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October 15, 2015


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Gary Jones - 1995
Synapse Films BD Regions ABC

The cover of the blu-ray proclaims the 20th Anniversary Edition. So why do I not know about this film, or recall it ever playing at a theater remotely near me? The answer is in one of the supplements, where Jones explains that the distribution rights were bought by the Hemdale Film Corporation, just months before the company when bankrupt. Not only did Mosquito not get the release Jones had anticipated, but he only received a third of the payment promised.

Someone should write, if not a book, at least a good, detailed article about how a group of Michigan based filmmakers made it to Hollywood. There is the Sam Raimi connection. Gary Jones started out working on special effects for Thou Shalt not Kill, except . . . and Evil Dead II. By the time he was ready to make his own directorial debut, almost ten years later, Jones was more than ready.

Mosquito has no greater aspirations than to be an entertaining creature feature. And for the most part, Gary Jones is successful. There are some shots of very obviously animated giant mosquitos chasing the main characters. Where it counts, in scenes of the mosquitos coming in for the kill, the special effects are better than might be expected. There is no CGI here. It's all practical effects, with mechanical mosquitos and a miniature set used for the climax. There's some T & A, as well as comic book gore - in other words, a movie designed for the drive-in and neighborhood theater circuit.

Gunnar Hansen, of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the best known name here. He plays the leader of a trio of bank robbers who collide with the quartet of a park ranger, a meteorologist, a recent college grad and her boyfriend. Hansen and company wear military type garb, suggesting that they might be survivalists, although that possible thread is never explored. The unlikely group realizes that they have to join forces in order to beat the threat of the giant mosquitos. Hansen gets to wield a chainsaw and make verbal reference to the film that first brought him fame.

The rest of the cast is made up of Detroit and Ann Arbor based actors, including Ron Asheton, from the band, The Stooges. Asheton provides most of the comic moments as the well meaning, if incompetent, park ranger. Several cast members provide memories of working on the film with several humorous anecdotes. Gary Jones has since had a successful career as a director. It's not just that Mosquito is a better film than might be expected, but that Jones and his team made the most of the limited resources.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 15, 2015 06:32 AM