I think it’s fair to say that horror fans aren’t a squeamish bunch. For their own entertainment, they look for bloodshed, blood, and grotesques. You indulge in revolt! You will find solace in sadism! Freddy Krueger is a close friend and monsters are a source of comfort. Despite their iron stomachs and stainless steel nerves, there is one thing that even the most intrepid enemy of terror finds annoying: beetles. And I’m not just talking about giants smashing the city. Mundane, picnic-destroying insects are more terrifying for many horror dogs than psychos with chainsaws. The same goes for arachnids and any creature with an alarming number of legs. Creepy crawlers get under our skin more than any ghoul or ghost.
Why are so many of us repelled by these common living beings? Some are fatal, but they say deer is responsible for an estimated 120 deaths each year in the United States, and you don’t see people pulling away in fear at the sight of Bambi. Is it because bugs, spiders and the like look strange? Maybe it’s the unpredictable way some of them move? Are we overwhelmed with things traveling in zombie-like swarms? Scientists have been debating the cause of arachnophobia and entomophobia for years. So don’t expect an answer in this article! I’ll say this: at every creepshow showing I’ve been to, the only segment that really made the audience jump was the one with the cockroaches. And if you dangle a rubber spider in front of the most dedicated connoisseur of cruel media, they will scream blue murder. (Trust me, I know from experience.)
If you have an extreme aversion to arachnids and insects, then immediately stop reading this article. The hideous beings I am about to describe will do nothing to alleviate your fear. As a supporter of the culture of horror, I still consider it my duty to pay homage to these humming brutes. With that in mind, I’m now presenting the ten shabbiest, stickiest crawly animals in the entire horror movie! As a wise Geena Davis once said, “Be afraid … be very afraid!”
1) The Fly (The Fly, both versions):
It’s time to get started with everyone’s favorite copout, the tie. (Sorry.) Both monsters have the same basic story: A transporter of matter fuses a scientist with a faulty housefly, creating a monstrous human-insect hybrid. André Delambre (Al Hedison) from 1958 is cursed with the head and arm of a fly. 1986 Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is gradually turning into a sticky horror. While the two films take up a lot of time (Delambre’s bulbous beetle head is pure pulp from the 50s, and Brundle’s vomiting-inducing meltdown could only have happened in the 80s), both versions show her insect of the same name as a tragic figure, emphasizing her loss Humanity and showed the effects of metamorphosis on their respective lovers. As easy as it would have been to portray the fly as an inhuman murderer who strangles random city dwellers, the two fly films know that a man who turns into an insect is bothering enough on his own. In the 50s or 80s, the bow tie carries the Franz Kafka seal of approval!
2) YOU! (You!):
YOU! YOU?! What are you?! Well, THEY are giant, radioactive ants that started the “giant bug” fad of the 1950s. Although Them! is a really scary movie that plays its core concept as seriously as the grave. Supported by great sound design and Oscar-nominated special effects, the ants known as THEM are as frightening today as they were in 1954. No magnifying glass can burn YOU! No ant trap can stop YOU! When you hear their high-pitched screeching, you know it’s game over. (Speaking of game over, the movie made a huge impact on the 1986 Aliens.)
3) Hercules (beetle):
Bug, the last movie the great William Castle worked on, is a positively stupid but surprisingly effective chiller about mutated cockroaches caused by an earthquake. Thousands of killer cockroaches would be nightmarish enough, but these little creeps can make messages (in English) on the wall with their bodies and burn things with their legs. In one particularly nasty sequence, the roaches set a woman’s hair / head on fire in the Brady Bunch kitchen (yes, in the actual kitchen). Each of these wonderfully annoying cockroaches is very special in my book, though it would appear that William Castle had an affinity with one named Hercules. In the last of his famous publicity stunts, Castle promoted million dollar insurance for Hercules, making him a major insect. Fire on, little fire bug!
4) The Tingler (The Tingler):
If we continue with the Bill Castle theme, we now shudder at the horror of the title of his 1959 magnum opus The Tingler! According to Dr. Warren (played by Vincent Price) the tingler is a parasite that occurs in every human being and causes a “spine tingling sensation” when fearful. How do you destroy it Scream! Scream for your life! It might not be a traditional mistake, but it’s creepy and definitely crawling. Any thing that resembles a centipede and feeds on fear deserves a spot on this list. Plus, it’s the only creature on this list that could affect the real world: the movie was made in “Percepto!” Released, a gimmick that added vibration devices to some theater chairs that transmit the terrible power of the tingler.
