If there’s one low budget monster movie that people my age tend to remember, even if they’re not necessarily horror fans, it’s Mosquito. I can’t really fathom why that is, but I always have friends contacting me trying to remember the name of the giant mosquito flick they saw as kids, apparently never thinking that Mosquito might be it. And I’ll be honest, I was a little late to the game on it. Most of them saw it long before I ever did. But I still don’t know the reason why it struck a chord with so many people.
In all honesty the film’s popularity with twenty-somethings probably has to do with nothing more than the fact that it was played and replayed constantly on the SyFy (then SciFi) Channel back in the day. It could also be the fact that video stores everywhere seemed to stock this movie. My local supermarket even had Mosquito available for rental and that, if anything, means that it truly reached every corner of the Earth.
Still, whatever audience Mosquito built was not an audience it necessarily kept. People may remember it fondly once they remember the title, but they don’t tend to dig it out and watch it again. It doesn’t even have a current DVD or Blu-ray release, which is a shame because it actually is worth revisiting.
Is it a B-Movie? Absolutely. But it embodies everything that was great about low budget horror in the 1990’s. The best of them had great, gooey FX work accomplished for almost nothing, married with a complete and total lack of shame. Sure, the ‘90’s might not have been known for outrageous gore in the same manner the ‘80’s were—or even really known for horror in general until Scream came along—but there was a whole other world going on in the straight to video realm.
Cheaply produced as they were, everything was trying to outdo the last in terms of gratuity and absurdity. While Castle Freak may have been the reigning king of this movement, Mosquito definitely comes close.
I won’t pretend to say that there’s a lot of great filmmaking going on in this feature, because we all know that there isn’t. Mosquito isn’t about that, though. With the kind of production and the budget the creative team was working with, I think getting the film completed was accomplishment enough.
The acting is pretty rough. Despite Gunnar Hansen in his best role besides Leatherface, there’s not much in the way of production design or cinematography; even still, it succeeds in everything it sets out to do, which is to make sure that the audience has a good time. There are times when the mosquitos are definitely just big, inanimate props being waved around by the people they’re attacking, but that doesn’t matter. When the effects succeed, they’re still cartoonish and this cartoonish nature is the feature’s greatest strength.
Looking back, it’s completely understandable as to why Mosquito became such a staple of the Sci-Fi Channel back in the day. It almost singlehandedly predicted a movement that’s still going on even now: The Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie. Just a few short years after Mosquito’s release, once it started making its rounds in the TV rotation, Sci-Fi began producing weekly original films that were all trying to mimic the quality, tone and style that this one offered. To me, though, none of them ever bested it.
At the end of the day, there are bad movies you enjoy watching and bad movies you don’t. The ones you do enjoy watching can even become favorites in their own way, flicks that you throw on just to have a good time. Mosquito is top-tier trash cinema in that you don’t care about its flaws, and even if you do they become a part of the overall ride.
It’s entertaining from beginning to end, absurdly goofy and enjoyable with some shocking moments that you would never expect from something like this. One of Mosquito’s true, honest strengths is that as bad we might call it, the balance of tone is flawless. It’s pure camp one moment, can get dark the next, and then it can even go for an outright shock. This is not something that’s remotely easy to pull off, so it’s amazing that Mosquito manages to do it.
Scenes like the one in which a poor woman is surprised in her tent by a mosquito’s proboscis harken back directly to the sleazy kills of Sleepaway Camp, but if all you want is to see a man’s eyeballs balloon to cartoonish size and explode, this one has that too. The best, most rewarding part is that neither approach feels out of place. Both are just an integral part of the Mosquito experience. It should be remembered as a cult classic for its entertainment value alone. There’s no need to harp on a film’s downsides when all it ever sets out to be is fun. Because even if Mosquito is bad on a technical level, I will never say it sucks.
For more Wicked Horror coverage of Mosquito, click here!