Bug (1975)

35mm film, colour, 1.85:1
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Jeannot Szwarc.

Plot Summary

An earthquake rocks a small town in America's Bible Belt during a particularly long, hot summer. The crack that nearly destroys the town spews out thousands of cockroach-like with a rudimentary intelligence and the ability to start fires. College lecturer James Parmiter becomes obsessed with the insects and begins to experiment on them, convinced he can communicate with them. Eventually, The bugs mutate into carnivourous, seemingly indestructible and intelligent blood-suckers that take to the air for a final attack on the town…


Directed by: Jeannot Szwarc
Insect Sequences by: Ken Middleham
© 1975 by Paramount Pictures Corporation
Paramount Pictures Corporation. William Castle's production of
Produced by: William Castle
Screenplay by: William Castle and Thomas Page
Based on “The Hephaestus Plague” by Thomas Page
Director of Photography: Michel Hugo
Edited by: Allan Jacobs
Electronic Music by: Charles Fox
Production Mixer: Jerry Jost
Wardrobe by: Guy Verhille
Make-Up Artist: Tom Miller Jr
Hairdresser: Judy Alexander
Special Effects: Phil Cory
Art Director: Jack Martin Smith
Locations: Riverside, California, USA *
Casting by: Ramsay King

Bradford Dillman (James Parmiter)
Joanna Miles (Carrie Parmiter)
Richard Gilliland (Gerald Metbaum)
Jamie Smith Jackson (Norma Tacker)
Alan Fudge (Mark Ross)
Jesse Vint (Tom Tacker)
Patty McCormack (Sylvia Ross)
Brendan Dillon (Charlie)
Fred Downs (Henry Tacker)
James Greene (Reverend Kern)
Jim Poyner (Kenny Tacker)
Sam Jarvis (taxi driver)
Bard Stevens (security guard)

Alternative Titles

El bicho – Spanish title
Bug insetto di fuoco – Italian title
Chrzaszcz – Polish title
Det får inte vara sant – Swedish title
Feuerkäfer – West German title
Les insectes de feu – French title
Nilviäiset – Finnish title

Extracts included in
Terror in the Aisles (1984)



Daily Express 6 November 1975
The essential Ingredient of successful science fiction films is logic. No matter how absurd the basic idea might be it can be effective if it is worked out in a plausible manner. But this one makes practically no sense at all. […] [A]ll very silly, and rather unpleasant. – from a review by Ian Christie

Evening News 6 November 1975
After killer birds, ravening rats, frogs and giant ants, along comes a plague of to threaten humanity. […] Good science fiction stuff. – from a review by Felix Barker

Evening Standard 6 November 1975
[A] dotty sci-fi shocker […] I particularly relish the scene of the housewife who's going through her cook book recipe for “smoked salmon mousse” as one of the inflammable insects burrows deeper and deeper into her hair. She's cooked under a high flame. – from a review by Alexander Walker

The Guardian 6 November 1975
It's not a film for weak stomachs. Based on Thomas Page's The Hephaestus Plague, it also isn't one that exists solely on shock tactics. The scientist's obsessive study of the unnatural phenomenon is often quietly and intelligently handled, with Michel Hugo's dark-hued photography and Middleham's close-up insect work combining to hint at the inutterable just as well as it faces it head on. – from a review by Derek Malcolm

Daily Mirror 7 November 1975
The special effects may be startling but the plot treatment is daft. […] If those bugs really did possess higher intellect they would have spelled out their verdict much earlier in the film. Just two words: flaming rubbish. – from a review by Arthur Thirkell

Daily Telegraph 7 November 1975
[I]t follows closely the pattern of its immediate predecessor in this genre, “Phase IV” which was at least distinguished by Saul Bass's marvellous photography of ants. […] [T]he film […] just throws together its plot with little coherence or consistency in a way to suggest a faith in the object which, to my mind, is wholly misplaced. […] When the professor finds some [of the bugs] in his own car, in the garage of his country house, he is curiously careless, just bagging a few more specimens for his lab.; and when his dear wife later goes up in smoke, with the whole house, he sees no reason to abandon his study of the bugs which he keeps lively, now, in a pressure chamber. Others kept in an unlocked box escape not once but twice – it's that silly and it goes on to be even sillier. – from a review by Patrick Gibbs

New Statesman 7 November 1975
[I]ts plot lurches around combustible wood-lice, boring little insects at best and hardly helped into gripping or worrying substance by Michel Hugo's crafty photography. Towards the end, they burst out of a hole in the ground – or someone's head – as winged goldfish. Good luck, I say. In the margin, which is where Bug is situated from the outset, is Bradford Dillman, the poor man's Rip Torn. – from a review by John Coleman

The Times 7 November 1975
Bug muddles together elements from The Birds, Earthquake, Willard, The Frogs [sic], and a great deal of wanton silliness. […] The finer scientific points are to the say least elusive. it was directed without any very clear awareness of whether or not it was meant to be funny, by Jeannot Szwarc, from a story by William Castle and Thomas Page, author of the original novel. – from a review by David Robinson

The Daily Mail 8 November 1975
Bug is a ‘disaster' movie. But one disaster isn't enough for Mr Castle. In a relatively modest spine-chiller (by comparison, say, with The Towering Inferno) he manages to include a small earthquake, several explosions and an invasion of primeval, incendiary cockroaches. […] The screenplay, which Castle has co-written with Thomas Page, is partially ludicrous and occasionally intriguing. Bradford Dillman gives us his standard fanatic-on-the-brink portrayal which is always worth watching. As horror films go, if is not as good as it might have been (Castle also produced the superior Rosemary's Baby), but it is not nearly so bad as you'd expect. – from a review (Just take one earthquake, a few explosions, and a nest of primeval cockroaches) by Margaret Hinxman

