I Saw A Film!

In a dusty, hot American town, back in the flared jeans era, there was an earthquake. A huge hole opened up and out came “death’s head” cockroaches. Now, this roach is native to Latin America, but you can get them online for about 30 bucks for a starter kit of a dozen nymphs. They’re popular display insects and often used in university settings for teaching entomology courses. The crawly boogers come out of the big hole in the ground and mysteriously cause fires, apparently by rubbing their legs together, or spraying chemical. Insects don’t do this, by the way, despite many myths to the contrary (had a hard time convincing some Mexican fellows I was working with one time that they don’t start fires!), in fact the film variety set a cat on fire. Meanies!

Soon we’re introduced to the squirrel whisperer. A high school bio teacher who can cluck at rodents and win their trust and make friends with other wildlife. He’s the nearest thing to study the phenomena of these fire-starting bugs. We get lots of close-ups of live and dead boogers and special effects creating flames. Soon enough ladies big hair-dos are catching fire, and inexplicably catching their homes on fire. It’s a real mess.

Then something unusual happens, the Death’s Head Roaches start turning into Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, also for sale all over the place as nifty demo insects, and our high school biology teacher starts to get bearded and weird. Soon his talking to the animals skills have him conversing with the roaches who line up on the wall to spell out words! Now, this is a cute thing as producers of this movie had to actually wrangle these live boogers into words, they worked their butts off and used reverse film and likely stuck some of them in place with gum or something, but live roaches spell out “we live” and a couple other equally poignant phrases. He also discovers that they are eating nothing but meat now, and the good bio professor gets chewed on a bit too. The professor also makes some irritating claims about the “bugs” that any elementary school kid could disabuse us of.

Some fun facts about insects (I’m an entomologist by training): 1. Insects are not sealed, they are in fact permeated by spiracles that carry air into the body and actually make contact with every living somatic cell – which is a reason arthropods can’t get very big as having an open air respiratory system like that requires tiny tubes going to everything — hard to do if you get dense (surface area needs to be much bigger than volume). 2. Insects are covered in wax which has a melting point of 130 degrees F. this wax is meant to keep moisture in, but obviously would be in some serious danger close to high heat. 3. Despite being called “bugs” its’ a misnomer for insects with chewing mouthparts – bugs are purely the insects with tube shaped mouthparts that allow them to suck juice from plants and other critters. But Americans often use the term bug to imply any insect.

OK that out of the way, these nearly indestructible insects are being PLAYED by a couple of species of popular pet insects and should not be mistaken for what they actually look like. If you are easily creeped out by crawly critters then this movie will supply the horror effect. Except there’s no obligatory sexy shower sequence! Dammit. Call yourself a horror movie will you?

Running free on PRIME USA! I only wish they’d given the roaches wee little voices to challenge their human foes with. But I suppose that would have undermined the lost human skills of communing with nature that our professor was so adamant about telling his charges about. I miss the 70s for these sappy environmental/spiritual messages. Now go step on some roaches!

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