Copyright Paramount Pictures 1975
Professor James Parmiter: A college professor who is obsessed with the fire bugs and wants to breed them for whatever reason. Even when they kill his wife, he still is intent on making them breed! He slowly loses it over the course of the movie as he breeds the bugs into an extremely dangerous form. They eventually set him on fire and probably eat him alive; its not really clear.
Norma Tacker: The only daughter of the Tacker family who is strangely able to bounce back to normal after the death of two love ones right in front of her. She goes from a psychotic wreck to a happy and cheery girl in less than 2 days. A bug fries her ear, but I think she survives the encounter.
Professor Mark and Sylvia Ross: Patty McCormack as the wife! A couple who were good friends with James and Carrie. Mark helps James with the research on the bugs. After Carrie dies and James cuts himself off from the world, Sylvia decides to go see how he is doing and makes personal contact with his little roaches.
Gerald Metbaum: A former student of James who is dating Norma. He witnesses firsthand what the bugs are capable of and is the one who brings them to James attention.
Carrie Parmiter: James wife who is a big religious individual. Shes barbequed when a bug gets into her hair.
Cockroaches: These are bugs from somewhere far in the earth and can start fires by rubbing their cerci. They are poison and stomp proof, but are easily killed by the air pressure over time. They have a strange evolution cycle in which they are able to evolve extremely fast over 3 generations. They ultimately evolve in large, red, green eyed (Dont know where they got those genetic traits) firebugs that are carnivores and can fly.
+ Cockroaches are pyromaniacs.
+ Cockroaches are extremely noisy, making very loud scratching noises.
+ Cockroaches get around easily by hitching rides on cars.
+ Cockroaches pop when stabbed.
+ Two different types of cockroaches can make flesh eating cockroaches.
+ The human body is extremely flammable.
+ Setting things on fire makes an electrical shock noise.
+ If you get a bunch of cockroaches together, they glow pinkish red!
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
0 min Boring!!!!
4 min RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A CHURCH!
9 min Music is getting all techno like.
13 min Stupid arsonist bugs.
18 min Biology class is a lot different then I recall.
27 min The film pointed out a plot hole.
35 min Tell that guy on the synthesizer to cut it out!
39 min What took you guys so long?
47 min That facial expression never means anything good.
49 min Thats a rather convenient place for a bug.
52 min RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST HAIR! Also, stop, drop, and roll lady!
56 min Are those even the same bugs?
60 min Hot bug sex! Dont get to type that often.
71 min Sir, there is a latch on the tank for a reason.
78 min Were getting too much static inference!
82 min Well youre f****d dude.
93 min Holy crap! It went from day to night in less than 3 minutes!
97 min These bugs manage to evolve into this form in just 2 rounds of breeding folks.
98 min Huh? Thats it?
Cockroaches: [Forming the words using their bodies] We live.
Based off of a novel, this movie is about killer cockroaches that can start fires. It was directed by the guy who did Jaws 2, Supergirl, and a bunch of episodes of Smallville. The producer was also behind Rosemarys Baby and also directed House on the Haunted Hill and The Tingler. The original composer for this film also did the music for Happy Days and Wonder Woman. Hell, the guy in charge of special effects also worked on Mission Impossible II, Monster Squad, Misery, and even Mannequin! Need I say more? We got to see this!
The movie begins with an earthquake striking a little town in the middle nowhere (Its always in the middle of nowhere, isnt it?) causing lots of damage and leaving a large crack in the earth near Tacker Farm. After surviving the quake at a church, two members of the Tacker family come back from church, only to end up being burned alive after their truck suddenly bursts into flames when the engine stalled! Wow, nothing like getting to the point that bad news is coming.
