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Crazy Critters

Joe's ApartmentInsect Fear Film Festival

Joe's Apartment

In 1996, MTV produced a feature film about a young man who rents a cockroach-infested apartment. The catch is that the roaches have fabulous personalities. As Joe gets to know them and witnesses some of their Busby Berkeley-style song-and-dance numbers, he befriends them as well.

This is probably the most positive portrayal of cockroaches in the history of film. They sing, dance and counsel Joe on his love life. These roaches also take on some of the strongest anthropomorphic characteristics. Physically, the computer-generated roaches are accurate. Their "humanity" shines through in their behavior. They are concerned about Joe's feelings. They crave a cold beer. They love to swim in the toilet.

Joe's Apartment was a big hit with the MTV crowd. Read some of the cockroach song lyrics at the official Warner Bros. Joe's Apartment Web site.


The Insect Fear Film Festival

Each year since 1984, the University of Illinois entomology department has played host to the Insect Fear Film Festival. Highlights of the festival's history include:

  • At last count, 41 feature films and more than 40 short films have played at the festival.
  • A few years into the annual festival, graduate students got the bright idea to bring along some furry friends: tarantulas, hissing cockroaches and other delightful specimens, dead and alive.
  • Between films, the department serves such delicacies as deep-fried wax worms and stir-fried silkworm pupae.

All in all, the Insect Fear Film Festival has proven very popular in its 18-year history at Illinois. Most insect films play into our fears about insects as alien, almost mechanical lifeforms.

"Maybe it's because insects remain the one familiar and conspicuous group which is politically correct to hate," writes the festival's founder on its Web site. "Probably for this reason, Hollywood has shown no inclination to stop producing bad insect science-fiction films either; while the effects certainly are getting better, the biology is not."

Take a look at the complete list of films shown at the Insect Fear Film Festival.


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Copyright 2002 Angie Brammer, all rights reserved
Last updated April 18, 2002