DISCOVER--ten classic giant bug movies

After the phenomenal success of the extraordinary and powerful giant ants film Them in 1954, producers scrambled to unleash other oversized insects on a terrified populace, and pretty much every real-life bug-eyed monster got its chance over the next ten years. Very often the stories followed exactly the same path as the original, inaugurating the clichés of the genre as they went. These expectations, almost always fulfilled, became part of their charm. So grab a super-sized can of bug spray and settle down for a series of remarkably similar encounters with multi-legged creepy crawlies '50s-style. This list is in alphabetical order.
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Beginning of the End (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.5/10 X  
Audrey Ames, an enterprising journalist, tries to get the scoop on giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm... (76 mins.)
Director: Bert I. Gordon
“ An unfairly maligned giant locusts yarn starring Peter Graves of Mission: Impossible fame. Much better than some would have you believe. Never a dull moment, and cleverly done for its time. ” - jonabbott56
The Black Scorpion (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
Volcanic activity frees giant scorpions from the earth who wreak havoc in the rural countryside and eventually threaten Mexico City. (88 mins.)
Director: Edward Ludwig
“ Okay, the least impressive on this list, and paint by numbers. Still fun. ” - jonabbott56
The Deadly Mantis (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  
A giant prehistoric praying mantis, recently freed from the Arctic ice, voraciously preys on American military at the DEW Line and works its way south. (79 mins.)
Director: Nathan Juran
“ Good fun, one of my favourites. Follows the standard formula step by step and the monster's great. Watch for the unintentionally hilarious scene when the monster is right outside the army base and literally peering in through the window and nobody notices... ” - jonabbott56
The Spider (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.0/10 X  
Teenagers from a rural community and their high school science teacher join forces to battle a giant mutant spider. (73 mins.)
Director: Bert I. Gordon
“ I prefer this one to Tarantula (see below), the more acclaimed one, but I admit I'm in the minority. College kids find a cave with you know what inside. Mucho mayhem when it comes creeping down Main Street. ” - jonabbott56
The Fly (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A scientist has a horrific accident when he tries to use his newly invented teleportation device. (94 mins.)
Director: Kurt Neumann
“ Slow in places, but several (much satirised) memorable moments. David Hedison of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea appears alongside the legendary Vincent Price. Essential viewing if you're going to understand all the endless sit-com and cartoon show references that have ripped on this movie! ” - jonabbott56
Return of the Fly (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Philippe Delambre, the now-adult son of "The Fly", does some transportation experimentation of his own. (80 mins.)
“ More of a typical monster mash than the first, and knocked out in monochrome for a quick cash-in, with great scenes of a tall stunt man in the fly mask stomping through the woods Outer Limits-style! ” - jonabbott56
Tarantula (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A spider escapes from an isolated desert laboratory experimenting in giantism and grows to tremendous size as it wreaks havoc on the local inhabitants. (80 mins.)
Director: Jack Arnold
“ Giant spider stalks the desert, all the fault of mad scientist Leo G. Carroll (Mr. Waverley of The Man from UNCLE). Blink and you miss Clint Eastwood. ” - jonabbott56
Them! (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization. (94 mins.)
Director: Gordon Douglas
“ Giant ants in the desert, then the sewer system. The first and best of the cycle, and the template for all the other giant bug movies that followed. Superb from start to finish, and the best movie on this list. See this first, and marvel at pre-CGI special effects at their best. Much is achieved through the power of suggestion, but there's plenty on the screen. And they had to build it. ” - jonabbott56
Mothra (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Shipwreck survivors are found on Beiru Island (Infanto tô), which was previously used for atomic tests... (101 mins.)
Director: Ishirô Honda
“ This is Mothra, of course, whether the Mothra-f!@?ing spellcheck likes it or not. A beautiful film, with some superb visual images in this giant chrysalis turns into giant moth yarn from Toho, the house of Godzilla. Altogether now... Moth-a-rah-ah, Moth-a-rah-ha... ” - jonabbott56
Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A greedy developer unwittingly hatches a gigantic baby moth upon Tokyo, while Godzilla strikes once again. (89 mins.)
Director: Ishirô Honda
“ It had to happen, and Mothra's been turning up in Godzilla films ever since, although the solo flights in the 1990s were disappointing.

Jon is not on Facebook, but can reply to comments here, at the base of this list.

Obsessed with the popular culture of the 1960s and surrounding decades, Jon Abbott has been writing about film and TV for over thirty years in around two dozen different publications, trade, populist, and specialist. He is the author of several books, including

Irwin Allen Television Productions 1964-1970,
Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots,
The Elvis Films,
Cool TV of the 1960s: Three Shows That Changed the World,
and Strange New World: Sex Films of the 1970s.

See his Amazon author's page, and his other lists on the IMDB, all under the pre-fix DISCOVER. ” - jonabbott56