Bugs (2003)

Contains some spoilers.

Nothing to do with any wise-cracking Bunny, this film features a very different kind of cartoon-like animal. When a cop is attacked in a dark tunnel by a giant creepy crawly and assumed to be the victim of a serial killer, FBI Agent Antonio Sabato Jr is called in to investigate the case.

mandibles like theseBut the injuries don’t make sense, nor the slimy goo on the body (highly corrosive to everything except ballpoint pens, apparently). So he seeks help from a hot lady entomologist, convincing her by pouring acidic insect snot over her sandwiches. She studies the chewed up body, and suggests the bitemarks would have been made by a set of badly drawn mandibles.

Meanwhile the standard issue powerful-but-greedy baddie refuses to shut down the tunnel. A group of VIPs are about to celebrate it being “half built” (?!) by riding a subway carriage bedecked with streamers into the tunnel – where it will presumably reach a dead end, stop, and reverse out again. Way to impress people! Naturally, warnings from the experts are ignored, the streamers turn to screamers, and the posh visitors become hors d’oeuvres for the prehistoric giant insects.

A SWAT team is sent in with Agent Sabato Jr and the science woman – and then the fun really starts! People shoot guns, get attacked by giant bugs, make bad decisions, go mad, and explain science through the metaphor of sea monkeys.

critters chasing the train

There are lots of monsters, explosions, and a surprising amount of gore. The special effects vary from pretty effective (views of the insects early on, the human gore) to the amusingly poor (some obvious uses of greenscreen and CGI.) And you have to admire things like the metal fencing that falls perfectly flat over its victim, thanks to some fortunately shaped cuts in the wire.

The climactic scenes remind me a lot of Aliens. Except Sigourney Weaver’s spacecraft cargo loader is replaced by a forklift, and the terrifying Queen Alien here is a sort of big fly. In fact, if you imagine Aliens being set underground, there are a surprising number of similarities. And other sci-fi movies come to mind too. That’s not meant as a criticism – there are tried and tested formulas. After all, what is Aliens if not a well-made b-movie with a bigger budget? Bugs might not be in the same league, but it certainly has the same heritage.

I thought this was an enjoyable example of a b-movie, complete with the usual mix of monsters, gore, cheesy dialogue and cut & paste characters. (The handsome hero, the devious capitalist, the scientist, the bloke who goes mad, the pretty lady in peril, etc.) It has a good, fast pace, and it kept me entertained (and chuckling) throughout.

 

Bugs (2003) is available to purchase from amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, play.com and other retailers. 

Bugs/2003/Universal Pictures/Dir: J Conti/Prod: D Rappaport

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