The Love Bug is made-for-television film starring Bruce Campbell and a sequel to the original The Love Bug film. The sequel included a Dean Jones cameo, tying it to the previous films; and introduced an evil black Volkswagen named Horace, "the Hate Bug", giving the film a much darker tone than the other "Herbie" films.
The film is a part remake and part sequel, in that the events of the original 1969 film are repeated while the storyline plots to follow 1980's Herbie Goes Bananas. It can also be thought a prototype of Herbie: Fully Loaded, in that both show a later racer finding Herbie in a junkyard and restoring him.
This 1997 film marked the first new appearance of Herbie in more than 15 years, following the Bug's lone TV series Herbie, the Love Bug, which had ended after five episodes.
The film opens with narration by Jim Douglas and "memory" clips from the first film. The narration ends saying Herbie is now owned by an arrogant Scotsman named Simon Moore III (John Hannah), who abuses and insults Herbie until Herbie comes last in a race, not wanting to obey Simon. Furious, Simon sends Herbie to the junkyard.
Meanwhile, Hank Cooper (Bruce Campbell), a mechanic in a small garage, is told to enter a race and persuaded to acquire Herbie. The judges are Donny Shotz (Micky Dolenz), a car enthusiast; Alex (Alexandra Wentworth), an old flame of Hank's; and Simon. When Herbie and Hank have won the race, Alex questions Hank, and he gives her a ride, wherein Herbie takes them to an isolated road. Meanwhile, Simon finds the engineer who created Herbie: Dr. Gustav Stumpfel (Harold Gould), and requests a second such car: an evil, black edition, whom Simon names Horace.
Hank asks Donny Shotz for a position, but Shotz refuses, whereupon Hank blames Herbie and leaves him. When Herbie searches for Hank, he is cornered by Horace and Rupert in an alley, and destroyed by Horace. Believing Herbie dead, Hank gives him a funeral; but learns from Jim Douglas, Herbie's former owner, that Herbie can be revived if repaired with his own pieces. This being done, Simon proposes a race between Herbie and Horace.
During the race, Herbie is cut in two by Horace; but operates both halves simultaneously to win the race. Horace thereafter attempts again to kill Herbie but instead destroys himself. Simon and his assistant Rupert (Dana Gould) are then arrested by the state police.
The film ends with Herbie taking Hank and Alex to an unknown place, similar to the ending of the first film.
- Dean Jones as Jim Douglas
- Bruce Campbell as Hank Cooper
- John Hannah as Simon Moore III
- Alexandra Wentworth as Alex Davis
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Roddy Martel
- Dana Gould as Rupert
- Harold Gould as Dr. Gustav Stumpfel
- Micky Dolenz as Donny Shotz
- Burton Gilliam as Mechanic Race Announcer
- Clarence Williams III as Chuck
This 1997 incarnation of The Love Bug is the only film in Herbie franchise not available on DVD. As of 2010, it is only available in VHS format throughout the United States. This movie has since been seen in recent years on cable networks; most notably, Hallmark Channel (which usually airs the 1969 original and 1997 film back-to-back) and Disney Channel.
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