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Skeeter (1993)

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The Doctor needs help

totals What's worse than a swarm of mosquitos on a hot summer night? A swarm of bloodthirsty, giant, killer mosquitos, that's what! Blame it on that illegal toxic waste dump near the old mine, the one run by a troll-like real estate developer named Drake (Jay Robinson, who played the evil Dr. Shrinker on TV's The Krafft Supershow). The evil Mr. Drake wants to turn the whole desert into one massive subdivision. Eventually, of course, the toxic sludge begins causing serious health problems in the once placid desert town of Clear Sky. After a slew of premature human and cattle deaths, deputy Roy Boone (Jim Youngs), a hunky GQ kind of guy who hangs out shirtlessly working on metal sculpture in his front yard, calls the Advanced Geologic Inspection Agency for a little official help. This causes a bit of friction with his boss, Sheriff Ernie Buckle (the great character actor Charles Napier) as he just happens to have a rather cozy business relationship with the unscrupulous developer. This is all familiar turf to Napier, whose breakthrough role came in 1969, when he played a corrupt desert sheriff in Russ Meyer's Cherry, Harry, and Raquel! Napier has also appeared in such drive-in classics as Supervixen, Beyond The Valley of the Dolls, The Blues Brothers and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, as well as countless other genre classics.

Also on hand is veteran character actor Michael J. Pollard as Hopper, the town weirdo who has a little too much empathy for the killer mosquitos. Rounding out the cast are Tracy Griffith (Melanie Griffith's half-sister) as Sarah Crosby, Deputy Boone's former flame; Saxon Trainer as sexy coroner Dr. Jill Wyle; and William Sanderson as the harried scientist trying to get to the bottom of the mysterious rash of deaths in Clear Sky. Of course, the biggest mystery of all may well be why so many people are moving to Clear Sky in the first place, given its remote location and the devastating mortality rate among the locals.
The makeup and special effects for this contemporary "insect fear" film was supervised by Frank Isaacs, who was responsible for creating and designing approximately 200 individual skeeters. Isaacs was also responsible for the special effects work on films like Alien Intruder, Cybertracker, and the previously-seen-on-Monstervision Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn (1983, costarring Richard Moll as a seven-foot, one-eyed mutant). By the way, these icky bloodsuckers were based on sketches and sculptures by Jaremy Aiello, who made sure they made a strong impression on the screen. "The little ones are about 6 inches long. Then there are the big beefy bugs that ram into you and knock you down. The main ones are 3 1/2 feet long and used for all the close-ups where mandibles tear into people's skin and rip bodies," he explained.

In an interview conducted by Anthony C. Ferrante for Fangoria Magazine, other details about the filming of Skeeter were revealed:
"In order to keep track of which models did what, the FX crew began naming them after famous comedy teams. Five motorized skeeters with flapping wings became the Marx Brothers, while two 20-inch-long, fully mechanized bugs with fully operational close-up mandibles were nicknamed Abbott and Costello. Even a Penn & Teller and Laurel & Hardy duo were initiated into the insect kingdom during the shoot.
"According to executive producer Don Edmonds (best known for directing the infamous Ilsa movies), the FX also include wax mosquitos filled with fake blood and methylcellulose for scenes where the bugs go splat, and a Skeeter-Cam that the crew utilized for insect point-of-view shots. 'It's a little helicopter, about 5 feet long and 150 pounds,' explains Edmonds. 'It carries a 200-foot load of film and can be operated from the ground with a remote.'" COOL! And now let's check out Joe Bob's drive-in totals for Skeeter:

We have:
Eight dead bodies.
Ten dead cattle.
Fifty dead mosquitoes.
Five giant mosquito attacks.
One motor vehicle chase, with cliff plunge.
One bad peyote trip.
One giant dead mosquito splattered on a windshield.
One fistfight.
One gun battle.
Exploding mine, with fireball.
Gratuitous Michael J. Pollard.
Kung Fu.
Taser Fu.
Blowtorch Fu.
Skeeter Fu.
I'll give it about, oh, two stars. Check it out, and we'll be hanging around during the breaks, giving you some tips on how to kill insects in a way that is the MOST painful to the insect.

