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The Swarm (1978)

PG  |   |  Horror  |  14 July 1978 (USA)
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A huge swarm of deadly African bees spreads terror over American cities by killing thousands of people.



(novel) (as Arthur Herzog) , (screenplay)
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Title: The Swarm (1978)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Crane
Captain Helena Anderson
General Slater
Dr. Hubbard
Maureen Schuester
Anne MacGregor
Dr. Andrews (as Jose Ferrer)
Rita (as Patty Duke Astin)
Jud Hawkins
Major Baker
Mayor Clarence
Dr. Walter Krim
General Thompson
Christian Juttner ...
Paul Durant


Killer bees from South America have been breeding with the gentler bees of more northern climes, slowly extending their territory northward decade after decade. Entomologist Brad Crane has discovered that something is making them come together in huge, killer swarms. He wants to keep the General Slater from using military tactics from further upsetting the balance of nature as they join to try to stop the swarms from approaching Houston. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines: here! See more »




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 July 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der tödliche Schwarm  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$21,000,000 (estimated)


$10,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (extended)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm optical prints)| (35 mm magnetic prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Penultimate theatrical feature film of actress Olivia de Havilland, The Fifth Musketeer (1979) was her last. The movie was also the penultimate cinema movie as a director for Irwin Allen, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) being his last as a director. See more »


Helena says they saw dead bee-covered soldiers outside, but no dead soldiers were in evidence earlier when the recon team enter the missile base. See more »


General Thalius Slater: By tomorrow there will be no more Africans... at least not in the Houston sector.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Disclaimer in closing credits: The African killer bee portrayed in this film bears absolutely no relationship to the industrious hard-working American honey bee to which we are indebted for pollinating vital crops that feed our nation. See more »


References The Towering Inferno (1974) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"Will history blame me or the bees?"
2 October 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

There's delusion on an epic scale on display in Irwin Allen's infamous The Swarm. It's not the worst of his oeuvre by a long way – Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and When Time Ran Out are both much, much worse – but it's become the poster child for all the absurdities of the disaster genre at it's hokeyest. But then capsized ships with atom bombs aboard or volcanoes threatening hotel complexes can't compare to killer bees destroying nuclear power plants and causing train wrecks on the Richter Scale of movie absurdity. And it's a curiously second- and third-hand construction too - structurally Stirling Silliphant's script is surprisingly similar to his script for In the Heat of the Night. Okay, there weren't any bees in that one, but from the beginning where big city cop Sidney Poitier is discovered at a murder scene and immediately treated as a suspect by hard-assed racist cop Rod Steiger until he gradually learns to respect his expertise, it's being used as a template, with sunflower seed munching entomologist Michael Caine discovered in a missile silo full of dead bodies by hard-assed xenophobic general Richard Widmark, who immediately suspects him of their deaths until he gradually learns to respect his expertise (how can you not love a film where Bradford Dillman asks "Can we count on a scientist who prays?" only for Widmark to respond "I wouldn't count on one that didn't"?).

But this isn't a film about trust or even narrative, it's about miscast and affordable stars getting stung to death in slow-motion by what look like bits of oatmeal painted black and fired at them by air-cannons. It's a film about hallucinating patients being menaced by imaginary giant bees. It's a film about military complexes with lots of flashing lights. It's a film about bad acting in the face of insurmountably inane dialogue ("Are you endowing these bees with human motives? Like saving their fellow bees from captivity, or seeking revenge on Mankind?" "I always credit my enemy, no matter what he may be, with equal intelligence." and "Billions of dollars have been spent to make these nuclear plants safe. Fail-safe! The odds against anything going wrong are astronomical, Doctor!" "I appreciate that, Doctor. But let me ask you. In all your fail-safe techniques, is there a provision for an attack by killer bees?" are just the tip of the iceberg). It's about bad fashion sense - this being the 70s, the decade that taste forgot, amid a preponderance of trouser flairs there are a lot of earth tones and oranges amid the costumes, so it's entirely possible that the bees simply mistook the actors for flowers waiting to be pollinated. And it's all done with a gloriously straight face and even, on a few rare occasions, some technical competence - Irwin Allen may have loved schmaltz, but he had a great visual sense when dealing with military hardware and there are some genuinely impressive shots in the picture when he gets to play with the toys. Unfortunately his handling of the actors is much more mechanical, with the old guard (Widmark, Olivia DeHavilland, Henry Fonda, Ben Johnson) faring better than poor old Caine and Katherine Ross. And, like many bad films, it's topped off by a superb score, one of Jerry Goldsmith's very best from his golden period. Much more fun than it's good to admit, the proposed remake has a lot to live up to.

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Funniest scene or line ryannaughton1138-1
The greatest piece of crap ever GRLMGC
The music was good ryannaughton1138-1
Most awful two hours spent in a cinema. garyahampton
Time for a remake? captmike10
Has anyone read the novel? CreativeMedia
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