The Bees (1978)
User ReviewsReview this title
It stars the King of the B's himself, John Saxon, as some sort of scientist bee expert. Or something. He and a nearly-attractive blonde try to warn the world about the over-breeding of the killer bee, and the inevitable disasters to come. But those greedy fat cats have only one thing on their minds: Honey. I swear to you I laughed so hard while watching this movie that I choked. If you like B movies, you will love THE BEES!
Anyway, if the killer bees ever arrive, they ought to go after the people who financed this stinker. It's probably the best example of unintentionally funny.
Led by director Alfredo Zacharias ("Demonoid"), the filmmakers here miss any horror in the premise by bungling almost every action scene. Most of the time, the only possible reaction to the goings-on is laughter. Granted, some of the humor *is* intentional - there is an occasional priceless line such as "That's adding incest to injury." When it comes to the insect cast, we have a practical cast of thousands, and regarding the human actors, Saxon gamely tries to look serious, and Carradine is as genial as he's ever been. Mexican icon Claudio Brook appears early on as Tompkins' husband. There's even an appearance by the "President"! Highlights include a good ol' boy hiring kids to procure bees for him so he can treat his rheumatism with bee stings. There's a fair bit of violence and a couple of impressive vehicle crashes. Everything is capped off with a delightfully idiotic music score (composed by Richard Gillis) that completely works against any suspense that Zacharias and company might otherwise have created. The ending is priceless and right in tune with so many other ecologically themed thrillers of the 70s.
Warner Bros., the makers of "The Swarm", went so far as to pay off New World, the American distributors of this flick, to delay their release so the two movies wouldn't be in direct competition.
Five out of 10.
Angry bees attack the UN to assert joint control of the world between themselves and mankind. If we don't leave them in peace, they dispose of us. Enough said, except for the fact that the UN bees are entirely different from the set of angry bees that menace mankind in the first half of the film. Frankly this film was a lot more entertaining than "An inconvenient truth", AND it has John Saxon, and John Carradine to boot. The fight between Saxon and the Mexican hit-man (yes, this film has everything) is a real treat.
This film should undoubtedly be on the global school curriculum.
John Saxon (the hardest working B (or bee) Movie Actor of the 70s), dishy Angel Tompkins, and John Carradine (looking quite frail as Tompkins uncle "Ziggy" with an utterly fraudulent German accent) form a team of bee experts whose research and chutzpah come to the rescue when huge swarms of killer bees make their way to the United States (via corporate greed), wreaking (laughable) havoc. Humor abounds (both intentional and, more significantly, unintentional). The results are cornball, played to the campy hilt by all involved.
The bee attacks are particularly amusing, underscored by goofy soundtrack music that goes disco at times when the bees get their close-ups. How can anyone not enjoy seeing the Rose Parade in Pasadena upset by an attack of the buzzing fiends? Face it, you WILL be rooting for the bees in this film, cheering them on as they go after the actors.
SPOILER ALERT (AS IF with a movie like THIS!)...That the solution for the bee problem involves using pheromone sprays to confuse the male drone bees, tricking them into mating with each other (essentially turning the bees GAY!), and thereby somehow rendering them sterile (huh???) kicks this one out of the field. But it doesn't stop there...Saxon and Tompkins actually communicate with the bees and reach the United Nations to warn, "You have to listen! You have to listen to what the bees have to say!"
"The Bees" must bee seen to bee beelieeved!
Sure, the bee effects are hokey, but what would anyone honestly expect from a film like this? CGI??? This was 1978!
Worthy of rediscovery, "The Bees" is just good, old, grade-Z, 70s bad-movie fun. Great to heckle (a la MST3K) with a swarm of your best friends. (Liquor (or your vice of choice) is highly recommended. Perhaps toast each bee attack with "the bees knees" (a simple combination of gin plus honey, shaken with ice, strained, and served straight-up) a popular Prohibition-era drink from The Savoy Cocktail Book.)
Screen "The Bees" with any of your favorite bee-themed, B-Movies. Suggestions include: "Invasion of the Bee Girls" with honeys Victoria Vetri and Anitra Ford; Bruce Geller's Emmy- winning "The Savage Bees" TV Movie; "The Killer Bees" starring Kate Jackson and Gloria Swanson (a must-see, if you can find it); or the hypnotic episode titled "Zzzzz" from "The Outer Limits" (original series, of course).
Or -- and this one you should already have thought of yourself -- precede "The Bees" with Hitchcock's "The Birds" and rely on guests' libidos to take the prurient overtones to the next level...(anyone for royal jelly and prophylactics?)