As you know, we here at "MonsterVision" LOVE Dead Cow movies, and tonight we have one of the classics -- "Skeeter," the sensitive tale of giant mosquitoes that live in an underground mine and dive-bomb cattle and tourists and eat their faces off so that an evil developer can buy cheap land. Sure we've seen it before, but have we seen it with the great Charles Napier as the sheriff?
I think not.
And speaking of matters bucolic, I have a question. How come when I'm here in El Lay, or New York City, or Chicago -- every time I go to one of these big concrete cities, I always find these HUGE markets where they sell 947 kinds of fresh vegetables and fruits? BUT, if I go to West Texas, or northern Florida, or New Mexico, or rural Iowa, where they GROW THE STUFF, I can't find diddly squat. How can this be? I mean, you can go into a grocery store in, say, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which is right smack dab in the middle of one of the richest agricultural areas in America, and you can't even find fresh CARROTS. All you can find is these plastic bags from Arizona or somewhere with rubbery denture destroyers inside. And you can grow a carrot ANYWHERE. Heck, I can grow a carrot, and I can't grow ANYTHING. You can go to a grocery store in Biloxi, Mississippi, and find a larger selection of frozen macaroni-and-cheese dinners than fresh fruit, even though you're standing in one of the few areas of the South where they can grow fresh fruit almost year round. Yet you can go to Union Square in New York City in the middle of January and find some guy who's set up wooden crates on the back of a pickup, selling fresh avocados.
What's going on here?
I went to a grocery store in San Angelo, Texas, where the fruit was so pitiful it got immediate SCARS on it when you picked it up. And there's NOTHING TO DO THERE EXCEPT FARM AND RANCH. So my question is, how is it possible that everything in the country that's fresh is trucked 1100 miles a day to urban health-food stores, and everything that's frozen, canned, packed with preservatives, and designed to be eaten with Doritos and moon pies, is trucked in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION to the places where the wholesome, robust farmers are supposed to be living? Shouldn't it be the opposite? Shouldn't it be the people in the cities who are fat and under-nourished? But it's not. Wanna find some excellent junk food? Wanna find the world's largest supply of frozen dinners? Go to a FARM! Which is basically what we're gonna do now as we watch the sensitive story of a mild-mannered motorcycle-riding outdoor sculptor and deputy sheriff in a little desert town who's still in love with the girl who left him years ago, but meanwhile he's gotta deal with these bodies that keep turning up on the country roads, victims of random attacks by enormous aggressive flesh-chewing blood-suckers. You're gonna enjoy this one. Go.

[fading] You know what the number one soybean-producing state is? Arkansas. You know what soybeans are used for? Tofu. Just TRY to find a tofu-burger in Arkansas. Now pig meat, THAT you can find. Cause they're number one in hogs, too. If they could just find a way to serve tofu on the side, with their instant-heart-disease ham dinner.

"SKEETER" Commercial Break #1

Whoa! Stop with the plot already. We got way too much plot getting in the way of the story here. We got big barrels being unloaded off trucks into an abandoned mine, and some kinda conspiracy involving Mr. Drake, and then we got the guy who runs out of the shed and runs his motorcycle off the cliff but we don't know why, and we got the sensitive deputy sheriff who does metal sculptures in his garden, and his pony-tailed Indian sidekick partner who does too much peyote, and Dorothy who's worried about her boys, and the Crosby funeral, and Sarah the beautiful redhead that Roy used to be in love with and still is but she went away, and dead cattle, and dead people, and Michael J. Pollard wanderin around spouting weird sayings, and a new subdivision being built by a crazed man in a white limo, and quirky water inspector, and a sheriff who acts mean to outsiders, and Laura's daddy who's sad because he's being pressured to move, and some hand-holding between Roy and Sarah, and an Indian ritual, and contaminated water holes, and right in the middle of this you've got the one thing we WANTED to see -- a giant mosquito attack. Without knowing anything, I can tell you EXACTLY what's going on here. It's one of those directors who said, "Well, it's not REALLY a horror movie. It's a drama, with horror elements." Why do they do this? Why do they RUIN perfectly good movies by thinking they're Ingmar Bergman? Okay, back to it

[fading] If you're gonna advertise a movie like this, let's eat some face, okay? The name of the movie is not "The Mosquito Chronicles." Is it? It's "SKEETER"!

