Monday, January 28, 2013

BUG (1975)

Jeannot Szwarc, 1975
Starring: Bradford Dillman, Joanna Miles, Richard Gilliland, Jame Smith-Jackson

Please don't watch this movie. You'll thank me. I'm a sucker for animal-attack films, particularly anything involving bugs or spiders, but... no. Just no. This falls squarely under the territory of so-bad-it's-bad, possibly even so-bad-it's-unwatchable. It was the last film produced by the great William Castle, so I wish I had better things to say. Alas.

Super smart cockroaches emerge from the bowels of the earth during a major earthquake. Because that wasn't enough, they're also able to set fire to things, though unfortunately (?) they aren't used to the environment and begin to die off. A resourceful scientist saves some and figures out how to breed them with regular cockroaches, breeding a resilient, intelligent, fire-starting, flying cockroach. Just what the world needs. Needless to say, disaster strikes, though not hard enough to keep this from being the silly, boring snoozefest that it is.

Based on Thomas Page's novel The Hephaestus Plague, I'm wondering if there's any way the book is better than the film, but I'm not brave or masochistic enough to find out. Other than the boredom factor, I have no idea why this film didn't work. It has a ridiculous enough plot and some amusing death scenes. Unfortunately death-by-fire is usually a poor substitute for gore and Bug supports that hypothesis 100%. The plot also dips into too many different sub-genres. Part disaster film, part animals-attack film and part mad scientist sci-fi effort, it's spread too thinly over the map with not enough effort put in any one area.

Check it out if you're feeling up for some self-punishment, otherwise go for Szwarc's far superior Jaws 2. Not as good as Jaws or Jaws 3, but still entertaining. I'm pretty sure you either have to be pre-pubescent or drunk to enjoy Bug. Not being either of those was clearly my mistake. I actually saw it at an all-night horror film fest, when it was screened during the wee hours of the morning. Despite how tired I was, Bug enraged and frustrated me enough to stay awake during its running time. 

Here's a taste:


  1. This is Matt from Portland. Have you read "Step Right Up!: I'm Gonna Scare the Pants off America," by William Castle. He wrote "Bug" and talks about in the book. "Bug," not great but I had to watch it after reading his book.

  2. I haven't! I will have to check that out. Thanks for the recommendation. I love everything about William Castle.