I’m sure you’re already wondering why my review title says Big Bad Bugs when the key art pictured to the left says The Vortex. Well, I know I need to do some explaining here, but really this is just another example of how hard it is to get your movie out to the public when working in Hollywood. Supernova Films Inc. went into production of The Vortex in 2012 with hopes of getting it on the SyFy Channel. Unfortunately, the channel decided to go in a different direction with its schedule and line-up and The Vortex was left to fend for itself. Years later, it has re-emerged under the name Big Bad Bugs. It is re-vamped, re-edited and looking to hit DVD shelves domestically later this year.
Big Bad Bugs is written and directed by Peter Paul Basler with Cary Anderson. It was produced by Damiano Tucci (“Sunset Tan”) and Antonio Sciafani (“So You Think You Can Dance”) and features cinematography from 3-Headed Shark Attack‘s Alexander Yellen. Cast members include Jack Plotnick (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Joan of Arcadia,” “Reno 911”), Sarah Lieving (The Beast of Bray Road, The Dunwich Horror, Super Shark), Camden Toy (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2), Randy Clark (Holla 2, “Saturday Night Love”), Kris Wheeler (“Chicago Fire,” Open House), Ted Jonas, Bo Kane, Devon Ogden, Randy Clark Steve Silvere and Tyler McGee.
“When a convoy of American soldiers disappears in the Mideast, a Special OPS team is deployed on a search and rescue mission. They encounter mega scorpions, giant spiders and oversized snakes – which were created when a former government scientist opened a vortex into another dimension. Now, the team must figure out a way to close the wormhole. But can they close it in time?”
Anyone who reads my reviews will know that I’m a sucker for a CGI creature-feature, although I have to admit films of this nature aren’t always the most visually and mentally pleasing. Luckily, Big Bad Bugs is a different species of animal – no pun intended – and has several big reasons as to why it may be more enticing to action-horror viewers than a title like Sharknado. First, since I mentioned it above, Big Bad Bugs contains a lot of CGI creatures and I think the quality of the computer generated monsters is a little higher here than in other SyFy Channel-bound movies. When it comes to this title, the CGI is much better during closer shots, but dips in quality when switching to long shorts are shots that are further away. The quality in hokey-ness changes as well, with some giant bugs looking top notch and others looking like clip-art. I can only imagine how much fun the cast and crew had performing in front of a green screen or just acting with enormous creatures that weren’t really there.
Another thing that I liked about Big Bad Bugs is that it doesn’t try to be super serious. A lot of other films in its category, I’m sorry, try to be so serious even though they’re badly acted movies featuring shark throwing tornadoes or robot snakes fighting cyber scorpions. In the case of Big Bad Bugs, I think the men and women working behind the scenes fully understood their project and decided to make it campy and comedic on purpose instead of shoving non-existent suspense down the viewers throats. This made my viewing more enjoyable because I was able to laugh along with the movie instead of laughing at it. Big Bad Bugs also chose a definite route and stuck with it, and I mean in terms of genre. This is 100% an scifi-thriller and one that was thoroughly developed more than, “Oh my God! There’s a giant hamster attacking the city! No time to explain!” Peter Paul Basler and Cary Anderson added a lot of extra layers to this baby with radiation, alien crystals and wormholes. And let me not forget to mention sandstorms that are capable of melting people and machinery.
As a production, Big Bad Bugs has a some give and take, but over-all it’s pretty solid. One of its stand out qualities is the cinematography from Alexander Yellen, which is absolute fantastic and crystal clear. The plot is kind of vague – creature features like this love pairing the military against super creatures – and we’ve seen a lot of it before, however, without giving anything I way I can confirm that Big Bad Bugs has a few surprise twists that you will not see coming! There are some audio and sound effect problems that I noticed, which is unfortunate because I hate anything that takes away from the actors’ performances here. All of the main and supporting players are so seasoned, so talented and a lot of them had great chemistry on camera together. Speaking of which, Big Bad Bugs also has a little romance in it. Who doesn’t like a little flirtation and romance against burly soldiers shooting up giant scorpions?! This is movie you should watch for pure entertainment value, not if you’re looking to heavily critique a movie…like me.
Big Bad Bugs is a scifi-thriller with heart, muscle and tail! It’s got action, romance and comedy! A super hybrid in a lackluster genre, no question about it. And bigger the bugs, bigger the guns! I definitely had a fun late night viewing. I can’t wait until you guys get the opportunity to check it out, too. Final Score: 7 out of 10