Bug – USA, 1975 – reviews

‘The picture you see with your eyes closed.’

Bug is a 1975 American science fiction horror feature film directed by Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2) from a screenplay by William Castle (Homicidal, The Tingler; The House on Haunted Hill) and Thomas Page, based on his 1973 novel The Hephaestus Plague. It was the last film Castle was involved with before his death. The movie stars Bradford Dillman (Piranha), Joanna Miles, Jamie Smith Jackson and Richard Gilliland.

Plot:

An earthquake releases mutant cockroaches that can create fire by rubbing their cerci together. Eventually most of the bugs die because they cannot survive in the low air pressure on the Earth’s surface, but a scientist (Dillman) keeps one alive in a pressure chamber. He successfully breeds the cockroach with a modern bug creating a breed of intelligent, flying super-bugs…

Reviews:

“So is this cinematic gem worth a Cavalcade? Not really, unless you fast-forward past the insufferable padding with the horrible 70’s synth track music and skip straight to the cat attack and the games of bug scrabble.” Cavalcade of Schlock

“There were moments toward the beginning of this where I thought it might actually be pretty good. The earthquake was pretty good, and some of the bug scenes and attacks are fairly good and intense. There’s always a lot of tension when you’re waiting for some animal to just go nuts and attack. But eventually it just goes off the rails—while remaining enjoyable, for the most part.” Cinema de Merde

“The film takes things to a personal level, involving much of the screen time to concentrate on Dillman’s isolated experiments and the mental breakdown he endures because of it. This flaws the film a bit, as we never know how drastic the insect epidemic really is to the outside world, and the attacks are only limited to a handful. But on the other hand, these claustrophobic scenes makes things intense and unnerving.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

“The last act, really the last 40 minutes or so, are unusually grueling and seem to go on forever. The payoff, such as it is, is thwarted by particularly inept special effects, matched in their crudeness only by the equally unconvincing stuntwork. Except for Dillman and Patty McCormick (as a friend of the Parmiters), the film has no name actors.” Stuart Galbraith IV, DVD Talk

“Many tend to dismiss Bug! as a schlock film – and some of the occasionally cheesy pyrotechnic effects tend to reinforce this – but there is an intelligence to the film that makes it much better than that. On the minus side, there is an irritating and distracting electronic score.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“Director Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2 [1978]) abandons his “realistic” approach and resorts to very fake-looking bugs, complete with obvious wires. Any goofy goodwill Bug has built up disappears in a flurry of winged stupidity. Bug is also plagued by a desire to diddle with what’s already been honed by decades of drive-in schlockmeisters. You’d think Castle would have understood this.” Bill Gibron, Pop Matters

“There are hints that this is borne of setting Hell itself free on Earth, but the religious angle is fumbled and only amounts to its imagery, so no room for theological debate here, which may not be so bad. It’s just that for all its calculated vileness, Bug is very silly and not much better than a fifties B-movie of the same type.” Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

“Slow in spots, and Dillman’s crazed experimentation with the bugs becomes tedious, but there are some gory deaths to recommend this and it’s a perfect example of ’70s sci-fi horror making gone wild.” The Terror Trap

“Although slow in spots and Dillman’s crazed experimentation with the bugs becomes somewhat tedious, there are enough shocking deaths and moments of slow-mo beetle-bursting to recommend this film. Also, with a fun and foreboding ending where the bugs have now grown wings, it’s a perfect example of Seventies sci-fi horror pitting helpless man against out-of-control nature.”Steven Pope, Tina Aumont’s Eyes

“Dillman is a scientist who loses his wife to the insects. He becomes a recluse midway through the story, and the film goes to sleep along with him. A few scary moments, but that’s about it. Technical credits are good, actors are fair, direction is mediocre, but the public squashed Bug.TV Guide

“Unlike Castle’s cheery, gimmicky horror movies of the 50s and 60s, this is a grim, serious piece. The FX at the conclusion are a letdown after the flawless work until that moment (the insect photography was by Ken Middleton, who also took care of this end of things with the superior ant movie Phase IV). Still, Bug remains a strong, moody insect chiller, ripe for rediscovery.” David Annandale, Upcoming Movies

“At the same time Dillman goes into seclusion, so does the film; its last half is largely static, and the film never revives much interest.” Variety

“Director Jeannot (Supergirl) Szwarc stages the bug attack scenes fairly well (like the bug-in-the-earlobe gag), but they are ultimately too few and far between for Bug to be any good.  You can at least get a kick out of seeing the familiar looking Brady Bunch set being used as Dillman’s house during the bug-out sequences.” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

  • Bradford Dillman … James Parmiter – PiranhaChosen SurvivorsMoon of the Wolf; Fear No Evil
  • Joanna Miles … Carrie Parmiter
  • Richard Gilliland … Gerald Metbaum
  • Jamie Smith-Jackson … Norma Tacker (as Jamie Smith Jackson)
  • Alan Fudge … Mark Ross
  • Jesse Vint … Tom Tacker
  • Patty McCormack … Sylvia Ross – Silent Predators; Saturday the 14th Strikes Back; Crowhaven FarmThe Bad Seed
  • Brendan Dillon … Charlie
  • Frederic Downs … Henry Tacker (as Fred Downs)
  • James Greene … Reverend Kern
  • Jim Poyner … Kenny Tacker
  • Sam Javis … Taxi Driver
  • Bard Stevens … Security Guard

Technical credits:

99 minutes | 1:85:1 aspect ratio | mono

P2230839

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