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Bug Movies

Posted: July 14th, 2015, 7:23 pm
by scotland
Bug theme (inspired by Ant Man release this week) hasn't gotten any action yet, so I'll give this a go.

When I think of Bug Movies, perhaps the first that comes to mind is 1954's Them! (exclamation point included in the title).

The movie is one of the first "Oh god, what have we done" about radiation from atomic bombs - with the menace given form in mutated nature. It would go on to not only inspire other giant bug movies, but be one of several inspirations for Gojira (along with Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, also by Warner Bros). Its got a solid cast with James Whitmore, James Arness, Santa Claus (okay, Edmund Gwenn, but you'll know him as Nick from Miracle on 34th Street), and female scientist/action girl Joan Weldon. The black and white works fine in the desert. Some of the scenes stick out, including an FBI agent (Arness) and a local sheriff (Whitmore) using anti tank weapons - then you remember that its only a few years after WWII and that these two might easily have learned to use these weapons then. Other great scenes are going into the mound, and a vast tunnel system. (The movie is the reason Arness got the Matt Dillon role for Gunsmoke, and Fess Parker got cast for Disney's Davy Crockett based on his small role).

Them! is one of the movies in the old "Creature Feature" packages that some of you may have enjoyed on local stations growing up on Fridays or Saturdays ( Svengoolie on MeTV cable station is still doing this type of show today).

If you watch Them! for the first time, you may think "Have I seen this before?". Sure, many other giant bug movies of the time are similar, but it may be due to big budget action movie made 30 years later...James Cameron's Aliens. You may see a lot of similarities, including the little girl survivor, the bug hunt through the tunnels, the search for the queen, etc. Lot of differences of course, but I would not doubt Cameron is a fan of Them! One turn around is that Them! is in part terror from unintended consequences of the atomic bomb, where in Aliens, the only way to be sure is to do what? You know.

Re: Bug Movies

Posted: July 15th, 2015, 3:31 pm
by JustLikeHeaven
Whenever I think about "Bug Movies" the first thing that comes to mind is Starship Troopers. Sure it's not your typical giant insect type film...but it kind of is.

I re-watched this film about a year ago and was surprised at how well it held up. It's got some neat practical effects and doesn't go too nuts with the CGI. I love the subtle humor in the film, especially all of those jokey "Join the Army" fake commercials you constantly see and hear. It's funny how people disliked the film stating it was a pro-war, mindless action film aimed for teenage boys. It's actually a fairly smart satire about the horrors of war. Just because it's a war about space bugs, with lots of goopy action doesn't mean there isn't some interesting stuff going on under the hood.

I think this is on Netflix and I'll try it to watch it again soon. It's a classic.

Re: Bug Movies

Posted: July 15th, 2015, 4:42 pm
by Vexer6
I quite enjoy killer insect films like Skeeter, Mosquito, Deadly Swarm, Killer Buzz, The Hive, Black Swarm, Locusts: The 8th Plague, Caved In: Prehistoric Terror, Slugs, Deadly Scavengers, Deadly Stingers, Scorpius Gigantus, They Crawl and dozens of others.

Re: Bug Movies

Posted: July 15th, 2015, 9:29 pm
by scotland
Vexer6 wrote:I quite enjoy killer insect films like Skeeter, Mosquito, Deadly Swarm, Killer Buzz, The Hive, Black Swarm, Locusts: The 8th Plague, Caved In: Prehistoric Terror, Slugs, Deadly Scavengers, Deadly Stingers, Scorpius Gigantus, They Crawl and dozens of others.


I am not familiar with most of these. Are they are pretty modern? Which are the best, in your opinion?

As for Starship Troopers, oh yes, definitely a bug movie! The book, while very different, also has some things to say about such a society. I thought the movie was a lot of fun, although it got a bit too silly at parts (large bugs shooting down spaceships ... okaaaaay). The military misadventures remind me of War World Z battle of Yonkers, if anyone has read the book. Interesting to contrast that with Them! or similar 1950s fare where the military, while often shoot first-ask the corpse questions later, is also usually very competent.

