Meet the Applegates (1990)

Michael Lehmann has a career of ups and downs as a director. His debut was Heathers, which I’d claim as his critical high point. He followed that up with this movie, which was lost in the wake of New World Pictures bankruptcy and then Hudson Hawk, a film which is a cultural touchpoint for a waste of time (and you know that I love it and feel differently than the rest of the world). The rest of his films — Airheads40 Days and NightsMy Giant  — are fun films, but stray far from the bombast of his debut.

The Brazilian Cocorada are shapeshifting insects that can become human, newly migrated to a suburban Ohop neighborhood, learning everything about how to be normal from the Sunday paper. Dick (Ed Begley Jr.) gets a job at the nuclear power plant in the hopes that he’ll soon learn how to destroy the world so that only bugs survive.

That mission is soon subverted as the bugs start to become even stranger, if that’s possible. His wife Jane (Stocker Channing, forever Rizo from Grease) becomes addicted to consumerism and doesn’t even notice her husband drifting into an affair. Their son Johnny (Robert Jayne, who went from Night of the Demons 2 to world-class blackjack player) goes from straight A’s to metal and smoking weed. Their daughter Sally becomes pregnant and then a militant lesbian. And even the family dog, Spot, starts killing and eating.

When their mission becomes compromised, Aunt Bea (Dabney Coleman!) is sent to finish the mission, but the Applegates decide they love the humanity they’ve been sent to destroy. They retreat back to the jungle and their neighbors go there to find them in an improbably sweet but appreciably happy ending.

This is yet another movie that has never been released on DVD. Luckily, VHSPS has it.

BONUS: Listen to Becca and I discuss this movie on our podcast.

6 thoughts on “Meet the Applegates (1990)

  1. I’ll never pass radio station plotted movie. So Airheads is a very cool grunge/new metal-era flick with an equally cool soundtrack. It’s well-done and accurate in its set design and “how” radio stations work. (Not many are, trust me.) Busemi, Sandler, and Fraser definitely made up one of the best “fake bands” and pulled it off with a level of realism.

    Heathers is one of the best, if not the best, dark comdies, ever. Sadly, I have to say that Applegates is something I caught on cable and didn’t stick with it all the way through. I love Ed Begley, Jr. Just watched him in an episode of the Cool Kids (because he was in it) and he was a scream, as usual (Translyvania 6-5000!).

    Cami Cooper fell off the face of the earth. I remember her in Shocker and Lawnmower Man 2 but do not remember her in Like Father Like Sun (per the IMDB) (which I watched because Malice made a cameo). I am sure career frustations and not getting better parts or that “big” audition didn’t work out and she dropped out. That’s something that Bruce Campbell pointed out in his book, If Chins Could Kill. At the risk of being sexist: marriage and motherhood could have called as well. However, after briefly scanning the IMDB, it seems what really happened is that she went into politics and is an activist.

    I think you need to do a list of cockroach-bug-into-human movies: Naked Lunch, Jeepers Creepers, that one with Richard Geer, and didn’t Kevin Costner do a bug movie? Didn’t Mira Sorvino do a human-cockroach movie?


  2. Wasn’t Hudson Hawk a musical? Danny Aiello and Bruce Willis broke out in song while committing robberies, or something? Again, like Applegates, caught it on cable and didn’t stick with it. Now, I’ll have to see if I can get the DVD from the library (if they even have it) to give it a whirl.


  3. Pingback: Ten movies that were never even released on DVD – B&S About Movies

  4. Pingback: The Chill Factor (1993) – B&S About Movies

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