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15 unsettling insects in movies

10. A ginormous tarantula

The movie: Tarantula (1955) The insect: Time for another arachnid now, this one the biggest of them all. After an experiment in a laboratory goes wrong, a titchy tarantula is given powers that make it grow like a teenager after you've only just taken them shopping for a new school uniform. Deciding it's had enough of life in a lab, it breaks free and heads off on an adventure as Richard O'Brien memorably sings it in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it took to the hills. With compelling effects for a film of this vintage, and a cameo from a baby Clint Eastwood as a fighter pilot sent to bomb the many-kneed menace back to the Stone Age, there's a lot going for Tarantula. Alas, however, it doesn't end well for the hairy beast. On the plus side, fans of barbecued spider had a field day.

11. Lots and lots of tarantulas

The movie: Kingdom Of The Spiders (1977) The insects: More spiders than you can shake a stick at lurk in this lunk-headed nonsense, which is notable for two things. One: it stars William Shatner and although it's hardly his proudest moment, he does his best with a truly awful script. Two: it uses 5,000 real tarantulas, so you don't get that sense of rubbery trickery you find in a film such as Arachnophobia. On the down side, however, not all of those 5,000 spiders made it through to the end of filming (and we don't mean that they sacked their agents and went home). There are clearly moments where you see tarantulas being squished or injured not cool, guys, not cool. As much as the majority of us dislike all things spidery, snuff movies aren't really our thing.

12. More ants

The movie: Empire Of The Ants (1977) The insects: Ants, obviously, who do seem to have an alarming propensity to grow to huge proportions for the sake of making terrible B-movies. This one sees them having a pool party in some radioactive waste, developing the ability to mind-control humans(!), then going on a rampage through a Floridian swamp as they grow beyond the bounds of good sense, scientific accuracy and convincing special effects. The reason this movie hasn't (deservedly) been forgotten for all time is simple: it starred a young(ish) Joan Collins, who gives her all as she runs around in humidity that would've made Dynasty's Alexis go green in fear for her hair, screaming at giant antennae and generally being quite a good sport in a truly, dreadfully, awful film. Well done, Joanie.

13. The Judas Breed

The movie: Mimic (1997) and Mimic 2 (2001) The insect: Submitted for your disapproval: further proof that humans really shouldn't meddle with nature. When they do, we get creatures such as the genetically modified cockroach that starred in two Mimic movies. Created to destroy a swarm of fellow cockroaches carrying a disease that's been wiping out humans, this "Judas Breed" did the job perfectly but one escaped. A few years later, this clever mutated monstrosity has decided that by mimicking humans it can wreak some chaos, and hilarity ensues! Well, for it. For us, it's not really that entertaining. And, sadly, neither are these two films Guillermo del Toro went on to much better things.

14. Scarabs

The movie: The Mummy (1999) The insects: Scarab beetles and Egypt go together like... well, bandages and mummies. So it's only natural that they played a part in The Mummy, albeit mostly in the form of reasonably early CGI that doesn't quite stand up when viewed through modern eyes (rather like the Mummy movies themselves, funnily enough). Still, while these beetles ebb and flow rather unconvincingly, they do get to terrorise the human cast a fair bit, from eating people alive (and dead they're not fussy about whose flesh they gobble up) to burrowing under John Hannah's skin. The offending scarab is then cut out by a scowling Brendan Fraser in a scene that could've been far darker for those looking for some body horror but perhaps the poster for our next film can help with that...

15. Ants (again)

The movie: Phase IV (1974) The insects: This little ant-filled oddity, from an era of cinema that seemed to go hand-in-hand with the consumption of lysergic substances, suffers from an inflated sense of its own importance, trippy editing and a plot that makes about as much sense as a sentence that only contains the words "kangaroo", "telegraph" and "footstool". However, while the story is some peculiar gubbins about ants developing supreme intelligence and possibly prompting the next phase of human evolution, the most remarkable thing about the film is actually its poster. Ignore all the nonsense about aliens (literal false advertising the film has nothing to do with them): this striking image will stay with you for years. And oddly, despite being known for his iconic posters, Saul Bass didn't create this image. This was also his first and only movie, as it flopped so hard it made a dent in the Earth's surface. For more great film and TV news, head to our movie channel or subscribe to SFX.