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When a small Illinois town vanishes off the map in a single night, Intrepid Reporter Audrey Aimes swoops in smelling a scoop. Denied this, she begins investigating the goings on, leading her to Dr. Peter Graves, who has developed a greenhouse full of atomic-sized fruits and vegetables -- which the local insect population keeps breaking into.
Continuing the investigation, Audrey and Peter eventually discover the culprit: LOCUSTS! BIG ONES!! Irradiated by the good doctor's atomic plants, the local locust population has been transformed into a Nigh Invulnerable swarm of eight-foot-plus bugs of DOOM! The giant bugs begin chowing down on (postcards of) the Illinois countryside and work their way toward Chicago while Dr. Peter Graves tries to figure out how to stop them.
Beginning of the End provides examples of:
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: Actually, the script mentions that the Big Bugs come in various sizes, in an effort to cover the lousy compositing work.
- Auto Erotica: The couple in the Cold Open only manage to get to first base before they're killed off though.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: The locusts, of course.
- California Doubling: There are no mountain ranges in Illinois.
- Chickification: Audrey Aimes goes from Intrepid Reporter in the first half of the movie to Neutral Female in the latter half.
- Follow the Leader: clearly inspired by Them!, the big-bug film of The Fifties.
- More Dakka: When Peter Graves gets his hands on a military submachinegun.
- Police Are Useless: Audrey invokes this to justify her continued investigation into things: "The sheriff thinks in terms of 'crime and publicity'. You're a scientist; you think in terms of 'cause and effect'; maybe you'll see something the sheriff missed."
- Retirony: "You know, I'm 37 years old, and I've just realized how much I've taken life for granted."
- Somewhere an Entomologist Is Crying: A locust swarm is NOT like an ant or bee colony, and it sure as hell isn't an intelligent army capable of using a spearhead formation or focusing its attacks on one spot in an enemy's lines!
- The Speechless: deaf/mute Frank.
- Technology Marches On: Audrey has a car phone, which isn't treated as an especially new or unusual technology.
- You Have to Believe Me: played hilariously straight even as Dr. Peter Graves intones, "You know I'm not given to hysteria and you've got to listen to me with an open mind!"
- It doesn't help that Audrey fails to take a photograph of the giant locust when she has the chance.
- At least Ed gets in the one response most others in his situation never think of: "Won't you at least check it out? Or have you found an answer?"