Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer Shocks 1997: Mimic

Movies about bugs always get under my skin. One of the films from my childhood that traumatzied me the most was Bug (1975), directed by Jeannot Szwarc (responsible for some of the best Night Gallery episodes) and produced and written by horror icon William Castle (his last project before his death in '77, Bug's screenplay was based on the Thomas Page novel The Hephaestus Plague).

I haven't seen Bug since I was a kid but although I expect it would look awfully goofy to me now, back in the day the sight of a woman's head bursting into flames as a bug crawled into her hair and ignited it upset me to no end. The insect world is so freaky to begin with, if Bug told me that fire-farting cockroaches could be released from the Earth one day, I was ready to believe it.

So to sum up: bugs - a real source of anxiety for me (don't even get me started about the spiders in The Mist). Guillermo del Toro's Mimic isn't nearly as freaky as Bug but it's a very respectable addition to the sub-genre of insect horror. Released in the summer of '97 to little notice, it still hasn't been rediscovered - even with del Toro's name meaning much more now than it did in '97. The studio interference that del Toro faced on Mimic did take a toll on the finished film but for the most part, it's a creepy effort that's well worth appreciating.

For my full Summer Shocks review, click here.


FilmFather said...

While I don't remember loving Mimic, I do remember admiring del Toro's ability to create a creepy atmosphere, and not pull punches (i.e., the giant bug killing a kid).

However, I think del Toro blew a chance for a more awesome finale: When the subway car hits the bug in the final scene, he shouldn't have had it get dragged to pieces under the wheels -- he shoulda splattered it on the windshield!

Unknown said...

I'm eagerly anticipating Del Toro's special edition of this film which he has apparently been working on for some time. Rumor has it he's actually working on a new version of the film as the one that exists was mangled by studio interference. I actually quite like it but you can sorta tell in certain parts where it veers from Del Toro's usual preoccuaptions into safe, studio territory. Still, I thought Mira Sorvino was quite good in this film and I recall reading that she stood up for Del Toro against the Weinsteins and made sure that he wasn't fired. I have a lot of respect for her doing that.

Chris Regan said...

There's a lot I love about this film. Jeremy Northam is always ace. I like that the annoying kid dies pretty much straightaway. Mostly I liked the idea that people in big cities have become so desensitised now that these creatures could move around unnoticed. Great film.

Timmy Crabcakes said...

It's been a while but I remember liking this quite a bit... there are lots of little touches that set it apart... a big one for me being that (like others here mention) the story wasn't afraid to let kids be eaten as well. Not that I hate kids but it's such a rarity that whenever a film does that, such as the remake of The Blob, it puts me on notice that the monster really is that mean.

Jeff Allard said...

FF, your idea for the finale is genius! If only it had occured to del Toro!

J.D., I'm looking forward to that Special Edition, too. I don't think del Toro's version will turn the movie into a classic but I bet it'll be a stronger film, at least. Didn't know that about Sorvino standing up for del Toro. Sad how she's pretty much vanished from movies these days.

Chris, I agree. Mimic makes good use of the idea that in a big city it's easy for people - and giant bugs - to go unnoticed.

And Knob, I think everyone digs the fact that del Toro lets those kids get eaten early on. It definitely puts the viewer on notice that this movie isn't going to pull any punches. Of course, it does end up pulling some big punches (that Northam survives the big bang at the end is just laughable) but we can keep blaming the studio for that!