The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is staging the 30th annual Insect Fear Film Festival on Saturday, February 23rd. All films will feature insects, spiders, or scorpions. They aren't necessarily new movies, and they aren't necessarily great movies. They aren't even necessarily movies, because at least one feature this year is a TV episode (“War of the Coprophages” from season 3 of The X-Files). National Geographic's Pop Omnivore Blog talked with the founder of the festival, Department of Entomology head May Berenbaum.
I imagine most insect films meet the criteria of non-excellence. Is there anything above a grade B film in the genre?
The granddaddy of them all is Them! A 1954 film about an encounter with a race of giant ants. It was nominated for an Oscar and was Warner Brothers’ biggest grossing film that year. Angels and Insects (1995) won an Academy Award for costumes. Many big actors got their start in bug films. Clint Eastwood appeared as the jet pilot in Tarantula (1955). Leonard Nimoy appears in Braineaters (1958).
Are there trends in insect films?
In the 1950s big bug films were popular—oversized insects made so by radiation. What causes the mutation differs with the era. Genetically engineered big bugs came in the 1990s. In the 1970s, swarms were popular.