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 — Airheads, 40 Days and Nights, My 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.