The staging of the theft is clever, but stretches credibility: The bad guys sneak into the lab by hiding in giant supply boxes. You’d think that the guards would have noticed something odd about those oversized cartons, although the boxes are delivered late on a Friday afternoon and everyone seems a little tired. In fact, the facility's head of security (John Anderson) comments ominously: "Tired men make mistakes. God help us if a mistake is made here."
Once the Satan Bug (the scientists’ nickname for the experimental virus) disappears, a game of cat-and-mouse commences. U.S. authorities tap former security expert Lee Barrett (George Maharis) to recover the lethal vials and find out who masterminded the heist.
|Geroge Maharis and Anne Francis.|
While the botulinus becomes harmless after eight hours, we learn that the Satan Bug is a self-perpetuating airborne virus that will kill all life in the U.S. within a week. As for an antidote, the solemn Dr. Hoffman notes: "Nothing can stop the Satan Bug."
|Frank Sutton and Ed Asner as bad guys.|
Years after I first saw The Satan Bug, I found the novel at a library book sale. Knowing that author Alistair MacLean was also responsible for Where Eagles Dare and Ice Station Zebra, I was enthused about reading The Satan Bug. To my surprise, it was exceedingly dull with thin characters and trite dialogue. The film adaptation rates as a major improvement.
|The soundtrack album cover--another|
great score from Jerry Goldsmith.