Monday, April 30, 2018

The Satan Bug (1965)

Just a brief 'Random movie Trailer' today, I'm afraid.  I've been feeling rough all day - my stomach has been badly upset and standing around in a freezing cold wind for a couple of hours this morning, courtesy of work, didn't help - so my original plans for today's post have been put on hold.  I actually felt so bad that I had to go back to bed when I finished work today.  But, to get back to the matter in hand, today's trailer is for the 1965 action/suspense movie The Satan Bug.  The movie, with its plot involving the theft of deadly toxins from a government research laboratory and their use in a plot to hold the US authorities to ransom, has gained a new topicality in the wake of the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury.  At one point, one of the toxins is unleashed on an urban area, without warning, as a demonstration of the villains' intent. 

But the film goes beyond a mere thematic relevance to recent events.  It is actually based upon a novel by a pseudonymous Alistair McClean.  The novel, unlike the film adaptation, is set in the UK and the lab from which the toxins are stolen is a fictionalised version of the UK government's Porton Down micro biological warfare establishment, which, of course, is situated near Salisbury, site of the recent nerve agent attack.  (In point of fact, there are two separate elements to the Porton Down establishment,: the Ministry of Defence's Micro Biological Warfare Lab and a civilian run public health research lab).  Which is why we've had so many whacky conspiracy theories about the Salisbury attack being a 'false flag' operation.

Getting back to the film, I must admit that, despite it always seeming to be on TV when I was younger, I haven't seen it in an age.  That said, as I recall, it was actually a pretty well made movie, very typical of its era in terms of look and plot.  It has its fair share of tense set pieces and moves at a good, steady pace, which is only to be expected from director John Sturges, but, ultimately, springs no real surprises.  To its credit, though, there are several scenes which have lingered in my memory over the years: the helicopter ride over the city attacked with toxin, its residents all fallen dead where they stood, a sequence at an abandoned gas station where the villains try to kill the hero and some government agents (one of whom is Scotty from Star Trek) by throwing a vial of toxin into a room they've been locked in, for instance.  Richard Basehart is the man holding the world to ransom, presumably demanding that his contract to play Admiral Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea be immediately terminated ('I used to have a movie career, for God's sake!  I played Hitler in the film of the same name, damn it!').

Not as good as Sturges' earlier movies like Bad Day at Black Rock, The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, The Satan Bug nonetheless provides a couple of hours of large scale entertainment, its first half desert locations recalling some of the director's earlier work.  Sadly though, it is another of those movies which seem to have vanished completely from the TV schedules.  If youget a chance, it is worth watching.  It's undemanding but entertaining. 



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