As I’ve said before, I’m woefully behind on my 90s horror flicks. Marriage and kids will do that to you. So, now that I have more free time as the kids are all grown up, I continue to play catchup and discover some of these fun sci-fi and horror films I missed back in the day. Ever since Terry Frost cover Mimic (1997) on episode 27 of his Martian Drive-In Podcast (which I highly recommend), I decided it was time to finally watch my Blu-ray that I did a blind buy on a few years back.
Author Donald A. Wollheim write the short story Mimic in 1950, although it varies from director Guillermo del Toro’s final work. Wollheim chose to center his story on the memories of a young man who witnessed a mysterious individual in a black coat in his neighborhood. Not quite human, more insect like. Del Toro would pick up on those visuals, adapting the story for what was originally to be an anthology of four separate stories. However, as that idea morphed into Mimic being its own movie, Del Toro expanded the story and the creature’s origins.
The story begins with Manhattan being ravaged by a deadly virus called Stickler’s Disease. Cockroaches are spreading it and nothing seems able to stop it. Enter entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) who brings a genetically engineered insect called the Judas Breed to wipe out the cockroaches, saving the children of Manhattan. As the Judas Breed was all female and designed to live just one generation, there were no worries about them surviving and breeding. Apparently, nobody ever watches horror movies in Manhattan.
Now, three years later, Susan is married to Dr. Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam). When buying insects from two boys, she discovers the Judas Breed is alive and mutating. We soon discover that stories have been circulating amongst the homeless of “Long John” and “Overcoat Slim”, which we have learn is actually the Judas Breed, now able to walk amongst us as they have camouflaged themselves to blend in. When Peter and his assistant Josh (Josh Brolin, The Goonies and No Country For Old Men) decide it’s time to venture into the bowels of Manhattan to find these creatures, they are joined by subway cop Leonard (Charles S. Dutton, Alien 3). There is also the sub-plot of a shoeshine man named Manny (Giancarlo Giannini, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) searching for his missing autistic son Chuy, who has followed his new “friends” into the subways. Meanwhile, Susan is on her way there as well, realizing the danger her husband is in. Before long, they all unite and the standoff between man and insect converges in a forgotten railway car far beneath the earth.
Mimic has a lot going for it but I do think it would have been even better in anthology form. I should mention that the version I watched was Del Toro’s director’s cut, released in 2011. He was never satisfied with the original cut of the film as he didn’t have the final say. But he was quoted as saying he was happy with the 2011 version, which runs some 6 minutes longer. However, there doesn’t appear to be any major additions, only some minor plot enhancements (according to various online sources). The picture and sound is where the major changes appear. Apparently Del Toro’s magic touch paid off as I was quite impressed with the overall look of the film and the atmosphere it generates.
I wouldn’t classify it as Del Toro’s best film but it is highly worth checking out. All of the cast add to the visual treats. Sure, the overall plot could have used some development but, then again, what should one really except from what is essentially a giant bug movie. It’s fun to see a young Josh Brolin as well as an almost unrecognizable Norman Reedus (Daryl from The Walking Dead). We also get an appearance from F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus) as Dr. Gates, an associate of Susan’s, and know that legendary Doug Jones (Hellboy and Pans’ Labyrinth) is one of the creatures under the makeup.
Check out the trailer and then be sure to invest in the director’s cut Blu-ray, currently going for less than $10! It did spawn two sequels, Mimic 2 (2001) and Mimic: Sentinel (2003), both of which are direct-to-video sequels with mostly negative reviews.