The Satan Bug is a 1965 American crime science fiction suspense film from United Artists, produced and directed by John Sturges, that stars George Maharis, Richard Basehart, Anne Francis, and Dana Andrews. The screenplay by James Clavell and Edward Anhalt was loosely based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Alistair MacLean, written under the pseudonym Ian Stuart.
A germ that could destroy life on Earth is stolen from a biological warfare lab and the thief threatens to release it into the open, prompting a security officer to act.
Lee Barrett, a private investigator and former intelligence agent discharged for his outspoken views, is approached by a man with a tempting offer to join a political organisation opposing bioweapons. His refusal proves the correct response, as the man is an impersonator sent by his former boss, Eric Cavanaugh, to test his loyalty. Barrett is asked by Cavanaugh to investigate the murder of the security chief of Station Three, a top-secret bioweapons laboratory in the desert of southern California – and the disappearance of its director and head scientist, Dr. Baxter.
After they arrive at the station and wait for a time lock on the sealed laboratory to open, they are advised by another scientist, Dr. Gregor Hoffman, to seal the laboratory using concrete. Hoffman informs them that there are two lethal bioweapons in the laboratory, a strain of botulinus that oxidises eight hours after its release, and a recently developed virus that he calls the “Satan Bug”, which could kill all life on Earth in a matter of months.
Determined to discover what happened in the room and taking extreme precautions, Barrett enters to find Dr. Baxter dead, with the vials containing the “Satan Bug” and 1200 grams of botulinus missing.
The film score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith. The film featured the first use of a stabilised camera mount, invented by Nelson Tyler, placed on a helicopter.