"SKEETER" Commercial Break #2

All right. Important mosquito facts. You need to know this to fully appreciate "Skeeter." There are how many species of mosquitoes in the known world? Anybody, just shout it out. That's right: 2700. Average weight of a mosquito: 2 milligrams. That's about the weight of a piece of pocket fuzz. Average "serving"? How much can they suck? Five microliters. Or, five millionths of a liter. Average flying speed: 1 mile per hour. Life span: 15 to 65 days. Many of em die young. Look at the chances they take. They go to family reunion picnics all the time. They can detect a suckable human from up to 25 to 30 meters away. Why are we using the metric system here? How far is that? About 40 -- long way away. Mosquito eggs can be dormant for a whole year, and they only hatch when you flood em with water. And did you know this? Males never suck. Only females suck. Males just eat plants, like NORMAL insects. And most important, the plural of mosquito is spelled m-o-s-q-u-i-t-o-E-s. Are you listening, Dan Quayle? Now I think you'll be better equipped to know what the mutant mosquito is going through when you see the upcoming Skeeter-Cam -- the story told from the mosquito's point of view, in "Skeeter."

[fading] Oh yeah, this next scene -- I love this, because it features two of the greatest weirdos working in modern cinema, doing a scene TOGETHER. It's William Sanderson, best known as Larry of "Larry, Darrell and Darrell" on The Newhart Show, he's been making a whole heck of a lot of B movies, all of which turn up on MY show. And the scene is with the great loonie, Michael J. Pollard. So we've got double the psycho energy going on here. Watch this

"SKEETER" Commercial Break #3

So now we got the whole Roy-and-Sarah love story subplot actors are Jim Youngs and Tracy Griffith. And when they were making the movie, Tracy gave an interview to Fangoria Magazine -- and by the way, I wanna thank the guys at Fangoria. Lot of times, people write in and say, "Joe Bob, how do you know all that TRIVIA about the movies?" And one good reason is my buddies at Fangoria, who eat, live and breathe horror movies 24 hours a day -- they know everything, and they'll send me information about em. Pick up a copy of Fangoria, the granddaddy of all horror film magazines, very entertaining. Anyhow, Tracy Griffith gives this interview to Fangoria where she says, "The real message of this movie is that you have to see what's going on around you -- this COULD happen." She believes that giant mosquitoes could happen, and she uses the Chernobyl nuclear accident as an example of just how wacky nature can be. There were three-headed catfish all over that lake in Russia. So anyway, Tracy's really into her role here, which is as it should be. Personally, I'd like to see a little more blood-sucking and a little less of the scenes where Tracy says, "I don't know, Roy, something's CHANGED here. Something's DIFFERENT." We get it, okay? Go.

[fading] Fangoria was the first of the gopher-guts magazines. They would run these pictures of gross-out special effects that only last about two seconds on screen, but you could buy the magazine and put the color pictures up on your wall and make your sister puke. It's great.

"SKEETER" Commercial Break #4

That was the famous Mosquito Vision shot, where we see the hapless victim AS he's being dive-bombed by the killer skeeter. That's outstanding. I do like that. They used a little helicopter to do that. Helicopter about five feet long and 150 pounds that they could operate with a remote control, and it carried a 200-foot load of film. Very cool. Unfortunately, we have no idea where the cackling maniac joyrider came from, and why he's arguing with his Daisy Mae girlfriend out in the middle of the desert. They keep introducing new characters. There must be 340 characters in this movie. Where did Luther come from? The old guy who gives up and leaves his land. And is it my imagination or did Buck Flower tell a flashback story about getting attacked by a giant mosquito while he was fishing in a swamp? Now we've got FLASHBACKS. I HATE flashbacks. All right, come on, let's go. Move it.

[fading] How many characters did Aristotle say you should have in a classic plot? Guys? I believe that would be . . .THREE. Some people disagree. This guy disagrees. Who are we to judge? Aristotle's "Poetics." It's a page-turner.

