Written by Jonathan Wojcik

The Terminix Monsters

Today we review something I've briefly talked about in a now long-defunct blog post, but never on the site proper, and there's a couple of them I didn't even know about at the time. I'm sure you've either deduced or guessed that I'm not the biggest fan of the "pest control" industry's tendency to demonize poor little animals who are just trying to get by as hard as we are, but they sure do churn out a lot of cool, fun and bizarre advertising campaigns, and a couple years back, there was a slew of Terminix advertisements with some damn near breathtaking monster designs. The idea was to exemplify the horrors of tiny insects by exaggerating them into more fantastical beasts, which....I dunno, I feel like that was kind of destined to backfire, wasn't it? Let's see for ourselves!


   I believe this may have been the first one that aired, and established the formula used by most of the others. The narrator asks us to imagine something that can tear apart your home from the inside, and we're supposed to be shocked and horrified that the statistics he gives are for real life termites and not this big cutie-toot, a naked fleshy beast with multiple sets of toothy, sphincter-like lips in its humongous throat. Of course, what we should really be doing about termites is not live in dead trees. That's like building a house entirely out of meat and wondering why buzzards are flying away with hunks of your master bedroom, or building a house out of peanut butter cups and acting like it's my fault that I'm buzzsawing away at it like a cartoon goat, my body just limpy dragging behind my head as my mouth pac-mans its way up and down the walls in neat, perfect rows.


   In this one, the narrator describes the various diseases some mysterious whatsit can spread to your family, while we watch a glorious chimera of gooey mollusks whipe its phlegm all over a countertop, finally revealing that the true culprit is no fantastical kitchen squid at all, but ordinary, real-life cockroaches! Oh no! Those exist!!! They also ain't that big a deal if you ask me, or if you ask some entomologists, because I totally sourced and researched the hell out of that article.

Anyway, I just adore the combination of things we're seeing in the not-cockroaches. It's some sort of octopus creature, but one whose every tentacle ends in the head of a snail, and wears a cookie jar like a hermit crab's shell. Who the hell needs the cookies? I'd give up cookies forever to have one of these instead, and I wouldn't even eat it, no matter how deliciously sweet an octo-snail would probably be freshly steamed. Maybe once it died of old age, I'd finally cook it up, hopefully only one day before I was going to die, so I could know what an octosnail tastes like but I wouldn't have to go on too long without either cookies or an octosnail.


   Possibly their most extreme disparity between monster and reality, this one follows a whole death brigade of burly, bat-winged beasts who smash clear through entire homes in the blink of an eye, seemingly for no reason but probably because we built all these tacky upper-class mcmansions over their natural breeding grounds, and should have obviously known better. I actually talk about termites in the same cockroach article I just linked, because termites are actually a type of cockroach, and equally misunderstood.

The monsters here aren't as weird as some of the others, but they're fairly amusing. They dont' look like something that would have ever evolved to fly, and I guess that's why they barrel into houses with the grace of a bison flung from a catapult.


   This is one I never found until Haretrinity's comment on this very article, so I've had to hastily add it in, and I'm so glad, because it's easily up there with my favorites. The tiniest and cutest of them all, this gooey little pest emerges from the sink, with a throbbing, toothless, puckered sphincter for a mouth that it uses to smooch all over toothbrushes. I love how it's kind of shaped like a headless rodent, but its limbs are stretchy and boneless, with little tentacle fingers! We also actually watch this one disintegrate directly into a swarm of cockroaches, which is a pretty high-level spell for such a little guy to know. Those septic pipes must be crawling with other monsters to battle.


   This is quite possibly the most "mundane" of these monsters, just a quadrupedal beast hatching out of a giant egg to eat its way through a floor, but its face and jaws are almost straight off a goblin shark, and its pudgy arms are so precious! You can tell this might have been a later, lower-budget ad; the CG model doesn't seem quite as detailed as others, and there's a constant motion blur that makes it impossible to get a screenshot as beautiful as this guy deserves. You'll also notice they changed the formula for this one, just coming out and calling termites themselves monsters. I never!

This particular commercial is also apparently uproariously funny to someone's baby. I don't often find people-babies so cute, but an infant in hysterics at the sight of a nightmare beast ruining someone else's house is an infant I can strongly relate with. That is cute. I bet he'd eat a floor too, if he could. I bet he'd eat you if he could. Well, I mean, all babies probably want to eat all things. They're babies.


   Another one with too much blur, which is even more tragic, because this beautiful bastard has it all; mutant skull head, deep sea fish eyes, massive underbite, oily exoskeleton, crab's claws, even a pair of organic buzzsaws! This is yet another termite one, and this time, the monster even really does resemble an exaggerated termite, at least in texture and color scheme. I love the animation on this one, too. Almost all of these things are very professionally animated with realistic animal-like movements, and the way this precious baby eagerly tears at the wall is so full of personality, so earnest. He dislikes this soulless, rigid white architecture as much as I would, and loves every moment of tearing it to shreds.


   Finally, we come to what may be my personal favorite, if you can believe I like something even more than the octosnail, though I'll admit it's still very, very close. This monster actually serves as a stand-in for ants, which really aren't renowned for their ability to spread disease like this commercial claims. It's hypothetically, probably possible for the same reasons that it is for cockroaches, but we really don't know if anyone has ever actually picked up a disease from little ant feet. We think it can happen because ants, like anything else, might touch something dirty and then touch your food while your immune system is having an off day, and that's basically it; an unsubstantiated claim that can be applied to any object that exists, living or otherwise.

  Malarkey aside, every last little thing about the pantry monster is perfect. The way its veiny, corpse-colored flab is draped over its spindly limbs, the strands of tissue connecting it to the ceiling it presumably grew from like a big clump of mold, it basically blends all my favorite colors, textures and shapes into one tasteful package, and the best part of all is its "head," if we can even rightfully call it that, since it's basically nothing but a gaping mouth hole in place of any discernible cranium at all, but we can see at the start of the ad that its mouth-face is usually retracted deep inside its body, like a turtle! PRECIOUS. It's also another one that's just so pleased with itself, excitedly slobbering all over someone's food more just to contaminate it than actually eat it. Hilarious.

Besides being the prettiest, the Pantry Monster best demonstrates where these commercials can so easily go wrong. When you show us an ooze demon vomiting into a refrigerator and then you're all "don't worry, it's a metaphor for some silverfish" I'm pretty sure most people will just feel, at least subconsciously, that maybe some silverfish aren't such a big deal to see around the house, and most of the time, of course, they aren't.

And then there's people more like me, disappointed that they can't have the silverfish and the puke mutant. Life isn't fair. Why would you tease me like that, Terminix.

At least I could review them on my dumb old website for Halloween.

Halloween 2014 Archive: