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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
Irwin Allen was so disheartened by the amount of money he lost on this film that he forbade any of his employees to ever mention it again. He even cut short an interview when a question was asked about it. See more »
When Rita goes to the doctor for a prenatal visit, the chest X ray in the background is upside down. See more »
[Crane has found something at the ravaged picnic site]
[holding it up]
Plastic. It's a piece of a plastic cup. There are pieces all around here.
[he starts pointing out the other fragments]
Look. Look, there. There. There.
What's so significant about that?
I'm afraid to speculate. But, I think, the bees, did this.
Are you saying these bees eat plastic?
No, no. But I'm wondering. Your American Honeybee has a weak mouth, that couldn't even break the skin, of a grape. But it looks like this species, ...
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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 »
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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