Superbug (film series)

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Superbug, or Dudu (pronounced [doo doo] as said in "Superbug Goes Wild" English version), is a West German children comedy film series released between 1971 and 1978. It is based on a somewhat intelligent Volkswagen Beetle similar to Disney's Herbie, but thanks to modern technology, not magic. Superbug appeared to be an attempt by director and main actor Rudolf Zehetgruber to bring the "Herbie" concept to Germany, where the Volkswagen Beetle originated, while giving it the flair of James Bond's gadget-equipped vehicles. The main human character is named Jimmy Bondi. In the first film, which is mainly set in Africa, Bondi inherits a yellow 1963 (1963 in the first film, 1970 in "Return Of Superbug" and 1968 in "Superbug, Super Agent") VW Beetle, which he names "Dudu", the Swahili word for insect or beetle.

The films were dubbed into English and shown on various American UHF TV channels in the 1980s and 1990s. They have since been released on VHS and DVD.


Dudu as helicopter in The Maddest Car in the World


The model for Superbug was Herbie from the Disney movie franchise that started in 1968. The main difference between the two vehicles is that Herbie is portrayed as a magical Volkswagen in white racing livery, while in most of the Superbug movies, Superbug is a computerized plain yellow Beetle with some elements of artificial intelligence. Some of the titles of the Superbug films were related to Herbie film titles, such as "Superbug Rides Again" being inspired by "Herbie Rides Again".

Superbug is portrayed as having countless gadgets and skills. The technological aspects of Superbug increase as the film series progresses. In the first film, Superbug Goes Wild, Superbug is still far from being a self-aware high-tech vehicle. In some scenes, it has animated eyes and can speak and cry, thus appealing to children. The popularity of the VW Beetle had plummeted in the mid-1970s and production was discontinued in Germany in 1978. In the final movie of the series made in the same year, the Beetle body shell was merely hiding a small 6-wheel amphibious All Terrain Vehicle that interacted with a small crab-like robot named Picho, both with big eye-like headlights.

Director Rudolf Zehetgruber was also the main actor, under various names, while his Poland-born wife appeared as Kathrin Oginski. However, the films do not use his own voice, but rather dubbed the voices of actors Fred Maire or Klaus Kindler.

The Superbug series was relatively low-budget. However, some well-known German and international actors took part, including Walter Giller, Heinz Reincke, and Joachim Fuchsberger, Kurt Jaggberg, and Walter Roderer.

In September 2006, all five "Superbug" films were released by Kinowelt on a five-set DVD "Dudu Edition".

The idea of a computer-controlled super car inspired producer Glen A. Larson to create the 1980s TV series "Knight Rider" featuring KITT and David Hasselhoff.


  • Michael Wenk: Walter Roderer - A Life in Pictures . Huber & Co. AG, Women 's Field 2007