In honor of my story “Giant Cockroaches From Outer Space” in the book PARTNERS IN SLIME by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin …. I bring you the Big Bug Movie Reviews
Buggin’ Out! Top Ten Big Bug Movies (Reviews)
(Movie poster from The Giant Spider Invasion)
Born in the Atomic Age, science fiction and horror films featuring big bugs crawled onto cinema screens in the Fifties and haven’t stopped crawling ever since. Why? Simply put, fear of the bomb and the fear of bugs combine well in creating terrifying tales. Let’s take a look at the top ten big bug epics.
Them! (1954), directed by Gordon Douglas
Mutated giant ants run amok and wreck havoc in a New Mexico town, making their way to the sewers of L.A. – the first big bug movie of the Atomic Age, and still one of the best. Look hard and you’ll see a young Leonard Nimoy (of Spock fame) without pointed ears. This film scared my mother when she was a kid: coming home from the theatre, the chains on the car tires sounded just like the giant ants in the film. It still holds up today and was paid tribute to in Eight Legged Freaks.
The Monster that Challenged The World (1957), directed by Arnold Laven
A campy classic and actually, there are several monsters – giant, bug-eyed caterpillars that challenge the Navy after the discovery of strange eggs. This is a cult film that is loads of fun to watch at 3 a.m. during a thunderstorm. Oooooh, scaaaary!
The Deadly Mantis (1957), directed by Nathan Juran
A gigantic praying mantis is frozen for a million years until a volcano awakens it. The insect goes on a rampage, destroying Washington, D.C. and New York City, until the military is sent in to gas it. The special effects are pretty spectacular for a 1957 movie.
Mothra (1962), directed by Inoshiro Honda
Perhaps one of the most poetic and beautiful of all bug movies, Mothra starts out as a giant caterpillar that invades Tokyo searching for some lost friends – tiny twin princesses from her island. The princesses were stolen away by an evil entrepreneur, and Mothra will do whatever it takes to get them back.
The caterpillar ravels herself in a cocoon and soon emerges as a giant moth that knocks over buildings with the hurricane-level winds from her beating wings. Mothra has appeared in a number of additional movies, including Mothra Versus Godzilla (1964), Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964), Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster (1966), Godzilla Versus Mothra (1992), and Mothra (1996).
The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), directed by Bill Rebane
A meteorite carrying spider eggs crashes in Wisconsin and soon, giant spiders are crawling all over the place. Don’t you hate when that happens!
It’s very likely that this inspired Eight Legged Freaks. One of the funniest and goriest moments involves a spider and a blender. The biggest spiders look like furry Volkswagens.
(Movie poster from Tremors)
Tremors (1989), directed by Ron Underwood
There’s a lot of Fifties-style big-bug fun in this flick. A tiny desert town is besieged by man-eating worm creatures with big teeth. Amusing special effects and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor help this picture along. In Tremors 2: Aftershocks, the critters grow legs, and in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, there is a cheesy theme-park based on the monsters. The Sci-Fi Channel ran a short-lived Tremors TV series.
Mimic (1997), directed by Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos is one of the creepiest and most innovative vampire movies from south of the border. Religious and government undertones make things even creepier. Here, there’s good usage of setting with the New York subway’s underground tunnels, and the giant cockroach creatures are nasty and effective. Del Toro went on to direct Blade II.
Followed by the sequels Mimic 2 and Mimic 3: Sentinel.
Starship Troopers (1997), directed by Paul Verhoeven
This outer-space epic, based on the Robert Heinlein young adult classic, is a great shoot-’em-up featuring the military versus monster-bugs from outer space. Paul Verhoeven keeps the thrills and special effects up throughout the film, and it’s a lot better than his other science-fiction films, RoboCop and Hollow Man.
Eight Legged Freaks (2002), directed by Ellory Elkayem
Mutated spiders grow to gigantic size after a toxic spill in the sleepy town of Prosperity, Arizona. Doug E. Doug steals the show as Harlan, a radio talk-show host who spouts out about UFOs and government conspiracies from his mobile home in the desert. The special effects are outstanding and there are plenty of creepy-crawlies around.
Slither (2006), directed by James Gunn
Directed and written by James Gunn (who also wrote the Dawn of the Dead remake), this isn’t actually a BIG-bug movie, since it’s filled with little squiggly space-slugs. But there are so many of them, their combined bulk adds up to humongous proportions. Besides, I like the movie and it’s my list, so I guess it’s okay for me to break my own rules!
The sleepy town of Wheelsy is awakened by the landing of a meteor. Before you know it, the police chief (Nathan Fillion) and his crew are battling mutated aliens and zombies – but the slimy space-slugs soon steal the show. Creepy, gory, and fun, Slither is a great tribute to the drive-in low-budget science-fiction horror flicks of the Fifties and Sixties – but with a bigger budget.
Honorable mentions: Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), Bug (1975), Earth Vs. the Spider (1958 and 2001), The Fly (1958 and 1986), Godzilla Vs. Mothra (1968), and Tarantula (1955).
I hope you liked the Big Bug Movie reviews.
Please check out the short story “Giant Cockroaches From Outer Space” in PARTNERS IN SLIME by Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin. Ready to read at the links below:
(Kindle & trade paperback) http://www.amazon.com/Partners-Slime-Michael-McCarty-ebook/dp/B004PYDI42