Co-written and produced by William Castle (it was, like, William Castle week at my house for some reason. I briefly thought about watching House on Haunted Hill again, but then remembered how much ass it sucked), which might be a bad sign, but then again, he produced and almost directed Rosemary's Baby which is pretty much the shit so... you know...
After an earthquake, a bunch of bugs which can start fires crawl up from the bowels of the earth and start wreaking havoc. They particularly like crawling inside the exhaust pipes of cars, and also going inside peoples ears and setting themselves alight. Why? I don't know. It's so mysterious.
Like The Tingler, this movie is conceptually sort of interesting, but it's not executed very well. I mean, it's made well enough. It feels like a made for TV thing and the acting is a little over the top, but it's alright. It's just that (like any of the movies I watched during William Castle appreciation week) fucking nothing happens for the longest time.
I really did think it was interesting from a pop-science point of view. I don't know how much of it was remotely based on fact, but they made it sound convincing enough and they spent a lot of time talking about how the bugs worked and stuff. What they ate and why they did what they did. While that kind of thing is probably not terribly interesting to the average viewer, I find it really fascinating. Because I'm a fucking loser.
But the movie rambled on and on and on. It started out being sort of about this horrible plague of crazy ass fire bugs and the science guy (Bradford Dillman) trying to find away to exterminate them. That went on for, like, an hour. Then the guy's wife (Joanna Miles) gets set on fire by one of the bugs and, because they didn't teach her the stop drop and roll method in school, she burns to death, also managing to burn the house down. Fail.
So then the science guy becomes the enemy of humanity (I guess. There's actually this one scene where he turns evil. It's really hilarious) and goes crazy in the desert, breeding a new strain of the bugs which develop psychic powers and a taste for human flesh or some weird shit like that.
It feels like two totally unrelated films, complete with meandering, seemeingly random plot elements. Actually, it feels like a series of unrelated scenes. This effect was enhanced by the fact that a lot of stuff didn't really make any sense at all, and I couldn't tell the difference between a lot of the actors. I kept going "hey, didn't that guy die?" or "who the fuck is that - oh, wait, yeah, it's her". But there you go.
However, the film is worth watching for the aforementioned scene in which one of the characters gets a firebug in ehr ear and runs around screaming for, like, ten minutes. Gross, but awesome.
Anyway, it was way more interesting than that weird fucking movie with Ashley Judd. Way more laughs anyway.
Directed by: Jeannot Szwarc. Written by: William Castle and Thomas Page based on the novel The Hephaestus Plague by Thomas Page. Starring: Bradford Dillman, Joanna Miles, Richard Gilliland, Jamie Smith Jackson, Alan Fudge, Jesse Vint, Patty McCormack.