Call me a cheat but I’m including two films at number 3 in the countdown of “Horror That Made Me” titles. And it’s not like they’re even properly related – like, say, The Star Wars Trilogy or The Godfather and The Godfather Part II would be. Nope, the only connection between these two is that both were released in 1975, went on to become drive-in classics, and burrowed into my young psyche like the creepy crawly creatures they concern. In fact, the pair became practically indistinguishable to my mind as depictions of true insectoid* terror. The movies?
Bug & The Giant Spider Invasion
[*And, yes, I know spiders aren’t insects... but are they insectoid? I’ll leave you to ponder that one as you read the rest of this post, shall I?]
Bug is the better-made of the two films, coming from famed horror producer William Castle and future Jaws 2 director Jeannot Szwarc (currently enjoying a successful career in TV). Its peculiar genius is that it imagines a world where cockroaches are not just disgusting but also burst into flames at will, thereby toasting you on the spot as well as making you go “eww!”. In Bug, you’ll witness the vicious firebugs crawling down someone’s ear hole (hissssss!), hiding in someone’s wig (kaboom!) and scuttling up a car exhaust pipe (kablammy!). And, if you’re seven years old, I doubt any of this is really very good for you.
In retrospect, The Giant Spider Invasion is just plain silly, famously featuring as it does a giant spider that’s actually a VW Beatle covered in fur and with eight wooden “legs” attached, but that didn’t stop me from watching in awe-struck horror when I caught in on TV twenty-something years ago. Even when I re-watched it a few years ago, I have to admit there was a certain jolt at the first sight of the largest spider as it crawls over the roof of a house. And Stephen King is right when he points out in Danse Macabre that the film contains some classic gross-out moments (one of which acts as a warning to anyone carelessly not checking the contents of their blender for spidery invaders before switching it on to make an otherwise delicious smoothie).
So, Bug and The Giant Spider Invasion, I’m afraid I can’t choose between you as to which scared – and indeed scarred – me the most as a young ’un. But count me out for the protein shakes, thanks very much... There’s just a little too much protein in there, if you know what I mean.
Lesson learned: Spiders are not insects.