Most of my posts are purely technical, but every now and then I take a look at things that interest me. Like giant insect movies.
One of my favorite sub-genres of science fiction movies are those that feature giant insects. There are a surprisingly large number of such movies, even though most aren’t very good. Most were made during the 1950s, but every decade has quite a few. Here are my 10 favorite movies that feature big insects or bugs.
1. Mimic (1997) – This movie, about genetically engineered insects that are sort of a cross between a praying mantis and a roach, grown to human size, is quite scary. The film is dark and menacing and is easily one of the best big insect movies. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, early in his career, who has done some amazing movies like Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).
2. Them! (1954) – Atomic testing in the desert produces giant ants. The combination of good production values, good acting, and creepy sound effects make this perhaps the most famous giant insect film. The scene where the one lone policeman is left in the store, at night, during a sandstorm, was very scary.
3. Starship Troopers (1997) – OK, so they’re aliens, rather than really insects, but close enough. This film bears little relation to the book on which it’s based (one of my favorites). The film has always received mixed reviews with some people saying it’s political satire and some saying it’s just plain old entertainment. Great effects. My favorite part is when the aliens attack the fortress on Planet P. Excellent soundtrack too.
4. Rodan (1956) – Even though they weren’t the main focus of the film, the giant insects (“meganulons”) that live in the mine where Rodan was buried are maybe the best part of the movie. My favorite scene is when the investigators are heading into the flooded mine, in waist deep water. The narration, by actor Keye Luke, was ominous and really sticks in my memory: “Slowly, relentlessly, we pressed on. We felt we were entering a giant grave. I could still remember the smell of the thing — a cool and evil smell — that sent your flesh crawling.”
5. The Black Scorpion (1957) – After an earthquake in Mexico, people and animals start disappearing. Gigantic gray scorpions. But one of the huge scorpions is black and really big. Great stop motion special effects by Willis O’Brien who did the original King Kong.
6. The Mist (2007) – A bunch of people are trapped in a market, surrounded by strange giant insects, presumably from another dimension. Pretty decent movie, but I hated the ending which was very depressing.
7. First Men in the Moon (1964) – This is an often-overlooked movie based on the H.G. Wells 1901 novel “The First Men in the Moon”. Features a giant caterpillar and insect-like “Selenites”. Terrific special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
8. King Kong (2005) – Although the movie isn’t primarily about giant insects, the scene where the sailors are trapped in a pit with hundreds of horrible giant bugs, is really, really scary and nightmarish. Too realistically graphic for me to watch and I always turn away during this scene when I watch the movie.
9. The Beginning of the End (1957) – Once again radiation is the culprit, this time producing giant locusts. Starred Peter Graves, before his Mission Impossible TV role. Yes, the special effects are really awful, but the movie has a certain charm. When I was young, the scene where the mute scientist was attacked by a giant locust, but he couldn’t scream, was quite scary.
10. Infestation (2009) – This is the only horror-comedy film on my list. I really like the beginning of the movie where the anti-hero slacker main character, wakes up covered in weird webbing with no idea of what’s going on. Giant alien insects. Clever movie.
Honorable and Dishonorable Mention:
In the original King Kong (1933) movie, there was a spider-pit sequence where sailors were eaten by giant spiders, but the scene was considered too grim and was deleted.
The aliens in the creative District 9 (2009) are quite bug-like, but not quite enough for the movie to be a candidate for this list.
Empire of the Ants (1977) is often listed on top big insect movies lists, but I never really cared for the film that much.
The Fly (1986) with Jeff Goldblum is also a frequent top-big-bug movie, but the movie was always a bit too gross for me. Too much goo.
The Deadly Mantis (1957) just barely misses my top ten. An erupting volcano in the Antarctic releases a frozen giant praying mantis.
On another day, the excellent Mysterious Island (1961) featuring a giant Ray Harryhausen bee that seals Herbert and Elena in a cell in the hive, would have made my top 10.
The Garthim in The Dark Crystal (1982) are sort of insect like, but really resemble giant crabs with shells so they don’t quite qualify for this list.
The giant moth in Mothra (1961) has a certain appeal but not quite enough to make my list.
The giant alien that looked like a roach in Men in Black (1997) was nicely done but I’m not a fan of Will Smith and the movie hasn’t held up well over time.