Marabunta! Man-Eating Ants
This is the threat that terrorises a small town in the movie Marabunta. Killer ants, baby. Do you feel that? It’s called fear. Teeth-chattering, knee-knocking, pant-wetting fear.
Wait, what do you mean you’re not scared?
Oh, right. Because they’re fucking ants. Not even the giant mutant kind either. I’m talking about the regular kind; the kind you don’t even notice unless you’re having a picnic or burning them up with a magnifying glass. Yet somebody actually thought it would be a good idea to make a horror movie about the bugs you don’t care about. At mosquitoes and cockroaches are a nuisance. Ants are…ants.
This idiotic movie is one of the many fine cinematic offerings from SABC1, home of the crappy, crappy movie (it’s a title it shares with e-tv actually). Catching a glimpse of this while channel-surfing, I was powerless to resist its cheesy badness. I was not disappointed. It was hilariously abominable. Talk about putting the ass in disaster movie.
Marabunta (Amazon Indian for ‘tapir excrement’) centres around an entymo… etamolo… etimoligi…bug expert (played by that one guy in Caroline from the City) who finds out that killer ants are infesting the land around a small town. Of course, being from LA, he is mistrusted by the hick locals who don’t believe his big city proclamations. Until the killer ants start living up to their name and killing people. Then it’s up to the bug expert and a motley crew of townsfolk to eliminate the ants before they reach civilisation. Yep, the ants are heading towards Anchorage, and they’ll be there within a month. Why no-one thinks notifying the authorities so they can aerially spray the swarm with pesticide is a mystery.
The scares, if you can call them that, come from the many close-up shots of the ants that are probably lifted directly from David Attenborough documentaries, and some bad special effects of ants crawling on people. Watch in horror as ants get in a guy’s mouth so he crashes a plane! Or ants swarm over a cow that’s been stripped of meat! Those aren’t the only thrills, it’s also got plenty of action. Our heroes constantly find themselves in danger of being eaten by the ants. Excitement comes in the form of our heroes spraying bug spray and running. The climax has our heroes lighting fuses to try blow up a dam wall to drown the ants – Bug Expert’s matches won’t light and he’s running out of time! He manages to do it in the end, but as he runs towards the helicopter to escape the blast, the camera starts shaking! Wait, I mean an earthquake hits! Bug Expert falls! Will he be able to escape being blown up in time? Oh, the suspense.
Among Bug Expert’s team are a potential love interest chick, an annoying kid, and a local sheriff. The local sheriff is played by Mitch Pileggi aka Skinner of The X-Files. Dear god, Mitch. I know you have bills to pay, but did you really have to star in this bomb? Surely, you were making enough cash from The X-Files at this point. Don’t tell me you were jobless, the clothes and hair are from mid 90s. That’s when The X-Files were at their peak. I thought you were better than this. You disappoint me, Mitch, you really do.
I’m baffled as to how anyone in their right mind could’ve greenlighted a movie about killer ants. Perhaps this was originally envisioned as a tongue-in-cheek monster movie. One of the scenes, which has Bug Expert and Love Interest escaping on a tiny, tiny motorbike seems to suggest this. Except something went horribly wrong in execution, and this turd was the result. Instead of milking and embracing the camp, everything’s played straight. And there’s no way a story about killer ants can be played straight without it sucking.
You’ll be shocked to know that our heroes are not devoured by the ants in a twisted and gruesome conclusion. They survive in the end and manage to defeat the man-eating ants. Bug Expert makes a crack about etymology being boring, gets the girl, and everyone lives happily ever after. Not quite. The final ominous scene involves a few of the ants escaping from the flood of water that just hit them. And now one of them has wings… Anyone for a sequel? Marabunta II: This Time We’ve Got Termites coming soon.