The Observer 9 November 1975
The bugs close the show by acquiring a whole new range of nasty habits, and we all go home to battle it put with our comfortable British spiders and woodlice. The cast is to be congratulated for allowing itself to be crawled over ad libitum, and Ken Middleham has done his usual wonders with the entomological close-ups. But it would take more than a screenful of feelers to give a film as batty as this the requisite conviction. – from a review by Russell Davies

Sunday Telegraph 9 November 1975
William Castle, never one to leave well alone, piles perverted science upon ecological disaster in Bug. […] Mr. Dillman should have heeded the writing on the wall – quite literally, since the bugs scurry about like the spider of “Charlotte's Web” to spell out their intentions. Had they written “The End” a mite sooner, I should have become an ardent conservationist. – from a review by David Cartell

The Spectator 15 November 1975
It seemed worth describing this film at some length in a bleak week of film going, if only to stop any of you seeing it by mistake. It is, of course, part of the new wave of sadistic films that is replacing pornography in the cinema. You might suppose from my reference to audience laughter that the brutality in this film is unconvincing. But I'm sure the laughter springs from all kinds of mixed emotions, like fear of what is to come or relief that another bit of scorched flesh has dripped its blood and moved on. Maybe I'm wrong, but somehow the whole thing bugged me. – from a review by Kenneth Robinson

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.503 (December 1975) p.257
Bug is not really offering a vision of natural apocalypse but simply another variation on the theme of the mad scientist and the hubris that brings him down. […] The trouble is that while the film is closeted for a good deal of time with Parmiter alone with his bugs, it cheerfully makes no attempt to explain their rapid development through these various stages, in loony defiance of all theories of evolution; the result is that the film is both too vacantly plotted, and too much of a carnival in its special effects, to score as an ecological fantasy on the lines of The Birds (although the ending makes a similar try for a note of unsettling enigma). In the event, Jeannot Szwarc displays an incongruous aptitude for directing actors, since so many scenes just play crudely on the audience's anticipation of the next incineration – a fate, moreover, which seems to befall only the female characters, whether as part and parcel (the screaming Fay Wray syndrome) of the film's generally old-fashioned orientation, or as a sly misogynist delight in a sexist species of bug. – from a review by Richard Combs

Cinefantastique vol.4 no.4 (Winter 1976) p.29
Bug falls just short of being entirely terrible […] It's never clear at any point where the story is going or why it isn't going there. […] The audience has a better time than they do at Jaws, and they shriek much louder. Not that Bug is as harrowing as Jaws – it isn't one-tenth so – but somehow it makes sense to scream at it. We know we're in the hands of a guileless, predictable film, and screaming seems to make the horror scenes go on long enough to be enjoyed, but no so long that they become an ordeal. Bug was a good idea for a William Castle project – it's been a long while since we had a safe, fun, giddy horror movie – but his script and his director constantly betray him, and what should have been a thoroughly fun picture just barely manages to be entertaining. from an illustrated review by James Morrow



  • Cinefantastique vol.4 no.4 (Winter 1976) p.29 – review
  • Film Score Monthly vol.9 no.8 September 2004 p.46 – DVD review (Laserphile: Frightfully good by Andy Dursin)
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.232 no.41 (23 August 1974) p.18 – credits
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.236 no.41 (11 June 1975) p.3 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.503 (December 1975) p.257 – review
  • Movietone News no.43 (4 September 1975) p.35 – review
  • New Statesman 7 November 1975 – review (by John Coleman)
  • Screen International no.11 (15 November 1975) p.12 – review
  • The Spectator 15 November 1975 – review (by Kenneth Robinson)
  • Variety 11 June 1975 p.19 – review


  • Daily Express 6 November 1975 – review (by Ian Christie)
  • The Daily Mail 8 November 1975 – review (Just take one earthquake, a few explosions, and a nest of primeval cockroaches by Margaret Hinxman)
  • Daily Mirror 7 November 1975 – review (by Arthur Thirkell)
  • Daily Telegraph 7 November 1975 – review (by Patrick Gibbs)
  • Evening News 6 November 1975 – review (by Felix Barker)
  • Evening Standard 6 November 1975 – review (by Alexander Walker)
  • The Guardian 6 November 1975 – review (by Derek Malcolm)
  • The Observer 9 November 1975 – review (by Russell Davies)
  • Sunday Mirror 9 November 1975 – review (uncredited)
  • Sunday Telegraph 9 November 1975 – review (by David Cartell)
  • The Times 7 November 1975 – review (by David Robinson)


  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.323 – illustrated credits, review
  • Film Review 1976-1977 by F. Maurice Speed p.162 – credits
  • Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.58 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.47 – credits
  • Horror Films by Subgenre: A Viewer's Guide by Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay pp.160-161 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Illustrated Dinosaur Movie Guide by Stephen Jones p.93 – credits, review
  • Science Fiction in the Movies: An A-Z by Roy Pickard pp.9-10 – credits, note
  • Step Right Up!… I'm Going to Scare the Pants Off America by William Castle pp.247-256 – note
  • Unsung Horrors by Eric McNaughton & Darrell Buxton (eds) pp.10-12 – illustrated review (by Thana Niveau)