Giant Killer Ants (formerly known as Dead Ant) mixes creature feature tropes with more than a little crude humour and is ideal midnight movie fare.
Synopsis: The 1989 ‘one-hit-wonder’ glam-metal band Sonic Grave embark on a trip to the No-chella rock festival with their long-suffering manager in the hopes of a comeback. Making a detour to Joshua Tree to score some peyote, their carefree psychedelic pit stop soon upsets the balance of desert nature and they find themselves fighting an army of flesh-eating ants.
I have to admit that when I received the screener for Giant Killer Ants, I did a fair amount of eye-rolling. This did not change when the opening minutes of the film feature a woman being pursued by a giant ant and shedding her clothes (presumably for streamlining/faster running reasons, who knows?!). Happily, the rest of the film improves substantially and is a great deal of fun. The core cast of band members are all well-pitched, if broad characterisations, with Tom Arnold’s frantic and frustrated band manager Danny being a particular highlight. Jake Busey’s Bret Michaels-alike Merrick is also a lot of fun and there isn’t really a weak link within the cast, even for those not given as much to do.
The film follows a fairly classic creature feature model in that people inevitably do something stupid and largely selfish, resulting in nature revolting in revenge. In search of new creativity, band member Stevie (Leisha Hailey) purchases some peyote from Bigfoot (Twin Peaks’ Michael Horse), who warns her that the band will have a good trip, provided they don’t cause any damage to anything around them. Predictably, the selfish, ‘legends in their own minds’ band members take about two minutes to flout this rule and we get started with the killer ant business. Bigfoot and his sidekick Firecracker (Danny Woodburn) soon realise what has happened and set off to protect the festival goers from the hoard of ants on route to Nochella. Horse and Woodburn are clearly having a lot of fun in their roles which adds a lot of enjoyment to it.
The moments of gore rely a little too heavily on CGI for my liking, but, on the other hand, anything too lingering or detailed would take away from the fairly light-hearted tone the film has. The humour is exactly what you would expect from a film following an 80s rock band but their peyote-driven song genuinely made me laugh a lot, as did a number of the one liners.
If you enjoy your big killer animal films with a big dose of silliness, Giant Killer Ants is definitely worth checking out when it arrives on digital tomorrow (Monday June 17th) through Frightfest Presents.