and current North Port sheriff), Richard Tarbell (Franc Luz), start asking questions. Richard, thinking that the culprit was some savage predator, wants to organize a hunting party to see if they can track it down before it strikes again, but Mayor Johnson knows better, and insists they leave it up to INTEC to investigate. This doesn’t sit well with Richard and Elizabeth, especially when INTEC send along their envoy, Dr. Morgan Hubbard (Terri Treas); a genetic engineer whose very presence raises more questions than it answers.
Richard accompanies Hubbard and Mayor Johnson to the spot where Elizabeth found the dog, and watches as Hubbard autopsies the animal with ghoulish enthusiasm. Richard is called away by his dispatcher, leaving Hubbard and Johnson to their own devices, while Elizabeth decides to do her own investigating, and ventures into the seaside caves on INTEC’s side of the island. It’s here that Elizabeth finds a collection of odd equipment and bizarre organic structures hanging from the cave ceiling. Before she can investigate further, however, she’s chased out of the cave by an unseen creature. Hubbard, meanwhile, verifies what the mayor’s feared all along; the dog was killed by the very creatures he agreed to allow INTEC to breed and research on his island – a genetically modified cockroach specifically created to devour other cockroaches before dying out after a single generation. The strain, however, has since mutated, and has now, apparently, developed an insatiable appetite for flesh and blood!
The Nest is a much-loved cult cheapie and one of my personal favorite films to come out of New Horizons as, despite the occasionally obvious budgetary restraints, the film is actually quite polished! Director, Terence H. Winkless (Bloodfist/co-writer of The Howling), put together a likeable, attractive cast of both new blood (Luz and Langlois) as well as great character actors like Lansing and Diana Bellamy, and crafted a bargain-basement Amity Island aesthete despite never leaving the mainland. The scripts a bit rough, but its teeming with laugh-out-loud funny jokes of the intentional variety, while the gruesome special effects work by James M. Navarra adds to the laugh quotient with some truly over-the-top splatter. It’s a fun flick that borrows from a lot of different films, but I’m pretty sure this film also had a few of its best bits borrowed by some better known, bigger-budgeted bug-centric films that came along after, including Mimic and Arachnophobia (watch "Homer", the pest control specialist, and see if the character reminds you of anyone).
Scream Factory presents The Nest in a Blu-ray/DVD combo set. The film is presented in a 1.78:1 transfer, which is much preferable to the old full-frame DVD transfer! Image quality is very impressive, overall, with a crisp and clean transfer that sports a welcome sheen of cinematic grain and pretty impressive clarity. Blacks are deep and true, and colors are vibrant. The accompanying 2.0 DTS Master Audio soundtrack is more than adequate, but, according to the menu, there’s a 5.1 option, as well, but I wasn’t able to select it. I later found others reviewing the disc had the same problem, so I’m assuming it’s an oversight on Scream Factory’s part. It’s really no big shakes to me, anyway, as I always opt for the track closest to the original source, and, in this case, that’d be 2.0! Still, just had to point that out ya’ll.
This is not one of the company’s collector’s edition offerings, sadly, so, in terms of bonus features, we get an entertaining and self-effacing commentary track by Winkless, but not much else (unless you’re a fan of chapter selections!). Still, don’t let that detract you from picking this one up! If you haven’t seen The Nest, you’re in for a gory, goofy treat, and, if you’re already a fan, you’ll be totally won over by Scream Factory’s treatment of the film on Blu-ray as it’s a massive improvement over the New Concorde DVD! Definitely recommended!