You know when you hear about a movie and you think, “This movie and I are made to be?” That’s how I felt when I read Final Girl’s review of Bug. A seventies eco-horror movie with roaches that fart fire? It’s like it was made just for me! Alas, Stacie Ponder’s review came with a warning that I didn’t heed and I suffered for an hour and a half because of it. I didn’t listen to Final Girl, but you should listen to me–this movie isn’t nearly as awesome as I make it sound.
Bug starts with an earthquake. A sleepy town in California loses its church but gains a horde of mutant roaches that are pretty indestructible and start fire with their butts. As an atheist, I think that that’s a fair trade. The bugs get right down to business, setting a pickup truck on fire.
Look at the jerk insect, he is so pleased about that fire. You can just tell by the way he waves his antennae. I hate roaches. I can deal with most aspects of city living, but I hate roaches more than anything. I’m so lucky and happy that my apartment has never had a roach problem. Honestly, a couple of my jobs have and I scream every time I see one. I’m not normally girly about bugs, in fact, I love spiders. But I just hate roaches so watching this movie was kind of a white-knuckle experience for me. Unfortunately, the movie itself just wasn’t that scary, I was only scared because of my roach-hate. In fact, I kind of hated this movie in some ways.
After the bugs set the truck on fire, Gerald, the boyfriend of one of the victims sees the farmhouse kitty trying to eat one of the roaches. I’m surprised tha the movie only got a PG rating because the bugs burn the cat to death in what I thought was a rather graphic manner. You hear the cat making these upset kitty yowls and you see the bugs all over the poor thing with their butts on fire. And the idiot just stands there, watching and doing nothing. I hate this movie more than R.L. Stine hates whenever he can’t kill a puppy in one of his books.
The idiot takes the scorched kitty to a biology teacher at his university, Dr. Jim Parmiter. Dr. Parmiter studied at the Robin Williams’ School of Motivating Students. He impersonates frogs in his class and tells his students about his theory that humans could once communicate with all animals. That makes the extinction of the megafauna by humans an extra dick move.
Jim discovers that the killer bugs came from underground and are dying due to the decreased pressure on the earth’s surface. He stabs one with a needle and there’s a bug explosion that goes on for about twenty seconds. Jim tries to warn the authorities but no one believes him.
The bugs are still up to their shenanigans. They attack Gerald’s girlfriend’s ear.
Unfortunately, the bugs also kill Jim’s wife. We get to watch her slowly burn to death. Seriously, this movie is kind of graphic, I’m surprised it didn’t get a PG-13 rating. This pushes Jim over the deep end and he descends into mad scientist territory.
Instead of trying to eradicate the monsters that killed his wife, Jim decides to ensure their survival by breeding them with common cockroaches. *Shudder*
Unfortunately, Jim’s hybrids develop a taste for flesh and learn how to spell.
The movie ends in ridiculousness that I don’t even want to get into. Let me just say, flying, sentient, butt-sparking roaches play a big part.
I can tell you, the movie sounds awesome but it’s deceptive. There are some serious pacing problems with the movie. A good portion of the middle is boring dialogue and exposition with little action. That’s mostly what this movie needs–more killer insect action! Sadly, there’s very little insect-caused death, just lots of squicky close-ups of what looks like those creepy hissing cockroaches. The music is a mixed bag. There are some cool clicky noises that play whenever the insects are on screen. But then there are these goofy sci-fi “P’ching, p’ching!” noises that take away any built up tension. Also, it seems like the insects can scream, there’s this shrieking that plays whenever the bugs are up to their evil. The acting is pretty dreadful, with the exception of Bradford Dillman as Jim. It is genuinely thrilling to see him descend into madness.
It’s a shame that this was William Castle’s last production. You horror fans should know that he’s the mind behind The Tingler, The House on Haunted Hill, and Thirteen Ghosts, among other notorious horror films of the sixties. He came up with ideas like giving away insurance policies in case people died of fright at his movies. Castle’s gimmicks inspired other directors, such as John Waters’ use of odorama in the movie Polyester.
Seriously, watch any of Castle’s other movies but stay away from Bug.