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Bug Buster (1998).

January 16, 2009

The Scoop:
There’s something terrific about goofy, campy sci-fi movies. But what makes them especially fun is their dead earnestness. Maybe the parties involved really believe in the quality of what they are doing, or maybe they know it’s all ludicrous but are willing to put in good work for a paycheck. But either way, when talented or even semi-talented people give their all for their material, regardless of its quality, that’s when the magic happens.

When a film tries to be intentionally goofy and campy, that’s when things start getting a little iffy. The folks at Troma — both in their own productions and in the outside productions they choose to distribute — do a good job of walking that thin line, but a lot of others do not.

Producer/director Lorenzo Doumani’s “Bug Buster” is one of them.

The plot is pretty familiar territory — big bugs threaten a small town and it is up to the local teens (including the luscious Katherine Heigl and Meredith Salenger) and a world-famous exterminator (Randy Quaid) to stop them. While there are some good moments, the film is mostly too self-conciously silly for its own good, despite the able cast.

Lord knows why Quaid lowered himself to be in this thing. The same can’t be said, on the other hand, for “Star Trek” alumni James Doohan and George Takei, Bernie Koppell of “The Love Boat” (who has a sex scene — eeew!) and MTV’s Downtown Julie Brown, who no longer had any careers to speak of anyway.

And as if that all weren’t enough, there’s also an aging country band that sings a song called “I Itch.”


Best Line:
“I don’t want to go to the hospital! People die there!”

Side Note:
Filmed in the lovely mountain resort town of Big Bear, California.

Companion Viewing:
“Earth vs. the Spider” (1958), which handles the premise with the old school earnestness it deserves, and “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” (2001), which does intentional camp right.

House of 1,000 Courses.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

Gen. George S. Merlin’s exterminator TV ad:

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