Sunday, August 2, 2009

Castle Crasher: Bug (1975)

People often forget just how many films are actually adaptations of books. For example, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a dark book called Who Censored Roger Rabbit. Dumb movies like First Blood (cool as it is) is based on a book by the same name. In the 1970s, there were a series of silly book-to-film adaptations though- Night of the Lepus being a stand-out. The closest thing we have come lately is Meg, a film that has been 'in-development' since 1997. Some odd studio adapted a strange short story titled- really- 'The Hephaestus Bug' and made today's film...
I am putting the year on here so nobody gets it confused with that dumb movie where Ashley Judd does drugs and freaks out in a hotel. This is much better, no matter whose play it is.
The movie begins by introducing a nice, small town that is Christian and completely non-threatening. After enough time setting up that and are random supporting characters, an earthquake occurs. It shakes up all the people in Church, but everyone is alright. Little do they know that something more dangerous has occurred though. Later that night, a cat stumbles upon a cockroach, or so it thinks. The bug does an unseen action and causes the cat to light on fire. Jesus, movie, stop picking on the cats! First Beware! The Blob and now this! What did they do to you? Eventually, some people become victims of the bugs as well, the high point of which is a truck explosion.
As luck would have it, this town has an entomologist on staff, who serves as a High School Biology teacher. He goes to great lengths to study the creatures, becoming more and more secluded from his friends and family. Even his wife gets put on the back burner (no pun intended) in favor of the bugs. The real joy of this film is just watching how his character progresses into insanity. To be honest, everything is just window-dressing. He is the star of the movie and the bugs are the supporting actors. The bugs are a bit more believable than the Tingler (another William Castle production) most of the time, although the real bugs used help disguise the effect. Never once do they logically explain how the bugs shoot flames either. Oh, they certainly try. They do about as well as most 70s films do to explain pseudo-science.
As the film progresses, it manages to get crazier and crazier. The lead puts together a super-private lab designed to study these amazing creatures in great detail. Other than his sanity, there are no consequences. Oh, except for the bit where one bug lights his wife's hair on fire. As a bonus, this takes place in the same kitchen set used for The Brady Bunch show. Don't worry, the film has more than just flame-throwing bugs. As time goes by, the bugs strive to break free. The climax of this involves a group of them escaping their confinement and forming words on the wall. How are they this smart? Does it have anything to do with our scientist friend forcibly mating what he thinks are the smartest ones? They never say. The finale is a bit lazy, unfortunately, as the bugs kill the scientist and get sucked back into the ground by another earthquake. Can you say Deus Ex Machina, kids?
The movie is honestly pretty good, even if it barely explains any of its own science. The film has its own sort of charm and is honestly a very good character study. I realize how silly the movie's plot is (which is why it is here), but I honestly like this movie. Unfortunately, the DVD presentation is, how can I say it nicely, minimalistic. No trailers, commentary or anything. You want the movie- here it is. I should also note that this movie is directed by Jeannot Szwarc, the man behind such classics as Santa Claus: The Movie, Jaws 2 and Supergirl. It is still good though- I just felt like mentioning that. If you like 70s horror, check this one out.
If you liked those bugs, wait until you see what evolution does to ants. Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Ive seen this one on Amazon but always passed on it, but if it has your stamp of approval and flame throwing bugs, how can I NOT want to see it?