“Dead Ant” is a real “Give the Devil his due” B-movie.
And by “Devil” I mean that Trump-tanned comic neer-do-well Tom Arnold, who delivers laughs where few exist in this “drive-in” genre riff set where U2 took inspiration for “Joshua Tree.”
Arnold plays Danny, the ’80s relic manager of hair metal band Sonic Wave, formerly Time Warp, whom he wants to take inspiration from the most potent peyote available to “find your moment” and write a song that goes viral and wins the desert campout music fest, “Noachella.”
“I’m not creepy. Even PROVEN it in court,” Danny oozes to a couple of bikini-topped groupies.
Danny’s the guy who, when giant ants start chasing him and his band, bellows, “If this wasn’t so SCARY, it’d be AWESOME.”
It is Danny who, after a band member is devoured by said giant ants, notes “Not the FIRST band member we’ve had to replace…This s— happens every DAY in rock’n roll!”
This “Coachella/Them” inspired horror spoof by Ron Carlson is a sort of instant cult-film, or aspires to be.
A has-been band with one hit “power ballad” behind them — led by guitarist Pager (Rhys Coiro), featuring shrieking singer Merrick (Jake Busey), shag-topped drummer Stevie (Leisha Hailey) and bassist Art (Sean Astin, in wig, shades and “Sucks to Suck” hat) heads to the desert, pre-festival, for “inspiration.”
A medicine man named Bigfoot (Michael Horse, funny) and his diminutive sidekick Firecracker (Danny Woodburn of “Seinfeld” fame) warn and warn all who buy their “Blue Moon” or “Sunshine” peyote of “grave consequences if they don’t respect it and the “sacred site” where they’re to injest it at sundown.
They do disrepect it.
And Merrick has barely noted his irritation at the post-Cobain/Kanye changes in “rock” with “I MISS the makeup, man!” When they’re running for their lives.
Carlson finds scattered laughs in the cheesy effects — ant traps, towering blood geysers, a Hobbit mauled by fire ants — and the ironic zingers blurted out by the stoners seen here.
“There’s like 22000 species of ants, right?” doltish Merrick offers. “But none on Ant-
The opening scene, a hippe chick who is the first to ignore the peyote warnings, has the full allotment of B-movie nudity (she disrobes as she’s chased).
And the picture never abandons its B-movie pretentions, kind of noble, generally a plus in movies like this.
It isn’t much, amusing junk at best. But “Dead Ant” lets Busey be a stoner-philosopher, Hailey be a rock-chick heroine (’80s style) and Coiro (“Entourage”) demonstrate the power of a “power chord” in a “power ballad,” especially where there are murderous insects concerned.
See it not-entirely-sober with a friend. And give the Devil his laughs. Arnold, this time out, earns them.
MPAA Rating: unrated, bloody (comic) violence, drug abuse, nudity, profanity
Cast: Tom Arnold, Leisha Hailey, Jake Busey, Michael Horse, Cameron Richardson, Sean Astin, Rhys Coiro, Danny Woodburn
Credits: Written and directed by Ron Carlson. A Cinedigm release.
Running time: 1:27