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Bite Me!
cast: Misty Mundae, Julian Wells, Rob Monkiewicz, Michael R Thomas, and Caitlin Ross

writer and director: Brett Piper

88 minutes (R) 2004 eIndependent /
Shock-O-Rama DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Ian Shutter
It's more difficult than it looks to make a cult movie. The received wisdom is that filmmakers cannot do it knowingly, or by design. Genuine cult movies are nearly always like accidents of birth. Indie filmmakers are trying harder than ever to get all the right ingredients together in low budget productions but there's simply no magic formula for cult success. The market calls the shots every time. Audiences decide what's probably in and what's definitely out, not filmmakers, critics or the publicity gonks.

Occasionally, Bite Me! (from the director of recent schlock hit Shock-O-Rama) looks like a cult movie ought to look. It demonstrates the right dance moves and seems to have the correct attitudes (zany irreverence, off-kilter plotting, a weird or spectacular mix of cross-genre elements), but it fails the acid test, and falls at too many hurdles because it's busy looking backward over its shoulder all the time. While it tries so bloody hard to be a film worthy of cult-hood, Bite Me! lacks sufficient originality, imagination, or borderline-sanity appeal to escape the mighty-sucking swampland forming the grey area separating tawdry nonsense from movie magic.

Alongside bespectacled Trix (Erika Smith), and laidback pothead Amber (Caitlin Ross), Crystal (Misty Mundae) is one of the overworked 'dancers' at a sparsely attended out-of-town nightclub run by sleazy yet sympathetic Ralph (Michael R. Thomas). Ralph's hush-hush brokerage for a stash of GM marijuana brings major trouble for all concerned because a horde of bloodthirsty mutant spider-like ticks have made their nest in the crates of pot, and start attacking the club's staff and customers alike. Blood splatter is very bad for business, especially the backroom sort of business that attracts the attention of certifiably crazy federal agent Myles McCarthy (John Paul Fedele)...

Supposedly discreet exterminator 'Buzz' O'Reilly (Rob Monkiewicz) is called in to handle the poisonous infestation, but not before the fist-sized bugs' narcotic bite has infected the feisty barmaid-come-bouncer Gina (Sylvianne Chebance), and ball-breaking wannabe gangster Teresa (Julian Wells), turning the sexy but straight Gina into a lesbian whore, and overcoming the usually strait-laced Teresa's inhibitions about pole-dancing on stage.

Skittering about in the strip club's dank cellars, dusty outhouses, and ladies' toilets, the engorged bugs acquire a taste for living human flesh, as well as eagerly devouring the squashed remains of their dead spawn. The affectionate spoofing of Corman style B-movie themes develops, eventually, into a more direct imitation of those 1950s' monster movies, evidenced by one character's transformation into fanged fiend, and a throwaway reference to Tarantula (1955), early in the film, becomes dramatic affirmation in the very final twist of Bite Me!

The visual and prosthetic effects of this film range from delightfully unconvincing to impressively shoddy. Much is forgivable, really, though, considering the variety wide of routinely cheesy CGI, stop-motion animation, and grisly special make-up that's involved here. I have seen far worse effects in other horrors of no-budget Z-grade, dwelt upon with unforgivably longer screen-time than the big bad bugs get in Bite Me! As the gun-toting heroine, Misty Mundae (a six-year veteran of about 50 movies at age 25!), keeps some of the less experienced performers in line and on track. Without irony, she provides the still-beating heart and found-not-lost soul of the new century cinema's best trashy exploitation. Bite Me! is not cultworthy, but it is worthwhile as tepid entertainment if you are a dedicated fan of Corman's unique brand of undemanding and shrewdly humorous movies.

DVD extras: a making-of short, a featurette on stunt work for the car crash scene, footage about the world premiere of Bite Me! at the Festival Of Fear (in Toronto), an interview with Misty Mundae, a music video (plus making-of piece), and an eight-page insert-booklet with film notes by Merle Bertrand.

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