Kenneth Cran wore quite a few hats for his feature-film debut, The Millennium Bug. Not only did he write, direct, and produce the creature feature, he handled the editing, art direction, miniature effects, and more. It seems obvious this was a labor of love for Cran. Now available on DVD from Green Apple Entertainment, the question is whether or not it was worth all the effort. I’m going with a surprised, but enthusiastic, yes. Amongst the crowded landscape of direct-to-video, indie horror movies, The Millennium Bug is an entertaining standout the combines a nasty sense of humor with clever, old school monster movie effects.
The CGI-free flick is something of a period piece. Set on New Year’s Eve of 1999, with Y2K fears at fever pitch, the Haskin family has decided to ring in the new millennium at a remote campground. Byron (Jon Briddell) has decided the Sierra Diablos Mountains is the perfect place to avoid the possible power outages and computer failures that Y2K might trigger. He’s accompanied by his new wife, Joany (Jessica Simons), and his teenage daughter, Clarissa (Christine Haeberman). Two separate situations conspire to make this easily the most memorable New Year’s Eve of their lives.
For one thing, scientist Roger Patterson (Ken McFarlane) is tracking a horrific bug monster that rears its head only once per millennium. In the same woods is the deranged, deformed Crawford family. They’re like something out of Wrong Turn, only there’s more of them. Pearlene (Ginger Pullman), the only comely member of the family, has just given birth to a runty little monster. Uncle Hibby (Trek Loneman) and the rest of the clan decide it needs to be shot immediately. That doesn’t stop Pearlene from carrying the little corpse around, neatly bundled up. But Granny Willow (Sandi Steinberg) knows immediately what the Crawfords need to do: find new blood for more effective breeding. Patterson’s path will eventually cross the Crawford’s, but not before the Haskin family stumbles upon them.
It all adds up to a gruesomely entertaining horror show. So maybe there aren’t a whole lot of original ideas—it hardly matters. The Millennium Bug effectively mashes up a couple subgenres that fall under the horror umbrella. I already mentioned Wrong Turn and the “inbred hillbilly family” category of slasher film. The bug itself, depicted (as is the entire film) using only old fashioned suits and models, adds some Godzilla flavor to the mix once it starts stomping around, terrorizing everything in its path.
I’m not sure why they cast actresses who apparently had “no nudity” clauses in their contract, at least based on what we hear in some of the bonus interviews. When Clarissa is tied up after being married off to one of the Crawford clan, the scene was originally conceived with her being totally naked. Haeberman very unfortunately balked at that. Personally, I would’ve fired her on the spot and recast the role with someone willing to do the scene properly. Similarly, I’m not sure why Ginger Pullman and Jessica Simons remain fully clothed the whole time. Consider yourself warned if you’re looking for any gratuitous nudity. Aside from a body double for Pullman in one brief scene (about which the less said, the better), there’s a shameful lack of T&A. While this certainly didn’t hinder my ability to enjoy the movie, it was a disappointment.
The special features include an 18-minute “making of” with cast and crew interviews that offers a solid look at the production. The funniest bit involves Ginger Pullman describing shooting the “monster bukkake” scene. There are four minutes of deleted scenes that really weren’t worth including. Director Kenneth Cran, producer James Cran, and production designer Dustin Yoder all sit together for a so-so commentary that, while informative, could’ve been a little livelier.
The Millennium Bug is a Troma-esque horror film that works well. Cran injects a great deal of creativity into the project, keeping the tone appropriately sick-minded but still fun.