An earthquake releases a strain of mutant cockroaches with the ability to start fires, which proceed to cause destructive chaos in a small town. The studies carried out by scientist James Parmiter, however, reveal an i...展开ntent with much more far-reaching consequences.
The film bathes in that typically irresistible 70’s atmosphere like I’ve rarely seen it before. We’re talking about an atmosphere of grotesque, paranoia and apocalypse - all of it inflicted by spontaneous and inexplicable ecological phenomena. In this case a small Californian desert town becomes overrun with uncanny cockroaches after a severe earthquake during a period of drought. Not ordinary cockroaches, mind you, but indestructible and rapidly multiplying little monsters that hold the ability to set fire to material things as well as living beings! The fierce insects feed on ashes, spread across the desert area at an incredibly fast rate and quickly become responsible for a large death-toll among the increasingly hysterical population. Local entomologist Jim Parmiter faces the hardest challenge in his career trying to develop a method to exterminate this new breed of lethal bugs. Unlike a lot of its contemporary colleagues, which are just plain cheesy and laugh-inducing, “Bug” is actually an engaging and at times even scary motion picture. The suspense unfolds gradually, as more and locals find their houses infested with the nasty little fire-bugs, and certain death sequences are truly unforgettable, like the spontaneously combusting housewife in her kitchen. The tone of the film drastically changes in the last forty or so minutes, since Bradford Dillman isolates himself with in order to investigate the insects’ weaknesses and we exclusively follow up on his progress. At that point “Bug” becomes a little less exciting and action-packed but definitely not less fascinating to look at. The special effects are more than adequate enough considering the time of release and the budget they had to work with (especially knowing William Castle) and the acting performances are above average as well. The remote filming locations contribute a lot the atmosphere and I just can’t get over how brilliant and imaginative the premise of pyromaniac insects in fact is! Apparently I’m not the most reliable source when it comes to recommending 70’s creature features, since I even worship junk movies like “Squirm” and “Empire of the Ants”, but I presume that “Bug” will appeal to a very wide range of open-minded horror fanatics.