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Dead Ant Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Cinedigm

Dead Ant Poster

Directed by Ron Carlson
Written by Ron Carlson (screenplay) and Hank Braxtan (story)
2017, 87 minutes, Not Rated
Released on January 25th, 2019

Starring:
Jake Busey as Merrick
Rhys Coiro as Pager
Leisha Hailey as Stevie
Tom Arnold as Danny
Sean Astin as Art
Cameron Richardson as Love
Michael Horse as Bigfoot
Danny Woodburn as Firecracker
Sydney Sweeney as Sam

Dead Ant 01 Dead Ant 02

Review:

There’s a cool thing that happens to nerds like us when a movie hits on a message, theme, or sensibility and does it in a style that is near and dear to your heart. If it can’t hit on any of those notes, then it had better be a technical marvel without peer. Even then it may still feel a bit hollow; movies speak to the heart, after all (even when the eyes are all agog).

When it manages to hit all those notes, though…it becomes a thing of beauty- cheesy, campy, Aqua-Net reeking, tight-leather-pants-wearing, high-pitched-squealing beauty. If hair metal is your shit and B-movies give you a case of the warm and fuzzies, then you need look no further than Dead Ant.

Merrick (Jake Busey; The Predator), Pager (Rhys Coiro; Entourage), Stevie (Leisha Hailey; Fertile Ground), and Art (Sean Astin; The Lord of the Rings trilogy) are Sonic Grave, a hair metal act trying desperately to stay relevant. Along with their manager, Danny (Tom Arnold; True Lies); Merrick’s woman, Love (Cameron Richardson; Open Water 2: Adrift); and a sexy groupie named Sam (Sydney Sweeney; The Handmaid’s Tale), the band is headed to Noachella Music Festival because they couldn’t get into Coachella! They make a pit stop to buy some peyote from a Native American named Bigfoot (Michael Horse; Twin Peaks) and his little person sidekick, Firecracker (Danny Woodburn; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), at their organic fruit stand. He warns them that they can harm no living thing and must respect the land while on the peyote. They do nothing of the sort. They’re soon besieged by oversized ants with a taste for human flesh, ants who get collectively bigger every time you kill one! It’s a no-win situation, unless the power of hair metal can save them all.

Dead Ant 03 Dead Ant 04

If that sounds like a ridiculous premise, it is. Therein lies the beauty of Dead Ant, a movie with zero pretensions about what it is and how it’s entertaining you. The cast is talented and capable of carrying much heavier stuff, but they’re hamming it up and having one hell of a good time doing it. That kind of energy carries through to the screen. Jake Busey is a living, breathing parody of a hair metal singer, over-singing and harmonizing everything he can. Rhys Coiro is the definition of the horny, seductive lead guitarist. Sean Astin is what Samwise Gamgee would’ve been if life had spit him out in that scene instead of the Shire. Everyone is note-perfect and lovably stupid. And Tom Arnold? Wow. I don’t know if he’s ever been more Tom Arnold in his career. If you’re at all a fan of his work, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Special mention must be made of Bigfoot and Firecracker. Every scene they’re in is comedy gold; chock full of inappropriate humor and self-deprecating meta jokes. The mini-montage of their preparation for war is one of my favorite things I’ve seen in years! It’s not subtle at all.

Then again, nothing about this movie is subtle.

Dead Ant 05 Dead Ant 06

Least subtle of all is writer and director Ron Carlson’s love of ‘80s hair metal and its cultural influence. Dead Ant is loaded with covers of killer hits from the era (yes, I grew up on it). Sonic Grave’s biggest hit was “Don’t Close Your Eyes”, and it is literally the song by Kix in cover form! I assume they got express permission to rerecord and use it for the film, and they nail it. There’s even a riotously funny song called “Side Boob” that was written by director Ron Carlson, Rhys Coiro, and Jake Busey!

There’s a reverence here for an era of rock that is often reviled in today’s culture. Dead Ant screams into the mic that you’d better respect the legacy of hair metal and giant insects. That’s a combination that any self-respecting fan should be able to appreciate.

Is it cheesy both in presentation and style? Sure it is. That’s the one of the biggest parts of its charm.

Dead Ant 07 Dead Ant 08

Grades:

Movie: Fourandahalfstars Dead Ant Cover
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About The Author
Stuart Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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