"SKEETER" Commercial Break #5

Those giant mosquitoes are pretty dang cheesy, aren't they? Looks like big plastic Cootie sets they glue on the actor's faces. Anyhow, I meant to mention before that the sheriff is played by Charles Napier. We had Charlie on this show last summer when we were showing "Blues Brothers" and he talked about those mosquitoes, how they were melting in the sun and everything. Anyway, Charlie Napier started out in the early sixties doing ultra-cheapie flicks for Russ Meyer, some of em X-rated. And then he's gradually moved up through the food chain. He made "Rambo" in 1985 -- he was Murdoch, the guy who was tracking down Stallone. And then he actually had the lead in "The Night Stalker" in 1987. And I don't care what he does, it's always a great performance. He can be the meanest man alive -- he's got that Jack Warden sneer, big brawny guy, got that amazing jaw. All right, the giant mosquitoes just killed the hitmen, which is good because it means two less characters to keep track of. Back to the movie.

[fading] What's that movie where Charles Napier stomps a gal to death in the bathtub? "Vixen"? "Supervixen"? "Beyond the Valley of the Ultra-vixens"? I can never keep my vixens straight. "Abbott and Costello Have Sex with a Vixen." That was in Russ's declining years. When he was running out of ideas for the franchise.

"SKEETER" Commercial Break #6

Are you ready? Are you ready for the greatest giant mosquito attack sequence ever filmed? Of course, ALL the giant mosquito attack sequences ever filmed are in this one movie. Still, they tried. They did the best they could. This was the directing debut of Clark Brandon, an actor-turned-director, and he only had a couple million bucks to work with, and so the special effects are a little on the flimsy side, but he tried. He had all kinds of skeeter models. The biggest ones, the ones you're about to see in the scenes coming up, were three and a half feet long. Of course,that's the limitation of a low-budget movie, cause in Texas we've SEEN mosquitoes that big. I have two questions before we watch the thrilling conclusion of "Skeeter." First, if you're gonna make a movie about killer mosquitoes, why wouldn't you make it somewhere like Louisiana or Mississippi, some humid and swampy and WET place. Why would you make it out in the desert? And two: How come nobody in the movie ever puts on insect repellent? Just asking. Go. That's all.

[fading] Don't you just love the feel of sticky smelly insect repellent all over your arms and legs? Really helps you enjoy that baseball game, doesn't it? "Oh excuse me, I'm sorry, half the popcorn in your bag just got stuck to my elbow. Pardon me."


Aaaaah, isn't that sweet? Roy and Sarah are gonna get married and live in the little pitiful desert town together for the rest of their lives. I have to say, that final mosquito attack on Charles Napier was about the funniest thing I've ever seen. Whew! It's a plastic thingy stuck on his face. So much for the classic nineties horror flick, "Skeeter." They had hopes of a "Skeeter 2," but I DON'T THINK SO. All right, next week we'll be featuring the rarely seen Company of Wolves on "MonsterVision." The only combination fairy tale-monster movie that I know. Kind of an arty British thing. "Little Red Riding Hood" with blood and guts. You kinda have to see it. That's it for me, though, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you to drink till she's cute, but stop before the wedding.

You guys hear about the man who buys a new BMW? He's out on the interstate for a nice evening drive. The top is down, the breeze is blowing through his hair, he decides to open her up. As the needle hits 80, he sees flashing red and blue lights behind him. Guy thinks, "There's no way they can catch a BMW," so he opens her up further. Needle hits 90, 100 . . . then the reality of the situation hits him and he pulls over. The cop comes up to him, takes his license, examines it, looks at the car. Cop says, "It's been a long day, this is the end of my shift, and it's Friday the 13th. I don't feel like more paperwork, so if you can give me an excuse for you driving that I haven't heard before, you can go." The guy thinks for a second and says, "Last week my wife ran off with a cop. I was afraid it was you and you were trying to give her back." Cop says, "Have a nice weekend."

Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die.

[fading] An old man and his hard-of-hearing wife are driving outside of their home state. They're pulled over by a state trooper who says "License and registration please."
Old woman says to her husband "What did he say?" Husband says, "HE WANTS TO SEE MY LICENSE." Officer says, "I see you live in Texas. Nice state." Wife says, "What did he say?" He says, "HE SAID WE LIVE IN A NICE STATE!" Officer then turns to the man, "I had the worst night of sex in my life one time in Texas." And again the wife says, "What did he say?" Husband says, "HE THINKS HE KNOWS YOU."

Skeeter (1993)

Last seen on a Turner channel March 18, 2000, Rating: TV-14-LV.
Skeeter is available on video
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Joe Bob's review of Alien Intruder starring Billy Dee Williams and the nekkid Tracy Scoggins

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