I try to stay clear from most of the species takeover movies on I Love Disaster Movies – especially as they’ve become so low rent. Before that trend took place, Locusts was vaunted as a prime time TV movie for Lucy Lawless to reach the big screen again post Xena. Whilst it runs at a good pace, it cannot hide its goofy traits or low budget roots in what seems to be an hour phone conversation with locust attacks in-between.
The disasters faced
Countless locusts, nerve gas, lots of green text, electricity voltage, skyscraper windows that crack easily and an evil skateboard and citrus face.
In what must be a very tense marriage, Maddy and Dan are lead scientists for Government departments. Maddy in biology, Dan in agriculture. Maddy loves her job and Dan will spend most of the movie deciding she is choosing work over him and their future family. You know they’ll kiss and make up by the end.
One of Maddy’s chief scientists Peter Axelrod (what a name) has been moonlighting for the Ministry of Defence. In that time he has created a super locust that breeds faster, flies further and is resistant to all known pesticides. Why? Bio warfare is vaguely thrown around but it is vague as hell. Once an assistant is attacked and the place is investigated, Maddy orders the bugs to be exterminated and Peter is fired. Movie ends here… except Jonas, the Ministry of Defence link, takes a few of the locusts live but then makes literally the worst job of keeping them contained ever. Firstly he drops some down a plug hole. Then he travels from American coast to coast and hands it over to a joyriding officer who then drops the suitcase infront of a truck that runs it over. This means we have two extra horny and hungry locust swarms developing on each coast – moving inwards.
From here the film follows Maddy and her assistant Vivian tracking one swarm, whilst Peter tries to help out from the outside after his daughters school bus is attacked by the swarm. As Sofia, his daughter panics, she faceplants onto a skateboard and goes into a coma in a very unconvincing manner. Peter’s wife Terry will spend the rest of the movie looking concerned.
It isn’t long before the military come in and General Miller wants to use the usual ‘weapons on everything’ approach – backed by Jonas and his crazy nerve gas ideas. They experiment on a single locust, which the gas kills, and suddenly 10% population death is a necessary loss. The various senators are on the fence whilst Maddy, Peter and Dan (being dragged into it locusts are feasting on crops and causing a worldwide famine if not stopped) theorise on other problems.
This all boils to a head when the two swarms, after various set pieces and bit character moments of carnage, look set to merge in the central American plains. Close to this is Maddy’s dad’s farm. Lyle, has spent the movie harvesting crops early and not answering his phone so no sooner have our lead trio arrived at Lyle’s farm, does the swarm arrive to snack on them too. They’ve developed a taste for flesh. Will they be able to find an answer or will the military end up dropping toxic nerve gas and kill millions in the process? You’ll be buzzing to find out…
Why is it worth watching?
At a brisk 84 minutes (IMDB states 95 but the UK DVD release is 84 minutes), Locusts doesn’t outstay its welcome. It also crams a lot of characters, quick scenarios and small set pieces into the movie too. Nothing really feels huge and because the characters aren’t mostly in peril, this is a family disaster movie that have very little blood or death. Mainly, the squeamish will be troubled by locust close ups and seeing characters swat them with hands and books. If you don’t like insects, I’m sure it’ll have more of an effect on you but nothing really happens on screen to anyone. The Swarm is more graphic and that’s a ham-fest!
What does work is that nothing really dwells or stays the same for long. Maddy and Dan are having relationship and work issues and are constantly on the phone to each other. The film feels like its sponsored by Motorola. Locust’s goes phone call – angry military meeting – mini disaster – phone call. It loops around constantly but does it in a breeze to keep you entertained. It is very surface level though and whilst there is some decent acting, the script doesn’t help sell strife.
The Locusts are well done, especially the camera work done for when you’re meant to be flying with them. It’s just as cheesy than it sounds and tips its hat to old 50’s b-movies. The biggest special effect is a plane crash which is also done very well and the artistic direction of it masks the low budget with ease. If there were one let down on effects it would be that in some scenes after the initial layer of locusts are shown, behind them are just fuzzy black smudges moving about… clearly not insects! Someone has also gone for cheesy sound effects too to make them really squish when they are squashed or thrown.
Lucy Lawless gives the film far more acting credit that it warrants and has some tender moments – especially in a moment with her dad. She outplays Dan and Peter who are rather one note due to their character design. Everyone elsewhere is pretty much standard government fodder and doesn’t really stand out except for two small roles. Vivian keeps getting tasks that make her a snoop that warrants her own spin off series! It is a shame she’s only really allowed to say ‘on it’ and then run off screen all the time. In an even smaller role, Natalia Nogulich owns the screen with her stilted character Lorelei for the moments she is n frame. For the first hour all she does is spill a drink and then suddenly she’s integral to saving the world. You can’t help but root for the quiet one at the back sometimes and this is one of those occasions.
You screw with nature and nature screws with you!Maddy is greta before greta was greta.
Three memorable moments
- The whole section of thirsty 11am diet coke office girls Stacy and Gina. Sex in the City much? I wanted them to be main characters not a four scene bit part.
- The plane crash is well done.
- The evil citrus fruit face carving at the festival that looks exactly like a spitting image Donald Trump.
The obligatory weird moment
When the film ends – Dan and Maddy have decided they love each other (of course) and decide to kiss. Just as thousands of dead locusts fall around them in their car. They splatter on the windshield in a romantic ‘you’re trapped in a car paella’ style. Very bizarre.
The drinking game
Every time the military decides that they are going to use force against the swarms. They don’t even know what force, but they’re gonna use it! Sigh…
Illogical but well put together on a tight budget, Locusts Day of Destruction is fun, silly and lighthearted with some genuinely interesting ideas and set pieces. While it certainly isn’t rated as a good movie, it certainly doesn’t deserve the low IMDB score it currently has either. I think with the advent of the Sci-Fi disaster movie, Locusts now seems a lot better than I originally thought. Not quite a recommendation though.
Rating: 2 / 5 (Poor)
If you enjoyed Locusts: Day of Destruction, then you may like…
- The Swarm: Easily the cheesiest but so bad its good insect movie.
- Them! – A very early 1950’s ant movie that is golden b-movie silliness.
- Swarm – Another ITV sponsored movie – this time about ants on a plane.
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This review was updated to the new IDLM spec from its original 2011 post in 2021.