Bug Buster (1998)

Bug Buster (1998)

There’s something creepy in the neighbourhood…

A small lakeside community is plagued by killer cockroaches which can grow up to ten feet long. So the townspeople call in an over-the-top exterminator from TV to try and solve their bug problem.

 

If you ever wondered how badly George Takei and James Doohan needed work after their Star Trek films dried up then look no further than Bug Buster, a dopey ‘monsters on the loose in a small town’ flick which desperately tries to sell itself as the next big cult B-movie but fails in almost every aspect. Takei and Doohan are slumming badly in this hokey effort that assumes that being inept and goofy every two minutes is the key to becoming a funny horror parody.

There’s nothing to distinguish Bug Buster from the dozens of other creature feature films released in the 90s, save for the two Star Trek alumni present. It sticks rigidly to the traditional templates that these films follow and there’s little deviation from the well-walked path. Shady business dealings that need to go through regardless of the presence of the monster. Corrupt local authority figures desperately ignoring the threat of the menace. Townspeople that no one will believe until it’s too late. And you can keep going. Unfortunately whilst treading this path, the pace of the film is hellish slow. It takes ages to get into gear but stops and starts too many times.

When a film seems more concerned with referencing other films instead of getting its own house in order first, you know that there’s a definite sense of missed priorities. We know that the writers have seen Jaws because the film follows the typical monster-on-the-loose tropes but just to be on the safe side, it actually has the sheriff mention the film in speaking. There are also references to Outbreak, A Nightmare on Elm Street and strangely enough, The Wizard of Oz. It all adds up to make a mockery of the script, which flits between the moronic and the monotonous. You get the constant sense that Bug Buster is trying too hard to be liked.

How do the Star Trek alumni fare? Not great it has to be said. Takei is too eccentric and stereotypical as the slightly off-beat Japanese scientist and never actually shares a scene with anyone else in the film. He’s off in some lab somewhere and is being contacted by one of his students for help. Doohan, well, he’s even worse as the town sheriff. The Scooby-Doo style revelation at the end of the film is so badly under-acted and was begging for someone to do a moustache-twirling villain-like explain all diatribe. Doohan just isn’t comfortable trying to be an asshole and it shows with his weak delivery. I don’t think he was comfortable ‘interacting’ with the CGI bugs either, flailing his arms pathetically as a CGI bug attacks him late on. But hey, at eighty year old when he filmed this, I can’t knock him too much as he is given one of the bigger roles. But I think name value was more important when he was cast and the fact they could slap another Star Trek name on the cover was obviously higher on the attributes list than acting talent.

Topping off the scales of the bizarre casting is Randy Quaid. He’s clearly been at the coffee again and brings his usual brash, loudmouth, in your face attributes to the role of General George, the bug exterminator, and clearly some sort of poor man’s imitation of John Goodman’s character from Arachnophobia. At least Quaid is consistent in his performances so you know what you’re going to get. Quaid pops up quite often in the commercials on TV but doesn’t get to battle the bugs until the very end which is a bit of a shame. As manic and annoying as he can get, at least Quaid knows what he’s starring in and attempts to inject a bit of life. A young Katherine Heigl also stars.

The bugs themselves don’t get a lot of screen time, a mixture of CGI monstrosities and real-live bugs. There are a couple of scenes involving the real bugs which will have you squirming in your seat but all of the CGI moments are too badly rendered. Take for instance the giant ‘mother roach’ which attacks Doohan’s sheriff character late in the film and never once looks like it’s doing anything to him. There is plenty of and blood and goo but it’s more icky than outright horrible.

 

Bug Buster is simply bottom rung drivel. The cast is poor, the special effects are beyond awful and the film fails to provide any degree of entertainment save for the laughable sight of Takei and Doohan really badly needing a better paid gig.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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