As the result of a local businessman illegally dumping toxic waste, the residents of a small desert town find themselves under attack by a swarm of giant mutated mosquitoes.
Though massive in the 50s, films about giant insects have never really made it back into the spotlight despite odd threats of resurgence every now and then. But in the glory days of the straight-to-video B movie market of the late 80s and early 90s, low budget creature feature films were all the rage. Be they Alien-style sci-fi horrors in outer space, post-apocalyptic creatures in futuristic landscapes or mutated monsters on the loose in small towns, it was a glory time for the video rental market. So in the early 90s, a handful of low budget giant insects films emerged and instantly reminded everyone of why there hadn’t been many of them made.
Skeeter is a pre-Sy Fy Channel flick before the company gained the monopoly on such rubbish monster movies. You know the score: small town, corrupt businessmen/scientists, monsters on the loose and any number of clichés regurgitated. Not only content with providing the heroes of the piece with a monster menace to face off against, these films also conjure up some human villains to bite into screen time and keep the plot focus firmly away from showing the monsters. In this case it’s a businessman and a corrupt sheriff but it could have been a mad scientist and mayor, a gangster and a doctor or any number of characters that crop up in these films. The bottom line is that providing a human villain allows the film to pad itself out greatly. He/she becomes the main focus and the monsters become almost secondary. That’s the case here as the mosquitoes get very little to do and it’s almost thirty minutes between the first attack and the next attack. There are a few numerous sub-plots (including the stereotypical big company trying to buy everyone out and cover it all up) and a lame romantic side story, which adds absolutely nothing to the film, except a non-graphic sex scene.
Though to say that there are big gaps between attacks, Skeeter seems to even make this time seem like an eternity with a pedestrian pace which just hinders any attempts to get any momentum injected into proceedings when the mosquitoes do attack. That said, when they do appear they look poor. Dragged along by invisible string, they are a far cry from the huge mosquito as pictured on the front cover and there aren’t that many of them. They’ve also got thermal vision (think Predator) which leads to a couple of POV attacks. A necessary ingredient of big bug flicks is to have plenty of goo and gunge when the bugs are destroyed and expect to see a decent amount of make-up effects as slime and all sorts of nasty fluids are dripped and splashed across the screen. It’s not an all-out gunk fest but does the job it needs to do.
Skeeter has little else going for it except Charles Napier who (surprise, surprise) plays the bad ass local sheriff. Napier can play these authority figures in his sleep and he’s on cruise control here. It’s a clichéd role but the rest of the parts are too. They’re so clichéd that the clichéd character is in danger of being a cliché itself! George ‘Buck’ Flower and Michael J. Pollard also appear in small roles, peppering the town with its customary collection of bums and weirdos to feed to the mosquitoes. I think back to the similarly-themed Mosquito which featured a throwaway but decent part for Gunnar Hansen (of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame) and played up the laughs and cheese a bit more and was infinitely more entertaining. Skeeter’s best hope would have been to turn itself into a light-hearted, self-aware romp instead of trying, and failing, to go down the serious route.
Never mind the giant mosquitoes – Skeeter alone will suck the life out of you. I don’t think it deserves the place it used to hold in IMDB’s Bottom 100 (it was there at time of original writing a few years ago) but it’s still pretty awful from the off.