DEADLY SCAVENGERS,the movie
DEADLY SCAVENGERS-10th Anniversary Edition
WHAT the critics are saying:
I know, I know; it’s not fair to knock a cheap indie effort for not having the coin to hire ILM for their FX work, but man oh man! I’ve seen video games with more ‘effective’ effects than what’s on display here. And I’m talking like Atari 2600 video games, not these new-fangled X-box thingies.
As I mentioned all the way back there, Deadly Scavengers sounds promising if you check the advertising (it mentions killer bugs, a cadre of hard-boiled commandos, a horrifying experiment gone horrifyingly wrong, and a shopping cart full of goopy gore), but the end result is a fairly drab affair. Obviously created by some dedicated pals with more inspiration than actual filmmaking skill, this flick rehashes the age-old ‘killer cockroach’ theme. Only this time around, the gig is mixed with a Dirty Half-Dozen of grimy commandos. Sounds half-fun in a cheeseball kinda way, right? Unfortunately, no.
The acting is atrocious across the board, which could be forgiven if at least the actors were awful with style, but that’s not nearly the case here. The closest Deadly Scavengers comes to ‘fun’ is when we’re visited by a goofily mismatched pair of FBI agents who are curiously tailing one of the laboratory-bound mercenaries. Oh yeah, the commandos are on their way to figure out why a secret lab has mysteriously ‘gone silent’. I forgot to mention that, but it has a whole lot to do with those damn man-eating cockroaches. E-Film Critic
When I was 12 years old, my friends and I took our then-state-of-the-art PolarVision instant video camera ($10 tape = 2 1/2 minutes of shooting time. No editing. No sound.)
We charged neighbors 25 cents to see our movies, and a nickel to play the Atari. Each movie would fund (we hoped) the ten bucks needed to buy the next tape. And thus we would waste a whole summer.
Perhaps our most popular film ever was not one of the myriad Star Wars figures stop-motion recreations, but rather our classic Invasion of the Giant Roaches, wherein several hundred roaches (captured and killed in our own vinegar traps) overtook a small town (actually a model train set) before the army (army figures, natch) came in and blew them all up (with firecrackers, of course).
Exploding bugs are great. But Ron Ford's (credits include Witchcraft XI and The Crawling Brain) Deadly Scavengers is one of the worst movies I've ever seen -- if not the worst movie ever made.
Those are fightin' words, sure, but I think I can back it up. For starters, I am reasonably sure the entire movie was shot in one afternoon. Ford might have shot another movie at the same time with a camera in his other hand, but I can't be sure. The acting here is about as bad as it gets, with wooden line readings being one thing and the atrocious dubbing being another. The editing and direction are even worse -- even a woman who pushes a guy out of a car can't get the move right and Ford isn't smart enough to enter the scene later in the action to make it look remotely realistic. And rather than actually drive an RV around while shooting a scene in the back of it, Ford closes all the curtains and just shakes the camera back and forth to give it the appearance of motion. No, Ron. No.
I'd go into the plot but I don't think there is one (bugs kill people, 'nuff said). I'd try to come up with something good to say, but I really don't want to deceive you. Or waste 88 minutes of your day.
I started looking at the glut of bad horror and sci-fi films that I see on a regular basis differently after watching the brilliant American Movie, the documentary of aspiring filmmaker Mark Borchardt and his attempt to get his low-budget horror film Coven made. I came away with a new respect for struggling directors working on shoestring budgets who are desperately trying to capture a vision that exists only in their mind, and I came to realize that even the most god-awful horror/sci-fi movie probably is someone's labor of love.
Which brings us to Ron Ford's killer bug flick, Deadly Scavengers, a film that is littered with just plain horrible acting and eye-rolling special effects. However, I couldn't help but think of Mark Borchardt and Coven as I watched this disc, and I wondered if Ford had the same kind of intended vision for his film, or if it was really supposed to be as bad as it appears. The disc lacks a commentary track, which either way would have probably been an insight into his intent; instead we're left with a film that is either intentionally funny or just badly made.
An isolated research lab is run by the paranoid Dr. Fielding (Stephen Jay Calvert), who is doing genetic research for a questionable pharmaceutical company. Fielding's research involves cockroaches, and somehow (it's never explained) the experiment results in a few man-sized bugs that have a taste for human flesh. When the lab is overrun, the pharmaceutical company sends in an army of mercenaries to clean up the mess before it can spread. The mercenaries are your usual mixed bag of assorted "specialists" (weapons, pyrotechnics, tracking), including a mysterious guy known as The Doctor, whose main weapon is (I kid you not) a bomb-tipped dart.
The story in Deadly Scavengers (which isn't that bad, in genre terms) would no doubt have been carried off better with a bigger budget, but director/writer Ford has to make do with what must have been very limited resources. He is stuck using the same bug effect shot a number of times, and its general tackiness is more apparent due to the amount of time it's used. When smaller roaches are shown scampering across a bloody corpse, the effect is so bad it makes the 1957 Bert Gordon classic The Beginning of the End look like a real-life nature film. The shaky camera inside the merc's camper, meant to simulate a moving vehicle, looks more like it was shot on the high seas, and may cause nausea in those viewers prone to sea-sickness.
For genre fans of blood, guts and skin, Ford supplies a lot of bug-induced gore in Deadly Scavengers, as well as a couple of sex scenes to try and liven things up a bit. The camp factor (intentional or not) is what might make this worth a look for low-low-budget aficionados.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: As with most self-respecting low-budget sci-fi horror films, Deadly Scavengers was shot on video, and the inconsistencies of that often unforgiving format are abundant here. Outdoor lighting levels are often quite harsh, resulting in colors that come across unnaturally, with fleshtones that occasionally turn bright white. There aren't really any exceptional moments, in terms of image quality, and the entire film just looks cheaply made.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: Eclectic has issued Deadly Scavengers with a PCM audio track, which unfortunately puts all of the dialogue into the left channel, and assorted ambient sounds out of the right. This creates a lopsided soundfield, but in all honesty doesn't detract too much from the low-budget wackiness. This isn't the kind of film that would have been helped by a better mix, though a more even distribution of the dialogue would have been nice.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Extras Review: There are only 6 chapters on this disc, and they constitute the only "extras" here. Considering the campy tone of Deadly Scavengers, I can only imagine how enjoyable a cast commentary would have been.
Extras Grade: D-
Deadly Scavengers is a campy, low-budget sci-fi film about mutated, flesh-eating roaches and a group of gun-toting mercenaries. The story itself is an interesting enough genre tale, and could have probably become a decent B-movie with a larger budget. The restraints of money unfortunately keep this one from being anything other than silly, laugh-in-your-beer entertainment.