Macabre…ish Horror Review: Bug


Bug, 1975, 99 min



In a full church, just as the pastor preaches about hell and brimstone, there’s an earthquake. The building is being torn apart as the parishioners hold on for dear life as the floor ripples like waves below them. Outside a huge rift has opened in the ground and giant roaches make their way out. They can rub their legs together and start fires. As proven when a truck with two men in it, catches fire and cooks them to death.


The insects even hitch a ride in the tail pipe of another truck and catch it on fire too, on their way out. Gerald Metbaum (Richard Gilliland) hears the insects making a lot of noise outside and sees them, picks one up and it lights a fire in his hand. Another crawls on a cats face and lights the cat on fire. Then the dry grass in the field is also lit on fire by the insects.


Gerald takes the now charred cat to Professor James Parmiter (Bradford Dillman) and asks him if there are any insects that start fires. Then Gerald takes the professor to the smoldering field and they collect specimens. Upon closer inspection the insects have no eyes and eat ashes. And all around town, random fires are breaking out. Big fires too, buildings are burning to the ground.


Professor Parmiter sounds the alarm on the insects, informing Professor Mark Ross (Alan Fudge) about these creatures and later his car becomes infested and are trying to light it up. He stops them by burning a newspaper, luring them out and putting them in a jar.


After a funeral while the widow is packing, a roach is hiding on the phone’s handset when it rings and as it attaches to her ear, it strikes a fire and does enough damage to put her in the hospital.


Jim figures out the insects carapaces are air tight, once pierced, it explodes. The insects, he surmises, are under immense pressure on land and that’s why they are so slow. And that oxygen is poisonous to them, as long as they remain on land, they will die off. But now, he wants to breed them and tries to figure out how.


That evening, Carrie (Joanna Miles) (Professor Jim’s wife) burns when a fire bug crawls into her hair and lights it on fire. She runs for help but instead, sets her living room aflame, when she takes off running. At the school, Jim is inconsolable, he destroys the biology lab in anger. And Mark arrives to console him.


The next morning at the site of the pit, most of the fire bugs seem to have died but Jim hears’s one clinging to life, he collects it and puts the specimen in a pressure chamber made from an old diving helmet. He insists on continuing with his breeding experiment. He adds a male common cockroach to the chamber and it’s a success but the male is dead.


Jim transfers the egg case to it’s own containment and later that night, he hears them hatching, burning their way out of the casing. He has bred fire roaches that can now live in our atmosphere. Professor Jim puts their dying mother in the hatchlings’ habitat and they kill her.


Meanwhile, Mark is having a hard time reaching Jim, his wife Sylvia (Patty McCormack) suggests they pop in on him but Mark says no. They should have though because Jim’s creations escaped their habitat and after eating his steak, they start eating him. That freaks him out so the culprits are put in the pressure chamber and euthanized. And the ones in the habitat know it and react to it. They are evolving very quickly, they even learned to communicate with him by spelling out words. And they are breeding.


Mark’s wife, Sylvia, turns up to check on Jim and find the entire house covered in bugs and Jim is nowhere to be found. She’s quickly attacked and makes her way to the shed before she succumbs. When Jim returns, all the bugs are gone and Mark arrives later when his wife doesn’t return. He is concerned by Jim and the condition of the house.


After Mark leaves, Jim finds Sylvia’s remains and when he tries to call for help, the phone line’s been cut. And outside he hears that familiar chattering, the roaches have repopulated and now they can fly. In no time, they are pouring out of the hole and his car is set on fire.


Jim takes refuge in the house and they crash through the windows, setting him on fire. When blindly running outside, he falls into their pit.



This was directed by Jeannot Szwarc and it was a pretty good bug horror! The story moves pretty face and there’s not a lot of filler. The bugs are in most scenes and there are a lot of them. There is also a good amount of bug action and human and animal kills. The effects are also pretty good. This isn’t gory or bloody but there’s a pretty intense cat scene so be warned.


TW: Graphic cat death