Somewhere else at night, we see Gerald Metbaum out looking for Norma Tacker, his girlfriend. Gerald runs into her and her brother on the side of the road after their car broke down. I dont know where they were going or why they are going, but Gerald takes them back to their home regardless. We also see, when the group leaves, a bunch of the cockroaches in the tailpipe of the car they were in. (Dont know how they got into the vehicle, seeing how they dont have wings) Then they actually set the vehicle ablaze! Well that explains it
Gerald takes the two home and on the way out, stumbles across the killer cockroaches. He sees the bugs actually roast a cat alive (Thank you movie. That was so needed.) and set a bunch of the bushes on fire as well. Gerald goes to his old biology professor, James Parmiter, to get help on investigating the bugs. He takes the professor to the farm and they collect some of the bugs. After some observations and experiments, they discovers that bugs are blind, feed on ash, and can set things on fire by rubbing their cerci together. Dont know what that is? Look it up and educate yourself. I cant explain everything to you.
We then see a montage of things being set on fire all over the town (I also suspect there is some stock footage being sneaked in there). Those damn fire bugs! James gets a friend, Prof. Mark Ross, to help study the bugs to find out a weakness. Apparently, these bugs are as hard as steel, immune to poisons, and since the bugs are so hard, I suspect they are mostly stomp proof as well. They also point out how they are unsure of how the bugs get around so quickly if they cant fly or move easily. My theory on this will always be teleportation. I am convinced that all killer creatures have teleportation skills after watching so many of these kinds of films
At his home, James discovers a bunch of the cockroaches in his car and makes the conclusion that the bugs get around so quickly because they travel by hiding inside of the tailpipes of vehicles. That doesnt explain how these bugs get into the tailpipes mind you since they, again, cannot fly. James then decides to keep a couple for himself to experiment on. This is so going to come back to bite him in the ass.
After the funeral for the members of the Tacker family; we cut to their home where Norma, her brother, and Gerald are. The family is packing things up to leave when we see a bug crawl onto the earpiece of a phone. The telephone rings (See where this is going?) and Norma decides to answer. How she didnt see the big cockroach when she picked up the phone is beyond me, but as you can imagine, as soon as the bug gets up to her head, it decides to fry her. Instead of swatting the bug off her ear, she just screams and panics. They guys come to her aid in time to save, but she is severely burned in the ear.
James gets a brain blast suddenly and returns back to the Tacker Farm to investigate the large crack further. He grabs one of the bugs and stabs it. It then explodes! He then makes an conclusion that these cockroaches cannot stand the low air pressure on the surface because they lived so far down in the earth before. He concludes that this is why the cockroaches are so slow, cant mate, and are really dying because they cant depressurize.
Since they are going to die, James starts panicking since he wont be able to see them reproduce. Is this really a bad thing? These bugs can light anything ablaze! So he has Gerald make him a pressurized tank to keep some of the cockroaches in so he can study them. Why would Gerald want to do this? The bugs may or may not have killed Norma, his girlfriend!
We then see Carrie Parmiter, James wife, getting killed by a bug. How so? While the bug crawled up her back, into her hair (How did she not notice that?), and then set it ablaze! Now there is a hair disaster! Bad pun, dont need to tell me. She then starts running all over the house, setting everything on fire, instead of putting her head in the sink and turn the water on. With that, she kills herself and destroys an entire house as well. Shame she didnt bother to try to swat the bug out of her hair.
Such things would make a normal person want all the bugs dead, but not James! No, he is a scientist (A rather stupid one at that) and decides to continue on with his experiments after his wifes death. He manages to find a surviving bug after the air pressure killed most of the insects and begins trying to breed it with a regular cockroach. This is a recipe for disaster and should easily result in a Darwin Award at some later point.
Later on, we see old Jamesy has gone coo-koo as his bug research has driven him mad. He manages to successfully breed the two bugs and they lay an egg. James puts the egg into a little tank for further study after it quadruples in size in less than 24 hours. The egg hatches at night and releases tons of mini fire cockroaches that can now survive in normal air pressure! Heck, they even grow into adult size in less than 5 hours!!! Want one more shock? These things are carnivores!
