A redneck horror film with a wild monster card up its sleeve, The Millennium Bug takes place -- as you'd probably expect -- in the hours leading up to the year 2000, when everyone was seemingly concerned about a complete collapse of society (for reasons too silly to rehash here). Here the paranoid average Americans are Byron Haskin (Briddell), his daughter Clarissa (Haeberman), and his new wife Joany (Simons), who decide to hightail it out to the Sierra Diablo Mountains to avoid the pandemonium when every computer starts to crash and the economy melts down. There they run afoul of the Crawfords, a bunch of country bumpkins straight out of Pete's Dragon (but more incestuous and deformed) who are eager to widen their genetic pool by playing violent matchmaker between Clarissa and son Billa (Meyer). However, their situation is complicated by the title bug, a towering beast that reaches its full maturity and goes out looking for prey every thousand years. Of course, the timing couldn't possibly be worse.
A spirited B-movie that bites off quite a bit and manages to chew most of it, The Millennium Bug tosses in so much mayhem of both the human and monster variety that you can easily forgive the fact that most of the characters are barely developed. It's an old-fashioned homage to drive-in films from the '50s through the '70s, shot through with plenty of gore including a very splashy final half hour (complete with a truly wicked little stinger at the very end). Are you longing for latex and Kayro syrup again after years of crummy digital blood? Look no further.
The story behind the making of this film is actually as interesting as the main feature, with the filmmakers deliberately eschewing any CGI (an aesthetic they're vocally tired of, for pretty obvious reasons). That means this is most obviously a throwback to pre-2000 monster movies, with a practical creature created using real physical elements -- and on a surprisingly large scale, too. However, the techniques on the film extend beyond that to include some nifty model work, including some really charming exterior shots of mammoth trees and the fog-enshrouded cabin that give the film an almost fairy tale quality.
You get a solid idea of these methods on the 18-minute making-of featurette on the DVD, which features pretty much the entire main cast and crew talking about what drew them to this old school monster project. (You also get some pretty quaint green screen backdrops, too, and affectionate nods to names like Jim Henson and Predator.) There's also a lot of backstage footage, too, including shots of the hillbilly performers in make up. You also get four minutes of deleted scenes, basically three extended sequences in the woods that add a bit of character development, and a commentary with director/effects/production designer creator Ken Cran, producer/first AD Jim Cran, and set decorator/FX compositer Dustin Yoder, who walk you through the film covering topics from the characters' clothing choices to accidental boom mic shadows and the amusing reason for including nudity (and body doubles).
As for the film itself, it looks about on par for a digital feature in the HD age; it's a very dark film overall with exterior scenes taking place in the woods (lots of shadows and blue lighting), and while an Blu-Ray would probably help punch up the clarity, it looks quite attractive here and pleasing enough. The cabin interiors look great, with plenty of warm lighting creating that retro Evil Dead ambience. The two-channel stereo audio sounds fine if not overly ambitious, with lots of loud stinger effects, screaming, and squishy sounds coming through clearly. A solid choice for your next night of popcorn monster viewing.