Are you tired of monster movies where everyone acts mildly sane? I doubt you would be, not many of them exist; nor is Bug Buster one of them. The characters of most monster movies would be prime candidates for a Darwin Award, if they covered fiction. It’s a real problem in horror, even modern horror, where the overall enjoyment of the film sees a major negative detour once characters start acting like idiots. Would you open a door that had a bloodcurdling scream come from behind it?
Of course, if that’s your cup of tea, all the power to you; but I have a hard time retaining the feeling that it’s supposed to be a horror experience. Bug Buster, also known as “Some Things Never Die”, is enjoyable because it doesn’t have the luxury of being a serious horror movie. I’m still unsure if it is intentional or not however. In some instances it feels like crafted satire, while in others it feels unintentional. If you decide to watch Bug Buster, the best way to take it in is as a Quota Film.
A Quota Film (QFilm) is a term I use for the concept of a film being made to allow for all involved filmmakers and actors to fulfill their quotas to stay in their respective guild(s). Admittedly, a rumor of film guilds, these kinds of productions make sense. Why else would Randy Quaid or George Takei star in a movie like this? QFilms are characterized by a script that would never get an agent’s attention, have a campy feel, and star actors that wouldn’t be here if this production wasn’t SAG approved.
It may look like I’m ragging on the film, and that’s true for the pre-production. The rest is a fine experience that follows the spirit of this column. If it’s here, treat it as an unintentional comedy. Even at the times when the movie feels synthetically campy.
Bug Buster is the story of Shannon Griffin moving to the remote town of Mountview. Shannon’s family purchased the local Inn, and is slowly learning about the town, including local legends. One involves a mysterious death the local lake, which just so happened to have skinny dippers in it last night report something strange brushing against them. The non-human anatomy kind of strange.
Shannon doesn’t like the fact they moved, solely due to her father being laid off; forgetting the fact they were wealthy enough to purchase an Inn. Seeking friends, she meets the male skinny dipper and begins to fall for him. The female skinny dipper arrives to set up the worst love triangle imaginable. Imagine a V, with one connecting line being one way. Suffice to say in this film, there are not enough red flags in the world to pin to this woman.
You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned their names. They are characters that only serve the purposes of terrible character development and plot advancement. One dimensional, and fairly lifeless. This also goes for the scientist character Dr. Fujimoto. Picture the most stereotypical Asian scientist, including accent and perversion, and you have George Takei’s character. All characters in this movie are fairly flat, and it’s a tossup whether you will enjoy them or not. One character however, has brief appearances until the second half of the movie, saving the film from my shredder. But in order for him to show up, an epidemic has to occur.
The titular bugs that need bustin’ are an offshoot of cockroaches, but severely mutated. They survive in wet areas, and spawn – explosively – underwater. They come out at night, and attack the populace; taking the flesh and moisture of their victims with them. Forget locking your doors, lock your sinks, lock your toilets. They’re everywhere, and will strike anywhere it’s dark. Just ask Shannon’s parents, who were in such an amazing post-coitus after-glow that they didn’t notice they were being eaten alive. Insert your own jokes here.
So the town’s been declared an epidemic hot-zone, and closed off; no entry in or out. Except if you’re an exterminator. Once General George appears, the movie goes from ‘meh’ to absolutely entertaining.
General George is the saving grace for Bug Buster, and that is done via having George being a sociable psychopath. George is an alleged veteran with a comical obsession with violence. Shortly after discussing the bugs with Shannon and her not-yet boyfriend, he finds a lobster on the shore of the lake and flambe’s it immediately with his flamethrower; yelling out a battle cry as he does it. If you love cheesy one-liners, George will have a spot on your favorites list.
The town is slowly succumbing to the infestation, and it’s up to the trio to find out the source. The old town mines are determined to be a likely spot. Met up with by a veterinarian and the town deputy, they find the egg chamber, and the town sheriff. He’s gone mad, and wants the town’s property rights for cheap. It’s at this point the movie cemented itself to me a QFilm, as I cannot see anyone writing the following sequence without seeing it for how utterly awful it is.
I won’t touch the ending, as it contains some of my favorite scenes in my collection. Regardless, Bug Buster is a movie that is worth watching for one character alone. Similar to Satan’s Little Helper, Bug Buster can be considered an Atlas movie, but it could stand alone without George. It just would be mediocre. Just remember that if you have a pest problem, call 1-500-KICK-ASS to find the local exterminator in your battlefield. Tell them the General sent you. As you were.
Cody Poirier is an Entrepreneurship major, and is the Lifestyle section editor, business manager and a critic for the University Chronicle. He wastes his time so you don’t have to.