Have a real stinger of an evening!
Watch out for the most obvious stock-footage ever seen (I mean, how many thousands of times have we seen that plane crashing film?---and how about those terrified-crowd scenes that were obviously filmed sometime in the 1960s), obvious dummies that drift in the breeze and are supposedly impersonating characters jumping from tall buildings, some outrageously bad sequences depicting ordinary citizens being attacked by rampaging bees that are so over-acted they actually do seem like a send-up, and watch out for poor arthritic John Carradine attempting to unbutton his jacket but on realising he wont be able to do it, pretends he was merely sweeping a bit of lint from his suit; I'm sure no one in the audience will ever notice that!
Love that funky and totally inappropriate theme music too! See it with "Demonoid" for maximum laughs.
Writer/director Alfredo Zacharias treats the inane premise with sidesplitting misguided seriousness: The copious use of laughably obvious stock footage (look fast for a clip of former President Gerald Ford on a float at the Rose Bowl Parade!), ineptly staged attack scenes, shoddy (far from) special effects, an incredibly inane solution to the problem that involves turning male bees into homosexuals (yes, you read that correctly), and a surreal climax set at a UN meeting complete with a heavy-handed plea for tolerance between humans and bees (!) all add to this hilariously horrendous honey's considerable campy charm. John Saxon tries hard as the stalwart John Norman, Angel Tompkins looks mighty foxy and just barely manages to retain her dignity as the perky Sandra Miller, and John Carradine hams it up shameless as flaky old fudster Dr. Sigmund Hummel (Carradine's uproariously overdone and unconvincing German accent in particular serves as a key source of unintentional belly laughs). The funky-throbbing score by Richard Gillis hits the get-down groovy spot. An absolute cruddy hoot!
This isn't giving away anything... but I really love the disco tune that plays whenever someone's getting stung to death.
Claudio Brook looks creepy every time he appears on screen. I don't know how John Saxon (Dr. John Norman) got involved in this mess and his acting is certainly bad.
The f/x are laughable. Poor production values were used for a movie that intended to be a huge hit.
We shouldn't accept this kind of crap! Probably other people find it amusing because they're not used to this kind of ultra low budget movies. The worst thing about the movie is that it tried too hard to be a decent movie. You can say it failed.
Avoid "The Bees" at all costs!
Not even Mystery Science Theater material.
* 1/2 (out of 4)
It was expected that THE SWARM would be a major hit so this Mexican film was rushed into production to try and cash-in on the others success but when the Irwin Allen film turned out to be a disaster there wasn't any "demand" for a rip so THE BEES has fallen into never land and very few have been brave to dig it up. The "story" involves some African bees that are crossbred with some from Brazil and they turn out to be craving humans and animals. Soon the bees are killing people throughout Brazil and Mexico and soon find their way to America and it's up to three dedicated folks (John Saxon, Angel Tompkins, John Carradine) to destroy the killers. I guess I should add that the major break in killing the bees is to create a special serum that will turn the males into homosexuals and they'll end up attacking one another. I'm not kidding. With that added bit you can tell this sucker is from the 70s and what a poorly produced mess it is. The nature attack genre has given us killer sharks, snakes, whales, bears, frogs and countless other creatures but the bee hasn't been too friendly as quite often its films are very bad. That trend continues with this production, which is just a major joke and you have to feel sorry for the cast members. Thankfully the film is bad enough to where you might find yourself laughing and being entertained by the campiness. As with THE SWARM, the special effects here are just awful with the majority of the bees being "dots" on the screen or some type of item being blown around by a fan. Every once in a while the image of bees are plastered over the footage we're watching but for the most part there's not a bee to be seen. There are several sequences where we see one attack after another and this is where most people are going to get the laughs because the performances are beyond horrid. The funniest has to be one where a woman removes her glasses, wipes them and then puts them back on just in time to see what's getting ready to attack her. Check out the woman in the bathroom who gets stung and then goes into her "death scene", which is bad enough to where many viewers might die from laughter. There's not a single death scene that actually makes on feel for the character or builds up any suspense and that's not a good thing for a film like this. Saxon is clearly bored with the material as he sleepwalks through it but he's always fun to watch. Carradine really hams it up as he's quite often shouting for no reason but this over-the-top performance at least gives us something entertaining to see. Thankfully both Saxon and Carradine have quite a few scenes together so genre fans will at least get to see them. THE BEES isn't the worst movie on the subject but it might just be the dumbest. The political speech at the end is unbelievable and let's not even get started on the other political stuff that works itself into the story.