Woot Watches: The Applegates

by Sean Adams

I'd like for us to relive a moment from my life together: it's several years ago, my junior or senior year in college, and I'm eating in the dining room with a few of my friends. We're discussing movies from our childhoods, Flight of the Navigator, Encino Man, whatever comes to mind.

Me: Hey, what was that movie, something with "the Applegates"? I remember my mom rented that by accident thinking it was okay for kids but it was actually really bad.

We don't know what you're talking about.

Me: Sure you do, it was about this family, the Applegates, that were actually giant bugs who were pretending to be human.

Friends: ...

Me: They eat people, or wrap people in giant cocoons or something, I think. And one or two of the bugs have sex with a human. I definitely remember that part.

Friends: There's no way this is a real movie.

By not knowing about and subsequently denying the existence of this film, (which was called both Meet The Applegates and just The Applegates) my friends fit into a demographic known as "most people." But trust me, if you've got a VHS player (this cinematic gem is so misunderstood and overlooked that it still has yet to be released on DVD), it's well worth your time.

The plot does in fact, as college me proposed, center around a family of bugs. To be more specific,it's a family of four giant South American praying mantises cloaked to be a "perfect family" (the Applegates) who move into suburbia. How they were able to assume their disguises is never revealed, but why they do is pretty straightforward; their mission is for Dick (Ed Begley Jr. or Stan Sitwell from Arrested Development), the father, to get a job at a nuclear power plant so that he can blow it up and end humanity forever, giving the bugs run of the land once again. 
Once again, yes, this exists.

But not all goes according to plan! No, human society turns the Applegates' perfect family dynamic upside down. Dick and Jane's marriage falls apart as Dick begins sleeping with his secretary (I told you there was sex!) and Jane develops a shopping addiction. Johnny, the son, becomes a metal-head who can't function without smoking marijuana (which he pretty much states outright; as he lights up a bong in one scene, his father asks, "what are you doing?" to which he responds with a line so subtle in its implication of an addiction: "it's the only way I can cope, dad."), and Sally, the daughter, gets pregnant.

I mentioned this was a comedy, right?

Well, anyway, I won't give away the ending except to mention it's of the bat-poop insane variety. Check out the trailer and then watch the whole thing. On a legally purchased VHS. I for one would never suggest you do something as immoral as watch it on Youtube, where some ruthless criminal has uploaded it in nine installments.

Photo by Flickr member audreyjm529, used under a Creative Commons License.