Monday, August 5, 2013

10 Giant Insect Invasion Movies


Mars Attacks: Invasion
 
 I was reading a Cracked article about mosquitoes being 20 larger than usual this summer and it got me thinking. Aside from adding bug spray and mosquito coils to my shopping list, the first thing that popped into my head was the movie Mansquito. While it wasn't a particularly good movie by any stretch of the imagination, it did feature a concept that I'm sure many people find absolutely terrifying. GIANT ass bugs. I'm a huge fan of "science gone wrong" movies and the idea of being attacked by giant insects is something that I'm sure makes many people's skin crawl. This is a genre that I feel could use some new entries (and NOT that SyFy channel original crap)


Arachnophobia (1990) - Harry Dunne from Dumb and Dumber and his family move into a small town that is being terrorized by a swarm of extremely aggressive spiders. A mean ass Amazonian spider stows away on a boat then mates with domestic spiders to spawn a breed of deadly spiders with a poisonous bite. The only really big spider is the mean daddy spider but this movie effectively creeped out a generation of movie goers. Those that didn't already have arachnophobia probably developed it thanks to this movie. (Kinda like what Jaws did for the beach)


Ticks (1993) - After being exposed to steroids that pot farmers were using to grow their marijuana, a bunch of ticks grow to mutant proportions and terrorize a group of juvenile delinquents that are out on a wilderness retreat. Their eggs are about the size of footballs and hatch into mutant ticks the size of that mean daddy spider from Arachnophobia. However, the mother of all ticks bursts though Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air like it was wearing a breakaway Carlton-suit. No CGI here folks, everything is done with beautifully cheesy practical effects and is actually pretty gory. 


The Fly/The Fly II - In David Cronenberg's body horror remake of a 1950's science-gone-wrong film, starring Vincent Price, Jeff Goldblum plays a scientist experimenting with teleportation technology when he accidentally gets his DNA crossed with a housefly. This results in a horrible mutation where he slowly starts losing his teeth and hair but develops the ability to walk on walls and predigest his food by vomiting on it first (Yummy!). The sequel (from a different director) doesn't quite live up to the original but still features a pretty nasty looking fly creature. I think I would soil my underwear if I ever saw a human-sized fly. Then again, that would probably just make me more appetizing.


Eight Legged Freaks (2002) - This movie gets a lot of crap for being a bad movie. I'm not really here to defend it but you could probably tell from the trailer that this was meant to be a parody. Not an all-out Scary Movie-style parody but a tongue-in-cheek homage to 1950's Sci-Fi movies like The Black Scorpion, Them!, The Deadly Mantis, and of course... Tarantula. While this movie might be infested with bad CGI, it still manages to be more entertaining than a majority of SyFy original films.


Mysterious Island (1961) - How could I really make a list about giant monsters of any kind without mentioning the late Ray Harryhausen. The man was a special effects MASTER and his influence on the industry (and people!) was legendary. The man will always be remembered as the king of stop motion animation and for bringing monsters to life long before CGI was around. He captured the imaginations of millions and influenced some of the greatest filmmakers of our time. Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park), Peter Jackson (King Kong, Lord of the Rings), and James Cameron (Avatar) have all credited Ray Harryhausen as being an inspiration. This movie is about a group of men who escape a prison camp in a hot air balloon only to be caught in a storm and landing on a Mysterious Island. After exploring the island, they realize that it is inhabited by extremely large creatures such as a giant crab, prehistoric birds, and... GIANT BEES!!! There is an amazing scene where a man and woman are enclosed in the honeycomb that just has to be seen to believe. Ray Harryhausen will always be remembered for his great contributions to cinematic history.


Mothra - Although typically billed as a guardian than a destructive monster, Mothra was originally worshiped as a deity on Infant Island. Usually accompanied by two tiny women that I believe are supposed to be fairies, they can communicate with Mothra directly and sing her songs to lull her out of her egg or cocoon. In her adult stage, the flapping of Mothra's enormous wings are enough to blow cars away, tear roads out, and knock buildings down. She also seems to be impervious to military weapons. Not typically malevolent, Mothra will only attack to get the two small girls back or to protect the environment from too much pollution or nuclear testing. If necessary, Mothra will also sacrifice herself in order to protect her egg and hatch the next batch of Mothra larvae.  


Men in Black (1997) - An 11-foot tall space cockroach with a penchant for stealing skins and galaxies is quite possibly the most horrifying thing imaginable. Taking a page out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the first thing it does after landing on Earth is devouring a farmer and wearing his skin like a Halloween costume. This intergalactic bug can apparently speak fluent English, has unlimited strength, and did I mention he can eat people? In one bite. Most people are grossed out by roaches but can you imagine one so big that it can swallow you whole? Yeah, I don't need to sleep... ever again.


Tremors (1990) - Worms are typically pretty harmless creatures, they do their thing in the ground and really only come out when it rains. Could you imagine one the length of a bus that can pull a mid-sized sedan into the ground with it? The creature I'm referring to are called "Graboids" and they hunt underground by sensing seismic vibrations. Only coming out of the ground to make you shit your pants, these giant worms have smaller saw-toothed worms that come out of its mouth (Wormception!) to grab and pull prey into its enormous mouth. These things are blind because they primarily hunt underground and can move extremely fast in dirt or soil. Despite being immensely strong, they are incapable of burrowing through solid rock or thick slabs of concrete. This was one of my favorite movies of all time as a kid and provided a new spin on the game, "The floor is lava."

This thing looks like a spider that came out of Silent Hill

The Mist (2007) - Although they're not really bugs as much as they are monsters from another dimension, they're bug-like enough that I want to include them on this list. Another reason that I wanted to include them is because this was one of the few movies that actually sent a shiver down my spine when I saw it in theaters. The movie wasn't particularly terrifying but some of the scenes where the bigger monsters stomp by (like when they're in the car watching it walk past) really got to me. The mist just made it even creepier because then you couldn't see them coming. As scary as giant insects are, the unknown makes everything scarier because your imagination is free to run wild. An unknown number of giant insects, and other monsters, hidden in the mist is just pure nightmare fuel.


Starship Troopers (1997) - Finally, we come to THE giant insect invasion movie. I'm sure this movie was the first to pop into your mind when you saw the title of this article. In this movie, humans are at war with a race of alien bugs. The sheer volume and variety of these bugs is what makes them so terrifying. The arachnid soldier bugs have scissor-like hooked mandibles that can sever limbs and puncture body armor like a combat knife through marshmallows. There are giant armored bugs that come out from underground and spray napalm from their heads, flying bugs that can swoop down and snatch up soldiers, and bugs that have ass cannons that can fart plasma blasts way out into space. There's even a "brain bug" that's telepathic and sucks brains straight out of human skulls. This is how I would imagine a full-scale insect invasion would work, we'd have absolutely no idea what we're up against or what they're capable of. Our military would be overwhelmed by their numbers and if they attacked first... we would be in serious trouble.


While I'm sure we're all grateful that insects don't actually grow to these extreme proportions, whether through botched science experiments or from the dark recesses of space, insects really do get kinda big in real life. The scariest thing about these Science Fiction movies was the possibility that it could actually happen. During the Cold War era, the threat of nuclear warfare terrified civilians and thus popularized the giant mutant insect genre as a result. Nobody knew if prolonged exposure to the radiation from the nuclear fallout could really mutate living creatures. Nowadays, we just write it off as purely fiction and move on with our lives. Probably for the best, most of us are better off not knowing about the giant creatures that actually share this planet with us.