CineTV Contest: Creepy Movies - Bug Buster aka Blattella

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This week on, we are challenged to write about our favorite movie that gives us the creeps. The operative words being favorite and creeps. Thos two words to descibe a movie don’t normally coincide, so I have to make do with writing about a movie that seriously gives me the creeps, and can do justice to in writing about it. And yes, there will be something special for me to share in relation to the film I have chosen.

my copy of the DVD for Bug Buster

Bug Buster (1998) is one heck of a creepy horror/comedy film that really does give me the creeps, and there is only one reason that I have this film in my DVD collection. Okay, more than one reason, but we’ll get to that. The premise of the film is that a lake resort in an unspecified part of the country that might be in the California mountains, or somewhere else that has mountains, lakes and snow in the winter, as a serious problem with mutant bugs, specifically a type of cockroach. People are dying in really weird, and rather grotesque ways, which is one of the reasons this film not only creeps me out, but also creeps out my Bonnie Bride. In fact, she insisted we watch it during the daytime so as to avoid having bad, bug filled dreams similar to the nightmares one of the characters in the film suffers.

Katherine Heigl nightmare scene - IMDB

The character suffering the bug infested dreams is Shannon Griffin (Katherine Heigl) , whose parents recently spent their life savings purchasing a lakeside resort, not knowing it was soon to become bug central. The parents are Gil and Cammie Griffin (Bernie Kopell and Anne Lockhart). The country sheriff (James Doohan!) is concerned and brings things to the attention of the town vet, Dr. Laurie Casey (Brenda Epperson), who is troubled by some of the cockroach discoveries and involves a scientist she studied under, Dr. Hiro Fujimoto (George Takei!). As the mystery deepens and the body count increases, a professional exterminator whose commercials are a hoot to watch (and providing a chunk of the comedy in the film), General George (Randy Quaid). If, like me, you recognized most of the names listed here, you have a good idea why I have a copy of the DVD. I am pretty sure this is the last film that Doohan and Takei made together, although they do not have any scenes together. The mutant cockroach infestation and how a lot of the people die is the stuff that creeps me out.

Bernie Kopell, Anne Lockhart, Katherine Heigl - IMDB

That being said, let’s talk about why Bug Busters is a good film. The cast – there’s a lot of great actors in it, from Trek Vets Doohan and Takei, to Battlestar Galactica (1979) Lockhart, and Get Smart’s regular nemesis Kopell, all delivering on their performances. Then there are the actors who are less familiar, at least to me, but my Bonnie Bride was like – oh she was in this and that, and this person was in this other thing, and that’s Downtown Julie Brown (and I was like who?), she played Katie Cuning, who delivered more comedy relief by being an overly cheerfully perky newscaster making light of the situation. Yep, some humor that helped break the intensity of the film.

Other good aspects include the special make-up effects, and there are a bunch of them, and some of them contribute to why this film creeps me out. But then I am a bit of a softy in that respect, as these types of visuals can wig me out a bit. The humor, especially Julie Brown as the ditsy newscaster and Randy Quaid as The General, who is a bit of an egotistical son of a gun. Overall the story is good, and, according to my Bonnie Bride who read the screenplay (maybe it should be screamplay?), it is tamer than what she expected. For the record, I have not read the screenplay even though I own a copy. Speaking of which…

My copy of the script for Blattella, before it was retitled to Bug Buster

Originally Bug Buster was titled Blattella, but other than people who study insects, not many people would get the title. I sure didn’t until I watched the movie where the insect species, blattella, is mentioned. Yep, fancy word for cockroaches. Anyrate, as you can see, this copy of the script does not leave the house as it is autographed by most of the cast. Missing from the list are George Takei, Anne Lockhart and Randy Quaid. I may have to seek out an opportunity to change that sometime, although I have Takei’s and Lockhart’s autographs on other items. I bought this script at an auction at a Science Fiction convention, either late ‘97 or sometime early-mid ‘98. There are other stories I can tell ya about that. I am pretty sure this is a unique item as I doubt there are many copies of the script out there, and this is probably only one with this many signatures on it.

Although Bug Buster does give me the creeps, it is a film that has enough humor and talented performers to make it worth watching about once a decade or so. And yes, I do recommend giving it a run if only to see Doohan and Takei in the last film they made together.

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