So to sum up, these two different types of cockroaches mated and made one egg. This egg then spawned around 20 hybrids that have both characteristics of both parents, such as being able to start fires. They can grow to adult size in 5 hours and they are even carnivores, which wasnt part of either parents genetic code. Evolution is a funny and complicated thing, isnt it?
As you can imagine, this just breeds trouble. A couple of bugs manage to escape the tank (That he didnt lock or even latch the lock up despite knowing they eat meat) and attack him while sleeping. Instead of killing them all, he continues to let them do their thing inside of the tank. Eventually, more eggs are laid and the bugs start getting smarter. Heck, they start forming words, James name, and even form letters when he asks!
When James is out, Sylvia Ross, wife of Mark, goes to check up on him since he hasnt been around for quite a while and she is worried about him ever since his wife died. She goes inside of his house and is immediately attacked by the cockroaches. One of them lands in her eye (Ew) and starts zapping/burning her. After of bit of randomly panicking and not trying to flick the bug out of her eye like any sane person, she drops dead out of the house.
James returns later that day and discovers the bugs have ditched him and finds the body of Sylvia. Horrified and realizing everything has gone too far, he tries to call 9-1-1 but discovers the phone cord chewed off. He then hears a buzzing outside and goes out, where it is night all of a sudden?! Time flies quickly around those parts.
He heads over to the crack in the ground (He was living at the now abandon Tacker farm) where the buzzing is and to his horror, rat sized flying cockroaches come out! So, we went from firebugs; to firebugs that are carnivorous and very intelligent; and finally to flying, intelligent, carnivore firebugs in just three generations! Evolution people!
The bugs start going after James and he barricades himself inside the house. There, the bugs cut the power (Why not I say!) and then smash their way through the glass in the windows! Damn! With flying bugs eating him and having set him on fire as well, he runs in a panic out of the house and accidently falls into the crevice with every single bug following after him. Then in the most bizarre then I ever seen, there is an explosion when he falls in and then crack closes up once the all the bugs are in, sealing them up for good. The movie credits then start a rolling out of nowhere, leaving me staring at the screen in disbelief.
The film is certainly an odd one. Considering the subject matter, about cockroaches that set things on fire, Im sadly a little underwhelmed by it. Looking to back of the DVD case, it talks about the foot long cockroaches that are setting fires all over the town. Theyre multiply and the death toll is going up so its up to James to find a way to eliminate the bugs before they spread all over the country. None of this really happens in the movie in the way the description tells us.
Instead, we have a bunch of cockroaches about the size of a middle finger that do set fires, but dont multiply until James, our supposed savior, tries breeding them. As such, the story is a bit disappointing if you are going to be watching for that. Its also a bit sad that the movie doesnt give much focus on the bugs as well, since they are really an interesting foe for the characters to face. While we do see a bit of the first forms of the bugs, we really dont see much action for the second form of the bugs (Maybe 2 scenes at best where they attack someone) and the third form where they can actually fly is barely on the screen for even 5 minutes.
The movie also suffers from a bad soundtrack that sounds like a lot of static and a synthesizer were smashed together. It doesnt work much towards the mood in some genuinely creepy and unnerving scenes and can even take you out of the film. Acting is a mixed bag here as well, where people are able to perform to deliver their lines fine, but when it comes for people act dramatic or horrified, its really giggle worthy. Also, dont even get me started on the science and evolution going on in this film.
Still, this film has a lot of things going for it as well. Like mentioned before, the cockroaches are pretty cool foes and are a unique type of threat that I havent seen with most killer insects. We got some good creepy scenes here that can add tension or really get you curious about what will happen next. The last act where James focuses on studying the new bugs he managed to breed is interesting as well; since we get to watch as the character slowly loses it and breaks down. Its fascinating to watch as a once proud and intelligent man, if a little obsessed, slowly unravel after a big tragedy and tries to make the best of it by studying the enemys offspring.
The movie isnt really all that great, but it is a confident little b-movie with some big names behind it that kept it from becoming horrible. I cant say if it is a good adaption of the novel it was based off of, but the movie still works on its own. If you are into killer bug movies, its worth a watch or two.