The monstrous insects of these films make the spider in the corner of your room look like a cute puppy.
The fear of bugs, be it spiders, ants, grasshoppers, bees, or any other critter you can think of, is a reflection of our primal survival instinct. According to an article from The Cut, some of the main causes behind this fear are caused by the fact that some of these insects do represent a threat to our lives because they are venomous or carry diseases. However, one of the essential features of this fear is that it often goes hand in hand with disgust. Flies and cockroaches, for instance, represent filthiness, and while some spiders, scorpions, and other insects can bite you, we can also be disgusted by the way they move, their anatomy (I mean, their eight eyes and legs and the fact that some of them even have claws doesn’t make them cute at all), and their tendency to visit us when we least expect them also makes them particularly scary. Now, if even a mild and common situation like an unexpected visit from a spider while you’re taking a shower is scary enough, it’s no wonder that many film directors have taken these critters to create blood-curdling movies about killer bugs that’ll make that wild spider in the corner of your room look cuter than a puppy. Insectophobics, beware, because we’re about to take a look at some movies that show why bugs are the best nightmare fuel.
Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
While this is definitely a B-movie, creating scenarios so exaggerated and far-fetched that they’re funny, it plays with a very real fear: arachnophobia. Imagine what would happen if one day a chemical accident made those tiny spiders turn gigantic. Well, that’s the plot of Eight Legged Freaks, a movie that’ll show you there’s no reason to be really afraid of these bugs, unless they’re the size of a car and very hungry.
Co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, this sci-fi horror film based on a short story by Donald A. Wollheim tells the story of an entomologist who creates enormous insects to kill cockroaches that are spreading a disease in New York. However, when the genetically engineered insects eradicate the cockroaches, they start feeding on the closest prey in the city: humans. In this film, you can expect del Toro’s masterful depiction of monsters in creatures that are both alluring and disgusting.
Starship Troopers (1997)
Going back to sci-fi, while this movie doesn’t belong to the horror subgenre, it does have stomach-churning gigantic bugs that will surely make you cringe, if you’re not an insect lover. This satiric movie shows humanity’s struggle against a race of alien bugs that attempt to destroy Earth. While on the surface the film seems to be all about explosions and heroic teen soldiers, it is actually a political critique against right-wing extremist views, the praise of violence “for a greater cause,” and the colonialist attitude of many Western countries. Maybe this food for thought can help you cope with the rain of insect blood and guts that fills the screen throughout the film.
Naked Lunch (1991)
What happens when you mix the psychedelia of William S. Burroughs’ works with David Cronenberg? You’re sure to expect a stomach-churning masterpiece, as is the case of Naked Lunch. In this story, Cronenberg exemplifies his masterful way of depicting bodies in extreme and disgusting conditions through the humanoid features of the bugs and the emphasis on other cringy aspects of their anatomy. This film, focused on a bug exterminator who starts using his insecticide as a drug, explores the weirdest corners of the mind while featuring the revolting aspects that make insects so feared and abhorred.
The Fly (1986)
It seems that Cronenberg had a thing for the visceral aspect of bugs. Of course, we can’t forget about his masterpiece that shows the nauseating nature of flies in extreme proportions corrupting the human body. The Fly is a sci-fi horror movie that tells the story of Seth, a scientist who creates a machine that allows teleportation. However, his experiment goes wrong when a fly slips into one of the pods while he is teleporting, so their genes fuse. Eventually Seth starts turning into a horrid fusion between man and fly that is sure to remain stuck in your head for a while. I’d suggest not watching this movie while you’re eating.
Now, going back a few decades, the classic example of “big bug” movies, Them! is a movie you can’t miss if you’re into gigantic monsters attacking cities. After finding a little girl wandering in the desert, the police of a town in New Mexico start investigating the incident, only to find out that she and her family had a dire encounter with a nest of gigantic ants, the product of atomic bomb tests that were taking place in the desert. Now, the police will have to fight these creatures before they start destroying the closest cities. While the special effects might seem outdated to us, the way the giant insects move, and their depiction is sure to give chills to anyone who hates just looking at the uncanny appearance of these bugs.
The Mummy (1999)
I know this movie doesn’t revolve around insects at all. However, I had to include it because of the blood-curdling role of beetles in this film. You can see it from the beginning of the movie. Imhotep, an ancient Egyptian priest, is condemned to be mummified alive after trying to perform a forbidden ritual to bring his lover back to life. As if the sole thought of being buried alive isn’t frightening enough, after Imhotep is put in his sarcophagus, his executioners put a swarm of scarabs that slowly eat his flesh. Throughout the movie, these lovely bugs will keep appearing every once in a while, eating anything and anyone who crosses their path.
These movies know how to exploit our primal aversion to insects, bugs, and anything that crawls. Even if you feel you aren’t insectophobic, these films will definitely make you reconsider.
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