Ticks (1993)

A group of troubled teenagers is sent on a trip to the forest together with two social workers for a sort of psychotherapeutical vacation. To their detriment, their cabin is located amidst illegal Marijuana farms. An even bigger detriment is the leakage of steroids that are used to speed up growth of the Marijuana plants, and which have literally monstrous effects on the local ticks population. Confronted with an army of giant ticks drawn to human blood, a wildfire, and lunatic Marijuana farmers, the group faces death on several fronts.

Brian Yuzna and Tony Randel, who both earned a reputation for graphic creature special effects in the early 90s, teamed up for this entry to the monster movie genre, and the subgenre of insect horror, in particular. We’ve had roaches, slugs, spiders and ants before as antagonists from the insect world, but few insects are perceived as disgusting and dangerous as ticks, especially if they’re the size of a tennis ball.

There’s not much plot, and the protagonists are fairly one-dimensional characters with occasional irritating and hysterical behavior. That is intended to some extent, I believe, as the real star of the movie are the special effects crew and their six-legged creations. And as usual, it makes it a lot easier for the audience to applaud the untimely demise of obnoxious personas. The prosthetic and creature effects are top notch, and are able to evoke disgust whenever a human host gets attacked. There’s plenty of blood and torn skin, and a particularly gruesome scence during the climax when the super size queen/king of ticks carves itself out of a dead human body.

Having been exposed to steroids (represented by green goo in the movie) used to boost Marijuana production, the ticks are fast, strong, and big. They also explode when being lit on fire, that must be a side effect of the exposure to steroids. The whole thing of steroids being used for growing Marijuana faster adds a nice extravagant touch to the movie in any case. And it may be a convenient way of warning against the dangers of both Marijuana and steroid consumption at the same time.

Ticks is a pretty silly movie with some great creature special effects and a lot of blood and goo, which more than compensate for the lackluster presentation of pretty much everything else.