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The Swarm (1978)

PG | | Horror, Thriller | 14 July 1978 (USA)
Trailer
2:15 | Trailer
A huge swarm of deadly African bees spreads terror over American cities by killing thousands of people.

Director:

Irwin Allen

Writers:

Arthur Herzog III (novel) (as Arthur Herzog), Stirling Silliphant (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Brad Crane
Katharine Ross ... Captain Helena Anderson
Richard Widmark ... General Slater
Richard Chamberlain ... Dr. Hubbard
Olivia de Havilland ... Maureen Schuester
Ben Johnson ... Felix
Lee Grant ... Anne MacGregor
José Ferrer ... Dr. Andrews (as Jose Ferrer)
Patty Duke ... Rita (as Patty Duke Astin)
Slim Pickens ... Jud Hawkins
Bradford Dillman ... Major Baker
Fred MacMurray ... Mayor Clarence
Henry Fonda ... Dr. Walter Krim
Cameron Mitchell ... General Thompson
Christian Juttner ... Paul Durant
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Storyline

Killer bees from South America have been breeding with the gentler bees of more northern climates, 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 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, Texas. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Monsters by the millions - and they're all for real! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 July 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Swarm See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$21,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended)

Sound Mix:

Mono (35 mm optical prints)| 4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer and Director Irwin Allen once described this movie as "the most terrifying movie ever made." See more »

Goofs

When the train crashes off the railway track, a carriage explodes. Whether the locomotive was powered by electricity or diesel, the passenger carriages would have carried no fuel and would not have exploded. Although since only one carriage car exploded and spread fire to the rest, it could be conceivable (although unlikely) this was a dining car and contained bottled gas. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Andrews: Billions of dollars have been spent to make these nuclear plants safe. Fail-safe! The odds against anything going wrong are astronomical, Doctor!
Dr. Hubbard: 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?
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 »

Alternate Versions

The UK "12" certificate video release is the 155m version of this film (also shown on US TV) which was released in cinemas at 116m (with a "PG" certificate). Some of the additional footage is as follows:
  • more of the 3 way courtship between DeHavilland, Johnson & MacMurray
  • a hilarious scene in which the military inspect the attacked picnic site and Michael Caine comments on the bees' biting abilities
  • several additional scenes of Caine and Katharine Ross driving back and forth between the military bunker and the town and chatting about developments as they do
  • the death scene of the little boy whose parents were killed and who subsequently firebombed the swarm - in the short version he is in hospital and you assume he's survived although he's not seen again. he has a relapse and dies in the long version.
  • various extra footage of Caine and Ross going to the HQ in Houston
  • when Henry Fonda is killed there is an additional shot of a huge superimposed bee which he sees at the moment of death
  • an additional subplot near the end of the film in which Ross has a relapse and nearly dies from her earlier bee sting. This is why she's lying in a bed when Caine rescues her from the burning building. This sub-plot has several short scenes including one when Bradford Dillman and Richard Widmark see Caine praying by her bed - once he sees that Caine believes in God Widmark knows he's a good chap and instructs Dillman to "Close that dossier" (the dossier has been constantly referred to by Widmark but was left as an unresolved plot hole in the theatrical cut).
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Tremors: The Sounds of Silence (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

The Swarm buzzes along too slowly
23 August 2017 | by Takeshi-KSee all my reviews

This was the last of the disaster films produced by crowd panic expert Irwin Allen, his most famous being The Towering Inferno. When I was watching this again recently I realized the plot was almost identical to Outbreak, the mid nineties disaster film centered around disease control experts dealing with much the same issue; namely how do you contain the risk to public health while gun ho military nuts want to just nuke everything instead? In the end this film splits the difference. I do like how it points out how keenly important bees are to human existence.

The acting is good. Michael Caine is his usual gravelly best, while Katherine Ross is the one weak point although to be fair, she didn't have much of a role to work with. Her character should have been the moral force fighting against military insanity. This subplot is handled by Caine's character. I wonder if his agent forced a change there. Either way it renders Ross' character into being just the walk on love interest, although admittedly this was made in the seventies so what else do you expect for that time period. Speaking of which the swarm of African bees eventually start being called "The Africans" continually. The Africans are coming to get us etc. A tad uncomfortable to hear. Owing to the time it was made too, its pace may be slower for today's taste.

It also includes notable aging stars; Slim Pickens (the yahooing nutcase riding the bomb down in Dr. Strangelove), Henry Ford, Jose Ferrer, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain and legendary centarian Olivia de Havilland.


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