Satan Bug, The

6.11 h 54 min19657+
This sizzling suspenser centers on a nerve-racking chase to recover flasks of a lethal virus which were stolen from a government lab by a deranged and dangerous scientist.
George MaharisRichard BasehartAnne Francis
Science FictionSuspense
English [CC]
Audio languages

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John Sturges
Deep Cuts
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4.5 out of 5 stars

306 global ratings

  1. 66% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 20% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

John ChamberlainReviewed in the United States on October 22, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
A good suspense film from the 1960s.
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This movie is based on a novel by Alistair MacLean, writing as Ian Stuart, which I remember liking when it was published. Typical of MacLean's writing it featured unforseen plot twists and characters who are not what they seem. It was made into an enjoyable movie well directed by John Sturges and sporting a good cast (Richard Basehart, Ann Francis, Dana Andrews and George Maharis).
The plot involves a psychotic terrorist who steals bioweapons from a top secret government facility and threatens mass destruction if demands are not met. A former agent (Maharis) is recruited to help identify and neutralize the threat, which he does after surviving attempts on his life. It is a very suspenseful film, and I enjoyed rewatching it. However, I did not like it as much as when I saw it in the movies back in the 1960s. A number of good movies featuring biological threats have been released in the interim, so this one is not as unique as it was when first issued. In addition, Maharis is good in his role, but not great, not totally convincing as a super component government agent. I think my criticisms are minor, and I did enjoy a very good film.
SciFi-Kaiju-Guy @ TeePublicReviewed in the United States on November 20, 2015
3.0 out of 5 stars
Terrorists steal ultra-lethal biological weapon & hold the world hostage in this old school spy thriller. Great quality Blu-ray!
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BOTTOM LINE: I'd never seen the film prior to this Blu-ray purchase. It's not the best spy thriller I've ever watched, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It looks & sounds really nice on this Blu-ray presentation. An excellent job in bringing yet another obscure older film to light. Thanks, Kino-Lorber. I give THE SATAN BUG a respectable 3 STARS

THE STORY: In a top secret, desert-based U.S. government research facility, the world's most virulent biological weapons are being synthesized. One such killer bacteria, dubbed the "Satan Bug" by its creators, is so deadly that just a few drops in our atmosphere would wipe out all life on Earth within days. When terrorist spies ingeniously penetrate the supposedly impregnable high security compound and steal several beakers full of death-laden supergerms, (the dreaded Satan Bug among them), it's up to a small team of federal operatives to retrieve the uber-leathal bio-weapons at any cost... before the suicidal terrorists release the microscopic killers and extinguish all life on our planet.

THOUGHTS: An intriguing espionage thriller with slight 007 overtones, oddly blended with more traditional procedural crime drama trappings, THE SATAN BUG makes for a curious & unnerving motion picture experience. The film takes its time setting things up and surprisingly does NOT fill in all the blanks immediately. Director John Sturges (Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, Ice Station Zebra, etc., etc.) actually expects his viewers to do a bit of thinking for themselves in order to piece the clues together. Moments of genuine tension develop when it becomes frighteningly apparent that these terrorists don't particularly care whether or not they destroy themselves along with the rest of the world. Nice American southwestern desert location photography helps offset the claustrophobically confining underground secret lab sets. Interesting cast of unknowns & many soon-to-be TV stars, awkwardly lead by the disappointing (IMHO) choice of stiff-as-a-mannequin George Maharis, as our James Bond-ian hero. Sturdy John Stuges directs with a tried & steady hand on the proceedings but one wishes it was a little more exciting. Certainly the subject matter would have lent itself to a lot more high-drama & action if it had a slightly better, punchier script. Still, it is a decent little thriller, with a very scary core concept. It practically begs to be re-made, given today's dysfunctionally dystopian, terrorist-filled world climate. Then again, this movie isn't far removed from so much of what's wrong with our current global society, so maybe a remake isn't such a hot idea after all.

THE BLU-RAY: 1965's THE SATAN BUG arrives in pristine-looking & sounding condition thanks to this beautiful new hi-def Blu-ray transfer from Kino-Lorber. Picture is razor-sharp for the most part and the bright, vivid color scheme is nicely represented. Little to no artifacting or pixelation. Sound mix is level & clear and mostly free of the crackles, hissing and pops that often plague older films or those whose source materials were in rough condition. I don't know what materials were used for this remaster, but the results are top notch.
11 people found this helpful
James C GirasaReviewed in the United States on April 23, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Nice release of an early 'Virus/Contamination' movie
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This review is for the Blu-Ray version of 'The Satan Bug' released by Kino Lorber in September, 2015.

