Quit Buggin’ Me! Insect Menaces at the Movies with Arnell

Adam & The Ants - Antmusic

Ant Music by Adam & The Ants*

Although the theory that cockroaches will survive a nuclear holocaust isn’t strictly true (pretty damn close though), these creepy-crawlies will probably be around long after we shuffle off this mortal coil.


Not too long to go at this rate… So, in honour of our insect friends, enemies and would-be successors, I present to you a purely personal selection of movies featuring these ubiquitous creatures. Not every  insect film ever done – and btw, no Archanophobia (1990), cos frankly it bores the ass off me, I tried to watch the flick many times, but I always end up drifting off.


And spiders aren’t insects. They’re arcanids – I know, cos I just Googled it. True fact, as they used to say. So there.




Although the original 1958 picture was not without its moments (some unintentionally hilarious, – but quite shocking in its way), David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of The Fly elevated the material into something very different – and very disturbing.


I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it.  


The Fly - bathroom scene.mpg

The Fly (1958) Help Me! Help Me!


11 years later the bugs were back, handing out some serious aggro to the Starship Troopers, in Paul Verhoeven’s terrific (and very faithful) adaptation of the Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land) novel:

Starship Troopers (1997) All death scenes


Zigzagging back in time to 1964 we encounter the insect rulers of the Moon in Charles H Schneer’s (Clash of the Titans/Golden Voyage of Sinbad) take on HG Wells’ First Men in the Moon, scripted by the very excellent Nigel Kneale:

First Men In The Moon (1964) trailer

Co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, 1997’s Mimic is not one of his best, but’s worth a watch. The director must have liked Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), as he also cast him in 2002’s Blade II.


Mimic Theatrical Trailer

Star Jeremy Northam used to date a friend of mine. If anyone cares. No one? Let’s move on.
For sh*ts and giggles, a bee-related twofer, first up Neil LaBute’s lousy 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, followed by Irwin Allen’s 1978 crap fest The Swarm.  Michael Caine’s salary probably went towards his thriving restaurant business with Peter Langan.

Not the Bees - Nic Cage in The Wicker Man

The Swarm - Melodramatics


Lastly, Phase IV (1974) the only film directed by the great title sequence designer Saul Bass, starring Nigel Davenport, always good value.
A cosmic event of unknown origin brains up ants who form a ‘Hive Mind’ and stick it to humanity.
Yay Ants!

Phase IV Trailer (1974) Saul Bass Director Feature Film - HD Classic Trailers



Got Insectoid villains in Marvel comic books?

Plenty (Annihilus , The Human Fly, Beetle etc), but this ornery critter is my favourite- The Inheritor, a super-evolved cockroach:

Inheritor (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom


Another consequence of on/off bad guy The High Evolutionary’s penchant for buggering up The Natural Law, sad to say.


More insect-related music:




This is a song from under the floorboards
This is a song from where the wall is cracked
My force of habit, I am an insect
I have to confess I’m proud as hell of that fact


Wire "I Am The Fly"

And…of course….

The Beatles - Hello, Goodbye

Oh, OK then..yeah Sting…geddit?

Sting "Fortress Around Your Heart"

*I bumped into Adam a few times in Soho during the 2000s. He was not at his best at the time mentally or physically, slurring his words and pretty much out of it, but he seems to be firing on all cylinders again in recent years.


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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'