5) Janice Starlin (The Wasp Woman):
Roger Corman’s The Wasp Woman has one of the most famous movie posters of the 1950s: a colossal wasp with the face of a beautiful woman terrorizes an unfortunate male victim. It’s a great picture … but it’s exactly the opposite of the monster in the movie! In full insect mode, the wasp woman has the face of a wasp and the body of … you get the picture! Apart from blatant false advertising, the wasp woman is a noticeable animal in the “B” tradition. In human form is the wasp woman Janice Starlin, an aging cosmetic queen who tries an experimental youth formula on herself and transforms into the aforementioned wasp. Susan Cabot plays the role with absolute dignity, which makes the transformation downright devastating. If you want to check out Cabot’s captivating performance and wonderful wasp makeup, the movie is in the public domain so it won’t be difficult to find.
6) Mothra (Various Toho Monster Movies):
Everyone hails the queen of the monsters! Since her debut in the 1961 film that bears her name, Mothra has played a major role in Toho’s kaiju images. In contrast to her scientific-fictional colleagues, Mothra is the stuff of fairy tales: a fantasy goddess summoned by two literal fairies. She is also one of the few Toho Titans who consistently stays on the side of the good guys, defending humanity from harmful predators and malicious monsters. In most of her appearances, Mothra starts out as a giant larva before evolving into her technicolor self, which is an odd mix of cute and creepy. Similar to two twin fairies, we praise Mothra!
7) tarantula! (Tarantula):
There’s no such thing as a bad giant spider movie, but this one stands above the rest. Directed by Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon), Tarantula is top notch science fiction from a master of the genre. The featured creature excretes venom that infects the unfortunate victim with acromegaly, resulting in some really bloody sequences. Plus, the tarantula is the most realistic of the universal monsters … because it was real! To achieve the illusion, footage of an actual tarantula was shot against a blue screen and matted in desert material. This is movie magic!
8) The Judas Race (Mimic):
Guillermo del Toro’s 1997 Yelp yarn begins with a plague spread by cockroaches and from there only gets worse for entomophobes. Evolutionary biologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) creates the Judas race that mimics and kills cockroaches. Everything seems to be hunky-dory … until the Judas race evolves and mimics humans. Although the film has been largely taken away from del Toro, its imaginative style shows up in the Judas race. What looks like a man in a trench coat is actually an elkish insect with a desire to destroy. And that’s why, dear fiends, I don’t trust anyone in a trench coat! For that unsettling sight alone, these bugs are among the best. Are you crushing them or are they crushing you?
9) Understanding ants (phase 4):
Saul Bass was the graphic designer who created iconic, groundbreaking title sequences for films such as North by Northwest, Psycho and The Man with the Golden Arm. Despite his legendary contributions to cinema, Bass has only made one feature film … and yes, it’s about murderous super ants. Equipped with the highest intelligence through a cosmic event, dark ants of various species wage war against humanity, and two scientists try to stop the potential conquerors. This bizarre experiment shows a kaleidoscopic photograph that gives the ants a surreal threat. Most of the film is a game of chess between humans and insects, in which each side tries to outsmart the other. I won’t reveal the ending, but let’s just say that I’m a permanent part of Team Ant. On the one hand, I greet our new insect overlords.
10) The Spiders (Kingdom of Spiders):
Here it is, folks: the last entry on the list, and it’s a treat! Most of the previous bugs here have some kind of quirk or gimmick that turns the insect into something fantastic. The brilliance of Kingdom of the Spiders is that the spiders are just spiders. They don’t need gigantic size or super powers to scare you! All you need for a good scare is hordes of real spiders, networked victims, and a terrified William Shatner. The kingdom is to spiders what birds are to birds. For the arachnophobics, I can’t think of a more terrifying film. The last scene alone should provide enough nightmares to last a lifetime. The only thing more scary than the spiders is the incongruous country songs.
Unfortunately, there were plenty of positively putrid bugs I had to leave out: the ticks from ticks (with beloved teenage heartbreaker Clint Howard), mant from matinee, the bee maids from Invasion of the bee maids, etc. The fact that I don’t have a single one Creature filmed by Bert I. Gordon (the king of the giant bugs) on the final list confuses me! I think that’s because vicious bug films are as numerous as the creatures themselves. I see bug films as a petrifying piece that highlights nature’s potential terror. We all love a supernatural killer or a rusty saw, but the human mind seems hardwired to find the deadly abilities of these real monsters that proudly go in and out of our mouths while we sleep. Jason may get under our skin, but creepy crawlies really can. Good night … and don’t let the bugs bite.