ABOUT THIS MOVIE: This is an early 'virus' movie. It might be the first of it's type but I'm not sure. Of course this depends on one's opinion on what constitutes a virus/contamination type of movie. 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' could possibly be thrown into this discussion. This is a genre that would produce quite a few good movies over the years. For starters, a few years later, 'The Andromeda Strain' would be released. Other very good virus movies over the years would be made. Some would be post apocalyptic examples, '28 Days Later,' ' 'The Stand,' 'Rise of Planet of the Apes,' 'I am Legend,' etc. (way too many to list) Others would be about trying to stop the virus like this one.

BLU-RAY & EXTRA'S: The print looks very nice. It is clear and sharp and the colors were deep. I can't imagine anybody else producing a nicer picture than this. Of course it's possible but I doubt any improvements would be noticeable to the average person. There is a pretty good commentary track by film historian Glen Erickson. I listened to about half of it. You also get the original theatrical trailer.


PLOT/SUMMARY: During the first twenty minutes of the movie we watch as a successful plot to steal two viruses from a top secret laboratory unfolds. One of the viruses lasts about 8 hours but could wipe out a city in that short time. The other virus could potentially wipe out all life on earth (Satan Bug). Shortly thereafter, Barrett (George Maharis) is recruited to help recover the viruses by a person known only as the 'General' (Dana Andrews.) The General's daughter is the 'kind of' love interest, Ann (Anne Francis.) It's not long before they suspect an international criminal called 'Ainsley' is behind the thefts. The short term virus is unleashed in the Florida Keys as a warning and another flash is placed somewhere in Los Angeles. The Satan Bug itself is being used to blackmail the United States. From here the movie is a thriller/mystery story that focuses on finding out who Ainsley is, what his motivations are and how to find the viruses before they are let loose.


SAFETY FIRST: I concur with much of what is said in the commentary with regard to the safety measures of the virus. It is almost inconceivable that their wouldn't be different measures taken for a virus that could wipe out all life on earth. The top scientist is sitting in a room, exhausted, with the virus in a simple glass flask on the desk. Any slip and that's the end of the world. There would certainly be a sealed anti-contamination chamber (not sure if that's the proper lingo) in between so that the virus couldn't escape if released. Security on the base is sparse at best. With something this dangerous, you would expect massive amounts of security... not just a single guard at a desk. The crates certainly would have been checked no matter when they were brought to the base. That is especially true in today's world where paranoia reigns supreme.
-Another issue I have with the movie is the ease in which a criminal manages to supplant one of the top scientists in the world. Really?... he was making pretend that he was a world famous scientist and nobody noticed? How in the world would a criminal be able to make pretend he had genius level scientific knowledge? I don't care how much studying he did, that just wouldn't be possible.

UNLIKELY COINCIDENCES: There are too many unlikely coincidences. Ainsley's car breaking down after stealing the viruses is unlikely. Very unlikely would be Barrett figuring out what happened. Incredibly unlikely would be Barrett actually finding the hidden virus in the middle of nowhere. Barrett being the only person to escape the virus attack in the shed was also very unlikely... and why would they waste a flask on the three of them? Why not just shoot them or kill them another way.

A SENSE OF URGENCY: I just felt that the movie seemed to show lack of urgency in light of what was going on. Since this was apocalyptic level event, you would imagine every agent on Earth would be working on this problem along with constant updates to the President. Instead, there is no more than a few agents along with a General working on the problem.

-A lot of people liked George Maharis in the role of a top secret agent. I did not. They were looking for a 007, Sean Connery, type of actor. Maharis has the look but not the voice. I know this is knitpicking but I just felt that his voice sounded too effeminate for the role.
-If you pay attention you will notice a young James Doohan ( 'Scotty' from 'Star Trek'). He has a role as an agent but does not speak.
-'The Satan Bug' had a decent sized budget for the times and were able to get some pretty good actors/actresses (Dana Andrews, Anne Francis, George Maharis.) We also get Ed Asner from the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show.'

RECOMMENDATIONS/CONCLUSIONS: Overall I'm giving this release 4 stars. If you are just interested in the movie then I would give it 3 stars. If you are a fan of the movie then you will want this release because of the very nice picture and director commentary.