Re: Bug Movies

Posted: July 15th, 2015, 10:31 pm
by Vexer6
A lot of them are pretty modern(as in made in the 2000s), several are Sci-Fi Channel original movies(which I love)

My favorite of the films I mentioned is probably Caved In.

I liked Starship Troopers as well(and the sequels to a lesser extent).

Re: Bug Movies

Posted: July 16th, 2015, 12:30 am
by velcrozombie
I watched Them! with my father and a couple of other people about 2-3 years ago and was surprised by just how good it was. I'd only watched it once before when I was very young and could only remember the bit at the end when the Army used flamethrowers to exterminate the nest. The library at my grade school had a picture book based on Tarantula (Clint Eastwood's film debut!) that I checked out; it told a condensed version of the movie's story in 24-32 pages using stills from the movie. I've always heard that film being favorably compared to Them! but I still haven't gotten around to actually watching it.

One movie I remember liking a lot as a kid was Arachnophobia. It had the same scary-but-funny feel of a film like Gremlins. I remember that there was (whether consciously or not) a mirroring of the Dreyfuss-Scheider-Shaw trio from Jaws with Jeff Daniels, John Goodman and one of the other actors (it's been too long to for me to remember). I do remember the final battle with The God Spider and one of my cousins joking that the spider seemed to have commando training, so effectively was it avoiding Jeff Daniel's attacks.

Slither is a slightly questionable inclusion (slugs not bugs) but I had an awfully good time watching it with a friend in an empty theater on opening weekend. James Gunn is now riding high off of the well-deserved success of Guardians of the Galaxy, but at the time he was an ex-Troma employee who was better known for writing the Dawn of the Dead remake and putting pot jokes in the Scooby-Doo movies. Lots of creative gross-out moments and trashy, profane humor, but it's also surprisingly sweet and good-natured.

Of course there's David Cronenberg's remake of The Fly, where Jeff Goldblum's slow transformation into a monster is used as a depressing meditation on aging and sickness (and possibly the individual's right to die, if you take the ending into account). I love this movie, but I just don't feel like talking about it anymore.

On a lighter note, the remember seeing Eight-Legged Freaks for free back in college about a dozen years ago. It's definitely a "lazy Sunday afternoon, flipping through the channels" type of movie - the only thing I really remember about it was a scene where someone kicks a giant spider while jumping through the air on a motorbike and the fact that they actually say the name of the movie during the movie. Not particularly good, but painless.

Re: Bug Movies

Posted: July 16th, 2015, 5:56 am
by scotland
velcrozombie wrote: The library at my grade school had a picture book based on Tarantula. I've always heard that film being favorably compared to Them!

Of course there's David Cronenberg's remake of The Fly, where Jeff Goldblum's slow transformation into a monster is used as a depressing meditation on aging and sickness (and possibly the individual's right to die, if you take the ending into account). I love this movie, but I just don't feel like talking about it anymore.


Tarantula is memorable. Made the year after Them! it uses very different style of special effects. Also black and white, also a desert theme (while not explicitly connected to the bomb or radiation, its a subtext). Its also two movies in one. Yes, it has a tarantula that will stoke any arachnophobia, but its also got very Cronenberg type body horror. That horror is not from the spider, but rather from good intentions gone horribly wrong (or right, at least for the spider). It also stars John Agar, a b movie star in many films.

The original Fly also has a fun plot, told in flashback. Vincent Price is just a supporting player, but here we see a kinder gentler Price. While the remake is a great film (cheeseburger), the original also is worth watching. The special effects are wanting, but if you ever see a white headed fly you want to help it.

Re: Bug Movies

Posted: July 16th, 2015, 10:24 am
by JustLikeHeaven
Arachnophobia - This is one that I enjoy, but I have a hard time sitting through. Spiders in general just creep me out and the thought of them crawling about these actors makes my skin crawl! The film has a good vibe and energy though...it's enjoyable to watch. The fact that these used either real spiders or practical effects for most of the film means that it holds up nicely. If this were to be made today it would probably be mostly CG spiders and lose some of it's "squirm appeal" for me. Knowing an actor is interacting with a snake or spider makes a difference to me when I'm viewing it. It just freaks me out a bit more. :?