Creepy … crawly … creepy … crawly … creepycreepycrawlycrawly, creepycreepycrawlycrawly … Certainly no one every musically expressed humanity’s inherent fear of the creepy crawlies better than The Who in the 1966 John Entwistle-penned song “Boris the Spider”. This number was an ode to one particular ill-fated spider, but it smartly illustrated the strange, seemingly inborn fear the majority of us have of bugs … yuck!
With the release of Guillermo del Toro’s director’s cut of his buggy nightmare Mimic on September 27th, we at Dread Central have decided to take a look back at ten of our favorite bug-themed films throughout the years. Here they are, numbered, but in no particular order. Entomologists, this one’s for you.
1. Although there are a slew of films we can use to kick this off, I think it’s only right to go with The Fly because it was a hit not for one generation, but two. Also, it spawned three sequels between the two versions of the film so it’s also one of the longest running bug film franchises ever.
Of course the original 1958 film is best known for its ending with the partially transformed Andre Delambre-fly caught in the spider’s web, begging for help. The scientist was as much a sympathetic victim as he was a monster. Things changed dramatically, however, with David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake. Enter the Brundlefly.
Jeff Goldblum created a much more horrific vision in the retelling of The Fly. A more powerful, aggressive and vengeful creature, Brundlefly would go on to be an icon of modern horror.
2. Although a giant partially mutated fly is really off-putting, the true terrors of the bug movies normally come in the form of the swarm. One of the most successful mainstream bug flicks of all time brilliantly utilized the swarm. Arachnophobia with Jeff Daniels, Harley Jane Kozak and John Goodman was a big box office success, combining laughs with a combination of swarming spiders and one bigass boss arachnid at the end.
In that same vein, 11 years later David Arquette starred in a bigger, more elaborate spider movie. Eight Legged Freaks took the CGI route to create the biggest, nastiest army of giant eight-leggers on record thus far.
3. And as spider movies go, Arachnophobia and Eight Legged Freaks could certainly give you the willies, but it was another classic arachno flick that I found much creepier. After watching a video copy of the 1977 William Shatner opus Kingdom of the Spiders, I had a literal freak out attack.
The story goes like this: I was in bed that night after watching the film. Half-asleep, I got that inevitable creepy-crawly feeling that almost obligatorily comes with watching a bug movie. Somewhere between consciousness and dreamland, my brain decided the spiders had come to get me, at which time I leapt out of bed (literally going from flat on my back to standing up straight in less than a second) only to find, of course, no tarantula infestation in my bed. Gods be thanked.
4. Another memorable swarm came in a segment of 1982’s Creepshow. The final tale of the film, written by Stephen King specifically for the film, was entitled “They’re Creeping Up On You”. The fact that E.G. Marshall as the lead character was an obsessive germ-o-phobe made the final attack by a sea of cockroaches that much more repulsive. Honestly, is there anything worse than a head full of roaches?
5. And we must not forget to mention the giant pests of the ’50s. These were the true forerunners of the genre. And due to the fact that the people of that time were completely freaked out by the ever-present Cold War and threat of nuclear disaster, this fear was the origin of some of the best giant bugs. This was the case in Them!. A true trailblazer for the genre, even being nominated for an Academy Award, Them! was the story of an attack by nuclear enhanced ants which would go on to inspire countless giant bugs in the future.
6. One of those huge monsters inspired by Them! would show up just one year later in 1955 to build on the giant insect film genre. Tarantula went right for the jugular, preying on America’s arachnophobia with a gargantuan spider on a rampage. Although the F/X make today’s audiences chuckle, Tarantula was quite cutting edge for the time. And considering it was nearly 60 years ago, we’ve got to take our hats off to the filmmakers. An enjoyable classic.
7. And as far as giant bugs go, no one could lay claim on the title of Giant Bug Hall of Famer more righteously than the one and only Mothra. The veteran of 17 films and several video games, Mothra has been appearing in movies since her self-titled original in 1961. Her battles with Godzilla are legendary, and although technically she must be thought of as a hero, there is no denying the creep factor of a bug that damn big, good guy or not.
8. Of course we mustn’t forget the interplanetary bug. Battling on the planet of Klendathu, the heroes of Starship Troopers were a huge hit at the box office, spawning loads of sequels. The arachnid-like bugs they battled may not have been the inspiration for a lot of sleepless nights, but they were some relentless sons of bitches and pretty rough on the eyes, too … ugh.
9. One of my personal favorite bug movies involves bugs that aren’t actually there at all. Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon took us all on a descent into paranoid madness in the psychological thriller Bug. With top-notch performances by the two leads accentuated by a brilliant Harry Connick, Jr., Bug is a unique and thoroughly entertaining romp through the crazy patch.
10. And we may as well go full-circle here and end the list with Guillermo del Toro’s Mimic. A genetically engineered insect known as The Judas Breed (Doesn’t everything with ‘Judas’ in the title sound kickass? Thanks, Halford!) raises holy hell when the creators of the strain realize they didn’t just ‘die out’ like expected. Now they’ve mutated … and they can do what?! Highlighted by an ambiance that will have you leaving the lights on at night, Mimic definitely delivers on the bug-fueled chills.
There’s a quick ten from the world of insect-inspired dark entertainment. Enjoy the director’s cut of Mimic, and by all means don’t stick your hand in any dark places without looking in there first. There might be something waiting for you. Creepy … crawly … creepy … crawly …
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