I do not particularly think this is a great movie but it is a decent movie. There are some nice sets but the film has some large gaps in logic and some very unlikely plot twists. Nevertheless, it is a well produced and well directed movie that has some entertainment value. It's a pretty good science fiction/mystery film for the time period.
3 people found this helpful
G. MatotReviewed in the United States on October 9, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Action suspense Someone stole a deadly virus and wants to unleash it on Los Angeles
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A biology lab underground in California has made a deadly virus called Satan Bug. Two men break into the secure facility to steal the virus to unleash on the world so they can be the only humans left on the planet. Car chases, gun fights, fights inside helicopters, all takes place over the California desert. Great action and acting. If you liked the original Andromeda Strain movie this movie has a lot in common with that 1971 film.
joel wingReviewed in the United States on April 1, 2022
3.0 out of 5 stars
Investigation into stolen WMD
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The Satan Bug is a Cold War whodunnit thriller. A deadly weapon of mass destruction is stolen from a government lab and George Maharis is brought in to find out who did it. I think the story was very well done. The beginning is a heist when the thieves take the agent. Then the rest is like a police procedural as Maharis goes through the evidence and does his investigation. There’s also betrayal and more.
Paul S. PersonReviewed in the United States on March 4, 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Rating is for the Movie
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The rating is for the movie, which I really like a lot.

The disk is a DVD-R based on whatever they had available. It does have defects, but they all appeared to me to be from the underlying film. Of course, I watched it in NTSC using component video. An HDTV might show problems, depending on how it displays DVDs.

I watch a film in a local theater most Fridays. I go to the first show. I often see a film on the day of release. The prints of those films, presumably being shown for the first time, often show defects of the same sort on this DVD-R. And if they aren't prints but are digital files, well, that doesn't really make things any better, does it? Those wishing to duplicate the experience of watching the film in a theater should keep in mind that films shown in theaters are rarely perfect.

The DVD-R programs presumably started as a way to get films out on DVD that did not have enough popularity for a full-scale DVD release, but for which there were nonetheless people who desperately wanted to see them again. Since at least one of these catalogues now has over 1000 items, the programs presumably continue because they make money for the studio. They do this by expending minimal resources up front on the source materials and charging higher per-disc amounts for the presumably labor-intensive disc-by-disc burning.

Complaining about quality is pointless (unless the disc was not burned correctly, in which case a replacement, in my experience, will work fine). Those waiting for a full-scale DVD release may be waiting a long, long time: much of the market for such an edition will have bought the DVD-R.

The audience for DVD-Rs is comprised of people who want to watch the movie, not people who have other interests. If you want to watch the movie, buy the disc (if your player can play DVD-Rs; if you aren't sure, check your manual, because some older players can not). If you have other priorities, don't buy it, because all it offers is the movie (and sometimes the trailer): no fancy menus, no special features, no commentaries, no extras, no audio or subtitle options. If the film was in mono, the disc will be in mono: no fancy remixes.

The main advantage over the VHS tape may well be that the DVD-R is in the correct aspect ratio, CD-quality audio, and, when the VHS tape botched the colors, gets the colors right.

For films that were never on VHS tape, the main advantage of the DVD-R is simply that it exists.
3 people found this helpful
thomsixReviewed in the United States on March 20, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great 1965 film on dangers of biowarfare research with a super-spy twist - excellent color and sound on this bluray
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I love this old scifi movie. Before the Amdromeda Strain or The Stand was "The Satan Bug". There's no more a capsule view of what we thought the international covert ops business looked like in the 60's. Cool anti-establishment spy guy hero who walked away from it all, hot blonde Anne Francis in her heyday, lush country clubs, cool cars and a shadowy govt agency run by a distinguisher white haired man known only as "The General".

Great story of biowarfare agents gone wrong and the risk to mankind. This film was released in 1965 and the BluRay DVD restores the color and sound to original quality - it pops off the screen. And as an added bonus James Doughan - Scotty has an uncredited cameo as a "red shirt" secret agent.
6 people found this helpful
PulpmanReviewed in the United States on January 23, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Not Bond, But definitely Worth a look
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I have the Blue Ray version of The Satan Bug. I really enjoyed it as a kid way back in the 60s. The story is about the theft of a deadly microbe which if released could devastate Los Angeles.
A top agent is sent in to solve the situation.
That is it in a nut shell. How ever this film is good stuff and the cast is worth seeing in action. Anne Francis is the female lead and is beautiful. Dana Andrews of Laura fame is here as the director of operations. Richard Basehart of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea turns in a wonderful performance. Others are Ed Asner, Simon Oakland and John Anderson. Produced and directed by John Sturges. Music by Jerry Goldsmith and written by James Clavell. The cast and crew are some of the top in their fields and to have them together in one film is the top of entertainment.
The commentary with the film is very good also. Good rainy day entertainment. Espionage fans of the 60s will want to own this.
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