An earthquake opens up a crevasse in outside a desert town in California. Emerging fromthe earth is a species of large cockroach that cause fires. Entomologist Bradford Dilman is at firstfascinated by the bugs, but when his wife is burned to death, he becomes obsessed with…well, something (exactly what his motivations are at this turning point in the plot are hard tofathom, and are the film’s major weakness). The firebugs are dying, and Dilman breeds themwith the common c…ckroach, thus creating an even worse horror.
Though Dilman’s reasons for behaving as he does are obscure, his performance is a good oneas he descends from workaholic professor to twitchy madman. The bug attacks themselves arenasty and very effective, guaranteed to make audiences squirm almost thirty years after themovie’s release. This was producer William Castle’s final film, which he also co-wrote (inconjunction with Thomas Page, from his novel The Hephaestus Plague). Unlike Castle’scheery, gimmicky horror movies of the 50s and 60s (House on Haunted Hill, 13Ghosts, Mr. Sardonicus and so on), this is a grim, serious piece. The FX at theconclusion are a letdown after the flawless work until that moment (the insect photography wasby Ken Middleton, who also took care of this end of things with the superior ant movie PhaseIV). Still, Bug remains an strong, moody insect chiller, ripe for rediscovery.
The mono soundtrack at first sounds much older than 1975. Initially, the voices have an oddreverberation, and the overall sound is very harsh. The worst of the flaws fade after the openingscene, however, and the track is by and large acceptable enough.
The widescreen picture starts off grainy, dirty, and soft. The grain and dirt largely disappearafter the opening, but the picture is never as sharp as it might be. The colours are a bit muddy,though they seem accurate for period and budget of the movie. The blacks are variable, and about81 minutes in, they become quite gray and grainy, while a very noticeable flicker sets in.
A very stripped-down disc (I’m sorry, picture and sound do not count as special features),but a worthwhile film, especially for killer insect fans.