Director – Tony Randel
Cast – Seth Green, Alfonso Ribeiro, Rosalind Allen, Ami Dolenz, Virginya Keehne, Ray Oriel, Peter Scolari, Dina Dayrit, Michael Medeiros, Barry Lynch, Clint Howard
Release Year – 1994
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Horror fans are always searching for that missing gem. For me, it’s an enjoyable film from years past that I either never got the chance to see or just never heard of until now. That is the case with this 1994 film, Ticks. This creature feature, starring childhood notables Seth Green and Alfonso Ribeiro, surpassed my expectations by giving me everything I wanted to see: gore, cheese, and lots of action. If you’re in the zone for a creature feature this is one that I highly recommend.
Two social workers lead a group of teens from inner-city Los Angeles on a wildness expedition in an attempt to help them get back on track with life’s priorities. The group is failing in their attempt to bond with nature, and things only turn worse when they are bombarded with mutated wood ticks hungry for blood.
The story follows Tyler Burns (Seth Green; It, Idle Hands), an adolescent still suffering the effects caused by a camping accident that has left him scarred since childhood. Each of the campers has their own demons to face, and the most colorful of them is Darrel “They call me Panic because I don’t” Lumley, who is hilariously portrayed by Alfonso Ribeiro. Writer Brent V. Friedman wastes little time kicking off the first act, switching between the protagonist introductions and the events that lead to the tick infestation. The horror stems from marijuana growers using steroids to improve their crop, which in turn allows the ticks to grow at least 100 times their normal size. Ticks are known to be very hard to kill, which only makes matters worse for the ill-prepared campers. The first horror hits only 17 minutes in, and Friedman paces the film very well before going all-in about halfway through.
Director Tony Randel succeeds on all fronts here. He gets good performances from the actors involved, and for those of us who grew up in the 90s its really great to see Green and Ribeiro do their thing, especially Ribeiro. He is in stark contrast to his famed Carlton character, and he goes out in glorious fashion. If you are wondering how a bunch of ticks can cause extreme horror, just know that this effort gets it done. The horror grows insidiously as the film moves, with more and more ticks making their way towards the campers. There are scenes where we see dozens of ticks scurrying along the ground towards a fallen teen, and if you are fearful of “creepy crawlies” you’ll be left riddled with goosebumps. Starting off tame, the horror grows so intense that the final act results in an oozing, gore-soaked final act that left me grinning at the gem I had just come across.
Overall, Ticks is an awesome creature feature that I highly recommend to fans of the sub-genre.